U.S. eyes North Korea with backpack-sized satellites

North Korea is on U.S. officials' minds more than usual these days, in part because of its recent missile launch, and U.S.
By Mark Schwartz | Jul 10, 2017
North Korea is on U.S. officials' minds more than usual these days, in part because of its recent missile launch, and U.S. intelligence is focusing as much space-satellite capability as it can on the reclusive totalitarian state to see if more weapons-development activities follow. But the current array of U.S. satellites can only cover up to a third of North Korea at a time, and even then it misses key details if it is nighttime or if cloud cover is heavy. So U.S. officials have turned to private developers to fill in the blind spots with upcoming fleets of mini-satellites.
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are building these satellites, which would deploy in groups and fan out over large areas of Earth orbit to cover more ground than any one satellite could. These satellites will be able to deploy in greater numbers because they are built very smallsome are no bigger than a backpack.
"Everything is getting smaller," said Payam Banazadeh, founder of Capella Space, one of the companies building mini-satellites. "Even the next version of the satellite is getting smaller."
These satellites may launch in 2018. They would not be the first privately built satellites that serve the government. Growing numbers of private satellites have taken to the skies in recent years to provide ground coverage during national disasters, observe infrastructure, and other surveillance tasks.
Satellites, private or governmental, are one of the only options that the United States has for observing North Korea. The nation blocks all external Internet traffic and is in general notoriously hard to infiltrate from outside.

---

Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Comments should take into account that readers may hold different opinions. With that in mind, please make sure comments are respectful, insightful, and remain focused on the article topic.