‘Big brother’ satellite capable of zooming in on ANYONE, anywhere from space is set to


Privacy experts are sounding the alarm on a new satellite capable of spying on your every move that is set to launch in 2025.

The satellite, created by startup company Albedo, is so high quality it can zoom in on people or license plates from space, raising concerns among expert that it will create a ‘big brother is always watching’ scenario.

Albedo claims the satellite won’t have facial recognition software but doesn’t mention that it will refrain from imaging people or protecting people’s privacy.

Albedo signed two separate million-dollar contracts with the U.S. Air Force and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center to help the government monitor potential threats to U.S. national security.

Albedo claims the satellite won¿t have facial recognition software but doesn¿t mention that it will refrain from imaging people or protecting people¿s privacy.

Albedo claims the satellite won’t have facial recognition software but doesn’t mention that it will refrain from imaging people or protecting people’s privacy.

The company raised $35 million last month to commercialize its Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) satellite, in addition to the $48 million it raised in September 2022.

Albedo co-founder, Topher Haddad, said he and his team hope to eventually have a fleet of 24 spacecraft.

‘This is a giant camera in the sky for any government to use at any time without our knowledge,’ Jennifer Lynch, general counsel of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the New York Times.

‘We should definitely be worried.’

‘It’s taking us one step closer to a Big-Brother-is-watching kind of world,’ added Jonathan C. McDowell, , a Harvard astrophysicist.

Albedo was founded in 2020 and started building its satellites the following year with its close-up technology made possible by the Trump administration’s steps to relax government regulations on civil satellite resolution in 2018. 

Then-President Donald Trump updated the U.S. Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices and created new guidelines for satellite design and operations. 

Under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) previous regulations, it was illegal to build a satellite could see less than 30 centimeters – at that range it could only identify cars and homes, but not individual people.

But under Trump’s new directive, satellites were allowed to track objects in space about the size of 10 centimeters, which would improve how the Air Force could catalogue objects.

The satellites use Nighttime Thermal Infrared Imaging to determine if an object is passive or active and if it's moving

The satellites use Nighttime Thermal Infrared Imaging to determine if an object is passive or active and if it’s moving

The majority of satellites are orbiting about 160 km (100 miles) to 2,000 km (1,242 miles) away from Earth, and all can currently home in on objects that are about 30 centimeters (one foot) in diameter.

From this distance, satellites can only view things like street signs and the tail numbers on aircraft, but Albedo aims to zoom in even closer.

The company’s satellites will create images that are only 10 centimeters (four inches) in diameter, with telescope mirrors that are polished to the size of 1/1000 the size of a human hair.

Albedo's satellites will orbit as low as 100 miles away from Earth's surface and could be used for life-saving measures like helping authorities map disaster zones. Experts are concerned that they will instead be used to track individuals and affect people's privacy

Albedo’s satellites will orbit as low as 100 miles away from Earth’s surface and could be used for life-saving measures like helping authorities map disaster zones. Experts are concerned that they will instead be used to track individuals and affect people’s privacy

The smaller centimeter imagery means the images won’t be as pixelated, allowing those using the satellite to view objects, places, and people with more accuracy.

The satellites will orbit as low as 100 miles away from Earth’s surface and could be used for life-saving measures like helping authorities map disaster zones.

Albedo’s satellites use an intuitive interface to monitor and track trends for its existing imagery and its cloud-centric delivery pipeline can collect information in under an hour.

Haddad addressed concerns that the satellites would destroy people’s right to privacy in a public forum, writing that the company is ‘acutely aware of the privacy implications and potential for abuse/misuse,’ and expects it to be ‘an ongoing, evolving issue over time.’

He confirmed that the satellite’s 10-centimeter resolution will be able to identify people but claimed the company will only approve customers on a case-by-case basis and will build ‘robust internal tools to find bad actors, as well as the obvious measures of adding punitive clauses to our terms and conditions.’

In March 2022, Albedo received a $1.25 million contract with the U.S. Air Force for the second phase of development to determine if the satellites could identify missile tubes on warships, hardware on electronics vans, and fairings on fighter jets.

The company also said its satellites can help governments ‘monitor hotspots, eliminate uncertainty, and mobilize with speeds.’

Albedo's satellites will hover only 100 miles away from the Earth's surface and will capture small details like missile tubes on warships, hardware on electronics vans, and fairings on fighter jets.

Albedo’s satellites will hover only 100 miles away from the Earth’s surface and will capture small details like missile tubes on warships, hardware on electronics vans, and fairings on fighter jets.

In April 2023, Albedo signed another $1.25 million contract with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center – which assesses foreign threats – for Nighttime Thermal Infrared Imaging that combines visible and thermal imagery to detect if an object is active or passive and if its moving or stationary.

‘We’re committed to accelerating the Air Force and Space Force’s ability to understand its performance against our problem sets and apply our capabilities on-orbit,’ said Joseph Rouge, U.S. Space Force Deputy Director of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.

‘Nighttime thermal infrared imaging can help our intelligence analysts, warfighters, decision-makers, and field operators solve complex emerging threats day and night,’ he added.

Then in December, the company signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the National Reconnaissance Office to use the satellite’s thermal infrared data to provide ‘geospatial intelligence for climate, food security and the environment through daily surface temperature data and analytics.’

Satellite can see inside your apartment 

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A new satellite is orbiting the Earth that is capable of snapping high resolution images of nearly any place on our planet ¿ and is powerful enough to penetrate the walls of buildings. Pictured is a detailed image of Chiyoda City skyscrapers in Tokyo

A new satellite is orbiting the Earth that is capable of snapping high resolution images of nearly any place on our planet – and is powerful enough to penetrate the walls of buildings. Pictured is a detailed image of Chiyoda City skyscrapers in Tokyo

Haddad claimed the technology will help curb climate change by showing which regions are most affected, while also saying it ‘can be simultaneously used to support our national defense mission and mitigate our global environmental/climate crisis.’

The latter reasoning is alarming to experts who say that while VLEO satellites can be helpful in some scenarios, the potential for overreach and human rights violations is increasingly concerning.

John Pike, the director of Global Security.org told the New York Times that Albedo is downplaying the potential effects of creating a satellite that can make out human forms.

‘You’re going to start seeing people,’ he told the outlet. ‘You’re going to see more than dots.’

In the past, private satellites have proved useful for research and commercial use and helped the government with issues including ‘tracking global oil stockpiles, measuring deforestation in the Amazon, and identifying boats engaged in illegal fishing,’ according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

‘They have also been used to illuminate human rights abuses, providing evidence of labor camps in North Korea and Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria,’ it added when addressing proposed rules for licensing private satellites.

But the EFF said that aside from these positive uses, more detailed satellites could infringe on human rights, saying: ‘The same technology that exposes human rights abuses can also be used to perpetuate them.’

Experts fear that this could mean privacy will become a thing of the past and government agencies will be able to view anyone, anytime, anywhere without their knowledge.

‘This is a giant camera in the sky for any government to use at any time without our knowledge,’ Jennifer Lynch, the EFF general counsel, told the New York Times, adding: ‘We should definitely be worried.’



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