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Images: Satellite eyes crowd the skies

These aren't your father's Sputniks. Satellites today keep TVs tuned in and GPS systems on the grid.

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    Rainbow 1 was launched in 2003 through the combined efforts of Lockheed Martin and Cablevision for broadband and HDTV transmissions.

    Cablevision is selling this satellite along with the Voom satellite television service to Echostar Communications for $200 million. Echostar operates the Dish Network.

    Credit: Lockheed Martin

    Rainbow 1

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    QuickBird is used by DigitalGlobe to produce commercial high-resolution imagery of Earth. The 10-foot-long orbiter was launched in 2001, has a 128GB hard drive and is fueled for seven years. Most recently it showed dramatic high-resolution photos of the tsunami disaster in Asia (see next page).

    Credit: DigitalGlobe

    QuickBird

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    This image of the receding waters from a tsunami wave in Sir Lanka was taken by QuickBird on Dec. 26, 2004.

    Credit: DigitalGlobe

    QuickBird image

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    XM Satellite Radio has two music boxes in the sky, Rock (XM-1, pictured at right) and Roll (XM-2), built by Boeing and in orbit since 2001. Each transmits up to 100 channels of digital radio to subscribers across the continental United States. XM-3 is scheduled to lift off from Earth in February.

    Credit: Boeingmedia

    QuickBird

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    The Hubble Space Telescope, as seen from the space shuttle, is about the size of a school bus and was originally deployed in 1990.

    Its future is cloudy, with the White House said to be considering dropping funds from its 2006 budget request for a mission to service Hubble. Its replacement, The Next Generation Space Telescope, may be launched as early as 2008.

    Credit: NASA

    Hubble

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    The TRMM satellite leads the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, a joint project of NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency for measuring rainfall to study the effect of greenhouse gases.

    It recently found that that the El Nino-Southern Oscillation is mainly responsible for changes in rain patterns around the world.

    Credit: NASA

    TRMM

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    A worker puts the finishing touches on Echostar 5.

    Echostar 5 and 6 were originally named Sky 1 and 2 for the MCI-News Corp. venture called American Sky Broadcasting. In 1999, they were sold to Echostar with gear, broadcast license and three years of rights to Fox rebroadcasts for $1.25 billion. It's now part of the Dish Network.

    Credit: Lockheed Martin

    Hubble

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    DirectTV-7 is a communications satellite built by Space Systems/Loral and launched in May 2004.

    Credit: Space Systems/Loral

    DirecTV-7

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    The U. S. Air Force's Navstar GPS satellite is designed to instantaneously provide precise, three-dimensional navigation information for military and civilian users under all weather conditions around the world.

    Credit: Boeingmedia

    Navstar

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    To maximize broadband coverage, the Boeing 702 satellite (not pictured) delivers signals to specific geographic regions using "spot beam" technology. That provides a focus on prime service areas rather than spreading it out in a more scattershot pattern.

    Credit: Boeingmedia.com

    Broadband

    Satellite eyes crowd the skies

    The Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 chilled the world and marked the beginning of the Space Age.

    Credit: NASA

    Sputnik 1