In the past, high resolution satellite imagery was the domain of national security organizations. However, this has recently changed with the launch of Space Imaging’s IKONOS satellite. Launched on September 24, 1999 it is the world’s first commercial high resolution satellite, collecting data at 1-meter black/white and 4-meter multi-spectral.
2000 has the scheduled launch of at least two more commercial high resolution satellites. If these satellites are successfully launched, a buyer will be able to acquire imagery every day of the year (barring cloud cover). As an added convenience, an image user no longer has to buy a massive swath of imagery. For example, IKONOS scenes as narrow as 5km (3 miles) can be purchased. This development has opened the door for corridor applications and has been thoroughly and successfully implemented by TransCanada Pipelines in mapping over 1500km of their mainline.