Congratulations to DigitalGlobe for the successful launch of WorldView-1 on September 18. Let's hope that checkout goes smoothly and that it is fully operational soon.
Some questions arose in connection with the launch regarding what restrictions the US government puts on the operations of commercial imaging satellites and under what authority. The following is a brief description:
Commercial satellite imaging companies in the United States are subject to number of restrictions. Under SubChapter II of the 1992 Land Remote Sensing Policy Act, companies in the United States must obtain a license from the Department of Commerce to operate a commercial satellite imaging system. The Department of Commerce has the responsibility and the authority to determine the parameters of such licenses. Many of these parameters are set forth in 15 CFR Part 960 - Licensing of Private Land Remote-Sensing Space Systems; Final Rule. However the 1992 Act also granted the Secretaries of Defense and State authority to determine conditions necessary to protect international obligations, foreign policy concerns and national security concerns. As a result, a Memorandum of Understanding was agreed to in 2000 between the Departments of State, Defense, Interior and Commerce and the Director of Central Intelligence which gave the Departments of State and Defense and the Intelligence Community the right to review license applications, provide comments and propose additional restrictions to be included in license agreements. This process continues today.