Not content with launching their own browser in the war with MS, Google has gone nuclear with their own medium range ballistic missile, as seen here:

Image: the Boeing Company/Geoeye

Actually it’s really a Boeing Delta II. But what’s really interesting is that the Google has an exclusive deal for high resolution imaging from the new satellite (from ARS Technica):

Nowhere in Geoeye’s press material for the satellite, however, is there any mention of Google. Apart from the evidence provided by the Google logo on the side of the launch vehicle, the rest of the information on the project floating around the web comes from Reuters, which notes that the two Google founders were present to watch the launch. Apparently, the search giant has forged an agreement that will allow them, and only them, to use the images obtained from the satellite for online mapping purposes. For anything else, anyone with the money can buy the pics.

That point’s worth emphasizing, because a number of reports have gotten a bit hyperbolic about Google’s role. One report suggested that the search giant had “launched its own imaging satellite.” Others played it as completely under control of Google and the military. (Rest assured that the military will be calling the shots on all major decisions involving this satellite.)

It’s not at all clear what the imaging hardware’s extra resolution gets Google, other than sharper pictures and the possibility of filling a few specialized, niche needs. A half-meter resolution isn’t really sufficient to substitute for the street view cameras, but perhaps the company’s founders are simply satisfied by the fact that they have them, and Yahoo and Microsoft don’t.


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