Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and their wives flew to Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast in the late summer of 2008 to view the launch of a satellite carrying the Google logo into space. The eye-in-the-sky was propelled into the atmosphere by Boeing on a blazing Delta2 Rocket. For two such space-crazy individuals as Larry and Sergey, it was a thrill.

GeoEye-1 has a deal with Google, giving it exclusive commercial rights to the imagery provided by the satellite. The search giant will use the data on their mapping services, Google Maps and Google Earth. The GeoEye-1 satellite is also part of the NextView program of the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Having its own space on a satellite gives Google greater control over the images it receives and uses. Google will be able to provide higher, finer images, making the views of Earth and maps more detailed and easier to use. The satellite will constantly refresh images and make them current. It will orbit 423 miles up and circle Earth more than a dozen times a day. In one day, it can collect color images of an area the size of New Mexico or a black-and-white image the size of Texas.

In spite of the improvements, Google would like to see even better pictures someday:

The new satellite is limited to releasing images for commercial use at no higher than 50 centimeters (cm) resolution by government restrictions. Most of the high resolution satellite imagery is already at 60–100 ...

Get Google Speaks: Secrets of the World's Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.