The United States and Germany are jointly developing secret spy satellites under the guise of a commercial programme despite opposition from France, leaked US diplomatic cables showed Monday.
The project, named HiROS, envisions the construction of an undetermined number of high-resolution observation satellites capable of spotting any object on the planet down to a size of just 50 centimetres (about 1.5 feet), according to classified cables from US embassy in Berlin leaked to WikiLeaks and obtained by Norwegian daily Aftenposten.
The satellites will have the capacity to take infrared images at night and to send images much quicker back to earth than the satellites currently in service, the cables showed.
Due to the controversial nature of the programme, US and German officials have decided it should be presented as a civilian project with environmental aims, run by commercial entities.
But in reality it is “under the total control” of German intelligence service BND and the German aerospace centre DLR, the cables showed.