[FPSPACE] Shargin photographs North America -- why?

Jim Oberg joberg at houston.rr.com
Mon Oct 18 09:30:34 EDT 2004

Shargin photographs North America -- why?

>From ISS On-Orbit Status, October 17: "Yuri Shargin used the Nikon D1 camera with f800 lens on his first session of observation and imaging of selected targets for the Russian Environmental Protection Service as part of the Ekon (KPT-3) experiment, today performing photography of the North American continent."

Uh, my awkward question is this: what interest does a Russian environmental protection experiment have in high-res surface imaging of North America (read: United States)? Since it's a Russian experiment, I presume this means that NASA will never see the images. Does this activity possibly have anything to do with the recent severe shortage of Russian military reconnaissance capability (nine months without ANY reccesat in orbit, just recently alleviated)? I could be totally over-reacting here -- after all, Anatoliy Perminov, head of Russia's Federal Space Agency, promised that Shargin would not be doing any military-related activities on ISS, and since Perminov was until recently Shargin's boss (he's the former head of the Russian 'Space Forces', and a military officer himself), this also provides a certain level of credibility to the assertion.  
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