Watching Planes Land From Space Is Like a Video Game Brought to Life

Illustration for article titled Watching Planes Land From Space Is Like a Video Game Brought to Life

Ever wanted to watch the world—in real-time HD—from space? Well prepare to experience what it'd be life if the world was your very own video game and check out a few planes landing at the Bejiing airport. It'll be the coolest planespotting you've ever done.

What you see here is Skybox's SkySat-1 turning its amazing cyber-eyes towards Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) airport in Beijing on December 30, 2013. Crazy right? Makes you want to go play Red Alert 2 or something.


Good news: There will be more. Skybox can use its SkySat-1 to offer 90-second videos of this quality for any spot on Earth. Bad news: They charge for it, and probably out the nose! This clip in collaboration with MapBox is just a tantalizing taste, and unless you're super loaded, you'll just have to hold out for freebies.

While you're just going to have to sit back and wait for Skybox to drop more gratis footage to get another fix here, there's another project called UrtheCast attempting roughly the same thing (but free-er) by mounting HD streaming cameras on the ISS. The cameras are already there, just not streaming yet. So consider this a sneak peek into the future, where a god's-eye-view is just a few clicks away. And just try to forget that the NSA has probably had this for like a decade already. [MapBox]

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So I have a question : if this is "live" footage, why is the underlying imagery composed of three different photos? You can see the join and mismatch in the runways and taxiways. This looks more like CGI ground movements superimposed on a static series of images.