September 22, 2021

Maxar satellite images show thousands of people at Kabul airport


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Maxar’s WorldView 3 satellite captured this view of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday, Aug. 16. The view shows crowds gathered around parked aircraft. Credit: Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

Maxar’s WorldView 3 commercial imaging satellite captured overhead views of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this week as thousands of people converged on the runway and gathered near aircraft after the Taliban militants took control of the capital city.

The high-resolution images, captured at 10:36 a.m. Kabul time on Monday, Aug. 16, show crowds gathered in normally restricted areas on the airport’s aprons. One cropped view released by Maxar showed people on the runway, with military or security vehicles parked nearby.

Thousands of people rushed to Hamid Karzai International Airport after the Taliban militant group entered Kabul over the weekend. Former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

U.S. and allied forces continued evacuating their citizens this week in the final chapter of a nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan. The Biden administration aims to complete the evacuation, which is expected to include thousands of Afghans who aided the U.S. war effort, by Aug. 31.

The WorldView 3 spacecraft that took the images launched in April 2014 from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. The satellite was built by Ball Aerospace, and its optical Earth-imaging instrument has a maximum resolution of 12 inches (31 centimeters).

WorldView 3 captured the images from an altitude of more than 380 miles (612 kilometers).

Maxar’s WorldView 3 satellite captured this view of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday, Aug. 16. The view shows crowds gathered around parked aircraft. Credit: Satellite image ©2021 Maxar
Maxar’s WorldView 3 satellite captured this view of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday, Aug. 16. The view shows crowds gathered around parked aircraft. Credit: Satellite image ©2021 Maxar
Maxar’s WorldView 3 satellite captured this view of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday, Aug. 16. The view shows crowds gathered around parked aircraft. Credit: Satellite image ©2021 Maxar

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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