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"Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today -- but the core of science fiction, its essence has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all."
- Isaac Asimov

Satellite Photography for Surveillance  
  Use of pictures taken from near Earth orbit for reconnaissance in a military operation.  

First description of this idea that I know about.

He turned to the desk, picked up a broad sheet of cardboard.

"I have a color photograph here."

Bill studied it, saw that it looked like an aerial photograph of a vast stretch of mountain and desert, a monotonous expanse of gray, tinged with green and red.

A photograph, taken from space, of part of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. And see!"

He pointed to a little blue disk in the green-gray expanse of a plain, just below a narrow mountain ridge, with the fine green line that marked a river just beside it.

"That blue circle is the first ship that came..."

From The Prince of Space, by Jack Williamson.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Prince of Space
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Williamson
  Tech news articles related to The Prince of Space
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Williamson

Satellite Photography for Surveillance-related news articles:
  - Satellite Surveillance Reveals Guerrilla Drug Trade

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