The launch of the world's highest resolution, commercial Earth-imaging satellite has been announced for 4 September from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The GeoEye-1 is designed to take images of the Earth from 423 miles moving at a speed of about four-and-a-half miles a second.

The satellite will make 15 earth orbits per day and collect imagery that will be able to distinguish objects on the Earth's surface as small as 16 inches in size.

The images collected will be ideal for large-scale mapping projects and Google has been confirmed as a client with the plan to use the satellite's imagery for its Earth and Maps applications.

Other uses for the pics including national defense and intelligence, state and local governments, environmental monitoring and land use management, oil and gas, utilities, disaster management and for insurance purposes.

The company says that if all goes to plan it expects to offer imagery and products to customers in the mid- to late-October timeframe.