In 1972, a joint NASA/USGS program launched the Landsat-1 satellite program. During the 1970s and 1980s the Landsat satellites imaged the earth at pixel resolutions ranging from 30 m to 80 m.
Launched in 2014, Maxar’s WorldView-3 currently collects the world’s highest resolution commercial satellite imagery. While designed to collect imagery at 31 cm resolution, until June 2014 the U.S. Government restricted the sale of commercial panchromatic imagery to 50 cm resolution. After June 2014, Maxar (then DigitalGlobe) was permitted to sell imagery at 31 cm resolution.
Maxar plans on launching "WorldView Legion" satellites starting in the fall of 2021 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This is a program of 6 satellites with a pixel resolution of 29 cm.
Since the ability to detect objects from space depends on the image's pixel resolution, the ability to predict what will be detectable in the future is related to our prediction of the available satellite imagery resolution.
What will be the highest pixel resolution of commercially available optical satellite imagery, purchasable in a NATO country, in the year 2050?
This question resolves as the highest pixel resolution in centimeters, either available commercially to non-governmental entities, or otherwise publicly available, in a NATO country, from an operational satellite in 2050. This is restricted to NATO countries as governments can restrict the sale of satellite imagery.
Pixel resolution is defined as the length of one side of an image pixel. For example, a 50 cm pixel resolution will represent a square of size 50 cm x 50 cm.