Who needs drones when you’ve got satellites?

The belief that the US government will be using drones to spy on its citizens might not have any basis, as its security forces move towards satellite spying instead.

In September, the US government will fire into orbit a two-stage rocket from a Virginia launchpad. According to official reports, the mission is scientific one, designed to improve America’s ability to send small satellites into space quickly and cheaply.

However, according to Wired, the launch will help the elite forces of US Special Operations Command hunt down people considered to be dangerous to the United States and its interests.

For a while now the US has clandestinely tagged people they want to bump off and used satellites to relay information from those beacons. But since a lot of people that special forces want to hit hide in areas where the satellite coverage is thin, and there aren’t enough mobile towers to provide an alternative, they need something better.

According to Wired, eight miniature communications satellites, each about the size of a water jug, have been installed on top of the Minotaur rocket that’s getting ready to launch from Wallops Island, Virginia. They’ll sit more than 300 miles above the earth and provide a new way for the beacons to call back to their masters.

Some of the beacons use infrared flashes to signal their location and they are used to hit with drone strikes. Others are implanted into commercial electronics.

All jolly clever stuff, but it could also easily be turned into effective and quiet monitoring devices of US citizens without too much imagination.