Satellite photos show final US evacuation efforts from Kabul airport in Afghanistan

As the U.S. military winds down its airlift American citizens and Afghan refugees from Kabul in the wake of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, satellites have captured stark views of the effort from space.

Images from satellites operated by Maxar Technologies shows scenes of the Hamid Karzai International Airport from Friday (Aug. 27) as the U.S. nears an Aug. 31 deadline to complete its evacuation efforts. The were taken one day after a deadly suicide bombing killed as many as 170 civilians and 13 members of the U.S. military at the airport's Abbey Gate. Some black-and-white views were captured by Maxar's WorldView-1 satellite.

Video: Satellite views of US military's Kabul evacuation
Satellite images show crowds at Kabul airport before two explosions

"People can be seen on the tarmac preparing to load on a C-17 transport aircraft, crowds remain at the northwestern gate to the airport while other entrance gates have far fewer people present than in previous days," Maxar representatives wrote in a description of the images.

Maxar captured seven images of the Kabul evacuation by the U.S. military during two passes over Afghanistan on Friday, one at 10:15 a.m. local time by a satellite capable of color imagery and another pass at 1:50 p.m. local time by the WorldView-1 satellite, which took the black-and-white imagery. 

Related: Crowds surge on Afghanistan airport in satellite photos

The satellite observations comes as the U.S. nears the Aug. 31deadline set by the Biden administration to evacuate thousands of Americans and Afghan allies who aided U.S. forces during the 20-year war that began in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

As of Sunday morning, the U.S. has airlifted more than 117,000 people from Kabul since the evacuation effort began this month after the Taliban's swift takeover of the Afghanistan, according to the New York Times.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.