DigitalGlobe) MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press
This Dec. 8, 2011 satellite image provided by the the DigitalGlobe Analysis Center shows the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag sailing in the Yellow Sea, approximately 100 kilometers south-southeast of the port of Dalian, China.

DENVER — A commercial U.S. satellite company says it has captured a photo of China's first aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea off the Chinese coast.

DigitalGlobe Inc. says one of its satellites photographed the carrier Varyag on Dec. 8, and a DigitalGlobe analyst found the image on Tuesday while searching through photos.

The Longmont, Colo., company sells satellite imagery and analysis to clients that include the U.S. military, emergency response agencies and private companies. DigitalGlobe has three orbiting satellites and a fourth is under construction.

The aircraft carrier has generated intense international interest because of what it might portend about China's intentions as a military power.

The former Soviet Union started building the carrier but never finished it. China bought it in 1998 and spent years refurbishing it.