DigitalGlobe, provider of the most detailed satellite imagery available on the commercial market, has completed on-orbit checkout and commissioning of their latest bird: WorldView 4. WorldView 4 is a twin to WorldView 3, offering an unprecedented 1-foot resolution with its 3.6 foot aperture main telescope. But since WorldView 3 is completely booked by the US military, WorldView 4 opens up this capability to the public. In fact, it began acquiring images for paying customers on February 1, so this capability is already very real.
To commemorate the occasion, DigitalGlobe released this spectacular image, shot by WorldView 2, of SLC-3 at Vandenberg AFB right as the Atlas V rocket climbed away with WorldView 4 on board:
Here are some pretty rocket videos to enjoy. 😉 First, from last week, the Atlas V launch of the WorldView 4 commercial imaging satellite, from Vandenberg AFB:
And then, in preparation for launch this week, here’s the Soyuz MS-03 rocket stack rollout at Baikonur Cosmodrome:
An Atlas V, making a rare commercial flight, placed the WorldView 3 satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base today.
WorldView 3 is easily the largest and most powerful commercial imaging satellite to date, and also the first multi-payload, super-spectral, high-resolution one, for the first time competing with government imagery providers such as the venerable Landsat program. It will be able to photograph in infrared, and it carries a shortwave atmospheric sounder to assist in calibration, another first for a commercial spacecraft. Built by Ball Aerospace around a 1.1 meter telescope built by Exelis, and operated by DigitalGlobe, this will deliver resolution down to 1 foot (31 cm), unprecedented outside of military reconnaissance programs today; conveniently for Digital Globe, they received license from the US Government to sell imagery down to that level to the public.
The rest of the DigitalGlobe fleet are GeoEye 1 (at 41 cm resolution), WorldView 2 at 46 cm, WorldView 1 at 50, QuickBird at 61, and their first and still probably most famous spacecraft, Ikonos, at 82 cm resolution. All are still in service today. WorldView 3 has a design lifetime of at least 7 years, and should operate much longer.
Well, for a price. It is commercial, after all. 😉 The US government has now cleared DigitalGlobe to make its highest-resolution imagery available to the general public, and not just US intelligence agencies. This will help the company remain competitive as foreign commercial imaging companies come online, and give customers up to 16 inch resolution for black-and-white images; when their next satellite launches in August, they’ll be cleared to go down to 9.8 inch resolution for black-and-white and 3.3 foot resolution for color imagery.
The world is getting smaller again. 😉
SpaceflightNow: DigitalGlobe cleared to sell sharpest images to all buyers