DigitalGlobe is an American commercial vendor of space imagery and geospatial content, and operator of civilian remote sensing spacecraft. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange on 14 May 2009, selling 14.7 million shares at $19.00 each to raise $279 million in capital. On 5 October 2017, MDA has completed its acquisition of DigitalGlobe.
The WorldView satellites should not be confused with WorldView company, a division of Paragon Space Development Corporation offering flights to near-space.
WorldView Imaging Corporation was founded in January 1992 in Oakland, California in anticipation of the 1992 Land Remote Sensing Policy Act (enacted in October 1992) which permitted private companies to enter the satellite imaging business. Its founder was Dr Walter Scott, who was joined by co-founder and CEO Doug Gerull in late 1992. In 1993, the company received the first high resolution commercial remote sensing satellite license issued under the 1992 Act. The company was initially funded with private financing from Silicon Valley sources and interested corporations in N. America, Europe, and Japan. Dr. Scott was head of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories "Brilliant Pebbles" and "Brilliant Eyes" projects which were part of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Doug Gerull was the executive in charge of the Mapping Sciences division at the Intergraph Corporation. The company's first remote sensing license from the United States Department of Commerce allowed it to build a commercial remote sensing satellite capable of collecting images with 3 m (9.8 ft) resolution.
In 1995, the company became EarthWatch Incorporated, merging WorldView with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.'s commercial remote sensing operations. In September 2001, EarthWatch became DigitalGlobe.
In 2007, DigitalGlobe acquired online imagery provider GlobeXplorer to extend its imagery distribution capabilities via online APIs and web services.
In 2011, DigitalGlobe was inducted into the Space Foundation's Space Technology Hall of Fame for its role in advancing commercial Earth-imaging satellites.
In 2013, DigitalGlobe purchased GeoEye.
In February 2017, MDA and DigitalGlobe reached an agreement for MDA to acquire DigitalGlobe for US $2.4B.
As of May 2017, DigitalGlobe's image catalog contains 100 petabytes worth of data, and grows by 100 terabytes each day.
As on 5 October 2017, MDA has announced announced it has completed its acquisition of DigitalGlobe.
EarlyBird-1 was launched for Earth Watch Inc. on December 24, 1997, from the Svobodny Cosmodrome by a Start-1 launch vehicle. It included a panchromatic camera with a 3 m (9.8 ft) resolution and a multispectral camera with a 15 m (49 ft) resolution. Early Bird 1 was the first commercial satellite to be launched from the Svobodny Cosmodrome.
IKONOS was launched September 24, 1999. It was the world's first high-resolution commercial imaging satellite to collect panchromatic (black-and-white) images with .80 m resolution and multispectral (color) imagery with 3.2-meter resolution. On March 31, 2015, IKONOS was officially decommissioned after more than doubling her mission design life, spending 5,680 days in orbit and making 83,131 trips around the earth.
QuickBird, launched on October 18, 2001, was DigitalGlobe's primary satellite until early 2015. It was built by Ball Aerospace, and launched by a Boeing Delta II. It is in a 450 km altitude, −98 degree inclination sun-synchronous orbit. An earlier launch attempt resulted in the loss of QuickBird-1. It included a panchromatic camera with a 60 cm (24 in) resolution and a multispectral camera with a 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in) resolution. On January 27, 2015, QuickBird was de-orbited, exceeding her initial life expectancy by nearly 300%.
The GeoEye-1 satellite is equipped with some of the most advanced technology ever used in a commercial remote sensing system. The satellite collects images at .41-meter panchromatic (black-and-white) and 1.65-meter multispectral resolution. The satellite can collect up to 350,000 square kilometers of pan-sharpened multispectral imagery per day. This capability is ideal for large-scale mapping projects. GeoEye-1 can revisit any point on Earth once every three days or sooner.
Ball Aerospace built WorldView-1. It was launched on September 18, 2007 from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Delta II 7920-10C. Launch services were provided by United Launch Alliance. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is expected to be a major customer of WorldView-1 imagery. It included a panchromatic only camera with a 50 cm (20 in) maximum resolution.
Ball Aerospace built WorldView-2. It was launched on October 8, 2009. DigitalGlobe partnered with Boeing commercial launch services to deliver WorldView-2 into a sun-synchronous orbit. The satellite includes a panchromatic sensor with a 46 cm (18 in) maximum resolution and a multispectral sensor of 184 cm (72 in)
Ball Aerospace built WorldView-3. It was launched on August 13, 2014. It has a maximum resolution of 25 cm (9.8 in). WorldView-3 operates at an altitude of 617 km (383 mi), where it has an average revisit time of less than once per day. Over the course of a day it is able to collect imagery of up to 680,000 km (260,000 sq mi).
Previously, DigitalGlobe was only licensed to sell images with a resolution below 50 cm (20 in) to the US military. However, DigitalGlobe obtained permission, in June 2014, from the U.S. Department of Commerce, to allow the company to more widely exploit its highest-quality and industry-leading commercial satellite imagery. The company was permitted to offer customers the highest resolution imagery available from their constellation. Additionally, the updated approvals allowed the sale of imagery to customers at up to 25 cm panchromatic and 100 cm (39 in) multispectral ground sample distance (GSD), beginning six months after WorldView-3 became operational. WorldView-3 was launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in the 401 configuration on August 13, 2014, at 11:30 local time from SLC-3 at Vandenberg Air Force base.
WorldView-3 is the industry's first multi-payload, super-spectral, high-resolution commercial satellite.
The WorldView-4 satellite is designed to provide panchromatic images at a highest resolution of 0.31 meters per pixel (12.2 in/px), and multispectral images at 1.24 meters per pixel (48.8 in/px). Originally named GeoEye-2, the spacecraft was designed and built by Lockheed Martin, while the camera payload was provided by ITT Corporation.
Following the merger of GeoEye and DigitalGlobe, DigitalGlobe announced that GeoEye-2 would be completed as a ground spare to be launched if or when required. It was renamed to WorldView-4 in July 2014, when the company announced that it would be launched in Fall 2016. It was launched on 11 November 2016.
DigitalGlobe’s customers range from urban planners, to conservation organizations like the Amazon Conservation Team, to the U.S. federal agencies, including NASA and the United States Department of Defense's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Much of Google Earth and Google Maps high resolution-imagery is provided by DigitalGlobe, as is imagery used in TerraServer and Apple Maps. DigitalGlobe's main competitors were GeoEye (formerly Orbimage and Space Imaging), before their merger with DigitalGlobe, and still Spot Image.