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DigitalGlobe, Inc..
Industry Satellite imagery
Founded January 1992
Founder Walter Scott
Headquarters Longmont, Colorado, United States
Area served
Key people
Jeffrey R. Tarr
Revenue US$421.4 million (2012) [1]
US$65.9 million (2012) [1]
US$39.0 million (2012) [1]
Total assets US$1,577.5 million (2012) [1]

DigitalGlobe (NYSEDGI) 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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[3]

In 1995, the company became EarthWatch Incorporated, merging WorldView with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.'s commercial remote sensing operations.[6] In September 2001, EarthWatch became DigitalGlobe.[7]

In 2011, DigitalGlobe was inducted into the Space Foundation's Space Technology Hall of Fame for its role in advancing commercial Earth-imaging satellites.[8]

In 2013, DigitalGlobe purchased GeoEye.


Early Bird 1[edit]

Early Bird 1 was launched for Earth Watch Inc. on December 24, 1997 from the Svobodny Cosmodrome by a Start-1 launch vehicle.[9] 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.


Main article: QuickBird

QuickBird, launched on October 18, 2001,[6] is DigitalGlobe's primary satellite. It was built in partnership with Ball Aerospace and Orbital Sciences, 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.



Ball Aerospace built WorldView-1.[10] 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.[11] It included a panchromatic only camera with a 50 cm (20 in) maximum resolution. It was the most powerful commercial satellite when launched.


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.[12][13] The satellite includes a panchromatic sensor with a 46 cm (18 in) maximum resolution and a multispectral sensor of 184 cm (72 in)[14]


Ball Aerospace built WorldView-3. It has a maximum resolution of 25 cm (9.8 in). DigitalGlobe expects to operate WorldView-3 at an altitude of 617 km (383 mi), where it will have an average revisit time of less than one day. Over the course of a day it will be able to collect imagery of up to 680,000 km2 (260,000 sq mi).[15]

Previously, DigitalGlobe was only licensed to sell images with a resolution below 50 cm (20 in) to the US military.[16] 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.[17]


DigitalGlobe’s customers range from urban planners, to the U.S. federal agencies, including NASA[7] and the United States Department of Defense's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).[18] Much of Google Earth and Google Maps high resolution-imagery is provided by DigitalGlobe,[19] as is imagery used in TerraServer.[20] DigitalGlobe's main competitors were GeoEye (formerly Orbimage and Space Imaging), before their merger with DigitalGlobe, and still Spot Image.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ DigitalGlobe (DGI), Wikinvest
  3. ^ a b EarlyBird Satellite Expected to Sharpen Focus of Commercial Remote Sensing Industry - Retrieved September 8, 2008
  4. ^ DigitalGlobe company history - Retrieved September 26, 2013
  5. ^ COMPANY NEWS; A Plan for Close-Up Images of Earth From Space - New York Times - February 12, 1993
  6. ^ a b "Digital Globe - History". Archived from the original on 2006-04-13. Retrieved 2006-04-19. 
  7. ^ a b "Scientific Data Purchase". NASA. Archived from the original on 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2006-04-19. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Early Bird 1". NASA. 
  10. ^ "DigitalGlobe announces Ball building WorldView 2 satellite". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  11. ^ "A Satellite's First Breath". O'Reilly Media. 
  12. ^ "Boeing Selected to Co-Develop and Launch Next DigitalGlobe Imaging Satellite". Boeing. 2004. Retrieved 2006-04-19. 
  13. ^ "Delta II Worldview-2 mission booklet". BLS. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "WorldView-3 Data Sheet". DigitalGlobe. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Awards $12 Million ClearView Contract to DigitalGlobe". March 16, 2006. 
  19. ^ Hafner, Katie and Saritha Rai (December 20, 2005). "Governments Tremble at Google's Bird's-Eye View". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ " - Image Providers". Archived from the original on 2006-03-17. Retrieved 2006-04-19. 

External links[edit]