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Organization DigitalGlobe
Mission Type Earth observation
Contractor Ball Aerospace & Technologies[1]
Satellite of Earth
Launch October 18, 2001 on a Delta 7320-10 D288
Launch site Vandenberg Air Force Base SLC-2W
Design life 5 years[2]
Mission duration 13
Mass 1100 kg (launch)[2]

951 kg (dry)[2]

Webpage http://www.digitalglobe.com/company/content-collection/quickbird
Orbital elements
Semi-major axis 6828 km
Inclination 98 degrees
Orbital Period 93.4 minutes
Visible cameras 61 cm panchromatic

2.4 meter multispectral

QuickBird was a high-resolution commercial earth observation satellite, owned by DigitalGlobe launched in 2001 and [3]decayed in 2015 [4] was the first satellite in a constellation of three scheduled to be in orbit by 2008. QuickBird used Ball Aerospace's Global Imaging System 2000 (BGIS 2000).[1] The satellite collected panchromatic (black and white) imagery at 61 centimeter resolution and multispectral imagery at 2.44- (at 450 km) to 1.63-meter (at 300km) resolution, as orbit altitude is lowered during the end of mission life.[5]

At this resolution, detail such as buildings and other infrastructure are easily visible. However, this resolution is insufficient for working with smaller objects such as a license plate on a car. The imagery can be imported into remote sensing image processing software, as well as into GIS packages for analysis. The imagery can also be used as a backdrop for mapping applications, such as Google Earth and Google Maps.

Contractors include Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Kodak and Fokker Space.

QuickBird I[edit]

The first QuickBird was launched in November 2000, by EarthWatch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. QB-1 failed to reach planned orbit and was declared a failure.[6] Prior to QuickBird I and II, DigitalGlobe launched the EarlyBird 1 successfully in 1997 but the satellite lost communications after only four days in orbit due to power system failure.[2]

QuickBird II[edit]

QuickBird II (also QuickBird-2 or Quickbird 2), was launched October 18, 2001 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket.[2] The satellite was initially expected to collect at 1 meter resolution but after a license was granted in 2000 by the Department of Commerce/NASA, DigitalGlobe was able launch the QuickBird II with 0.61 meter panchromatic and 2.4 meter multispectral (previously planned 4 meter) resolution.[2]

Mission Extension[edit]

In April 2011, the Quickbird satellite was raised from an orbit of 450 km to 482 km.[7] The process, started in March 2011, will extend the satellite's life. Before the operation the useful life of Quickbird was expected to drop off around mid-2012 but after the successful mission, DigitalGlobe operators expect the new orbit to prolong the satellite life into early 2014.[7]


The last picture was acquired on on December 17, 2014. On January 27, 2015 QuickBird re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.



  • 60 cm (24 in) (1.37 μrad) panchromatic at nadir
  • 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in) (5.47 μrad) multispectral at nadir
    • MS Channels: blue (450-520 nm), green (520-600 nm), red (630-690 nm), near-IR (760-890 nm)[8]

Swath width and area size

  • Nominal swath width: 18 km at nadir
  • Accessible ground swath: 544 km centered on the satellite ground track (to 30° off nadir)
  • Area of interest
    • Single area: 18 km by 18 km
    • Strip: 18 km by 360 km


  • Altitude (original): 450 km – 97.2 degree sun synchronous circular orbit[2]
  • Altitude (post-orbit modification): 482 km – 98 degree sun synchronous inclination
  • Revisit frequency: 1 to 3.5 days depending on latitude at 60 cm resolution[8]
  • Viewing angle: Agile spacecraft, in-track and cross-track pointing[8]
  • Period 94.2 minutes

On-board storage

  • 128 Gigabit capacity (approximately 57 single area images)


  • Fueled for 7 years
  • 2100 lb (950 kg), 3.04 m (10 ft) in length


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ball Aerospace: QuickBird
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "QuickBird-2". EOPortal.org. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Digitalglobe: QuickBird
  5. ^ "DigitalGlobe Data Sheet: Quickbird" (PDF). DigitalGlobe.com. DigitalGlobe. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  6. ^ DigitalGlode History - QuickBird I
  7. ^ a b "DigitalGlobe Completes Quickbird Satellite Orbit Raise". DigitalGlobe News Room. April 18, 2011. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  8. ^ a b c "QuickBird 2 was successfully launched on 18 Oct 2001". Center for Remote Imaging, Sensing & Processing. 2001. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Mehuron, Tamar A., Assoc. Editor (August 2008). "2008 USAF Space Almanac - Major Civilian Satellites in Military Use" (PDF). Air Force Magazine (Pub: Air Force Association) 91 (8): pp.49–50. 

External links[edit]