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DigitalGlobe, Inc..
IndustrySatellite imagery
FoundedJanuary 1992
FounderWalter Scott
HeadquartersWestminster, Colorado, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Jeff Culwell Sr. Vice President, Operations
ProductsHigh-resolution satellite imagery and geospatial solutions
RevenueUS$ 654.6 million (2014)[1]
US$ 25.4 million (2014)[1]
US$ 18.5 million (2014)[1]
Total assetsUS$ 3,095.2 million (2014)[1]
Number of employees
1,200 (2014) Edit this on Wikidata
ParentMaxar Technologies

DigitalGlobe was 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 US$19.00 each to raise US$279 million in capital. On 5 October 2017, Maxar Technologies completed its acquisition of DigitalGlobe.[2]

The company's "WorldView" satellites should not be confused with the unrelated WorldView company (a stratospheric balloon operator).


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 North 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 2007, DigitalGlobe acquired online imagery provider GlobeXplorer to extend its imagery distribution capabilities via online APIs and web services.[8]

In 2011, DigitalGlobe was inducted into the Space Foundation's Space Technology Hall of Fame for its role in advancing commercial Earth-imaging satellites.[9]

In 2013, DigitalGlobe purchased GeoEye.[10][11]

In February 2017, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) and DigitalGlobe reached an agreement for MDA to acquire DigitalGlobe for US$2.4 billion.[12] As of May 2017, DigitalGlobe's image catalog contains 100 petabytes worth of data, and grows by 100 terabytes each day.[13] As of 5 October 2017, MDA has announced it has completed its acquisition of DigitalGlobe.[2] On 5 October 2017, DigitalGlobe and MDA Holdings Company merged to become Maxar Technologies[14]

On 30 December 2019, the company announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell MDA to a consortium of financial sponsors led by Northern Private Capital for CAD$1 billion (US$765 million). The sale included all of MDA's Canadian businesses, encompassing ground stations, radar satellite products, robotics, defense, and satellite components, representing approximately 1,900 employees.[15]

On 8 April 2020, the sale of the MDA assets to NPC officially closed. The newly formed privately held Canadian company was named MDA.[16][17]



EarlyBird-1 (COSPAR 1997-085A) commercial Earth imaging satellite was built for EarthWatch Inc. by CTA Space Systems (later part of Orbital Sciences Corporation) and launched on 24 December 1997, from the Svobodny Cosmodrome by a Start-1 launch vehicle.[18] It had a mass of 317 kg (699 lb) and a design life of 3 years (fuel reserves for 5 years). It included a panchromatic (black-and-white) camera with a 3 m (9.8 ft) resolution and a multispectral (color) camera with a 15 m (49 ft) resolution. The imaging sensor was derived from a 1998-cancelled NASA satellite called Clark (SSTI 2).[19] EarlyBird-1 was the first commercial satellite to be launched from the Svobodny Cosmodrome. Although the launch was successful, the satellite lost communications after only four days in orbit due to power system failure.[20]


IKONOS was launched 24 September 1999. It was the world's first high-resolution commercial imaging satellite to collect panchromatic (black-and-white) images with 0.8 m (2 ft 7 in) resolution and multispectral (color) imagery with 3.2 m (10 ft) resolution.[21] On 31 March 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.[22]


QuickBird, launched on 18 October 2001,[6] 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 (280 mi) altitude, 98° inclination Sun-synchronous orbit. An earlier launch attempt resulted in the loss of QuickBird-1; after this, the second satellite of the series, QuickBird-2 was launched and it is this satellite that became known simply as QuickBird (as no other QuickBird satellites were launched). 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 27 January 2015, QuickBird was de-orbited, exceeding her initial life expectancy by nearly 300%.[22]


The GeoEye-1 satellite collects images at 0.41 m (1 ft 4 in) panchromatic (black-and-white) and 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in) multispectral resolution. The satellite can collect up to 350,000 km2 (140,000 sq mi) of multispectral imagery per day. This is used for large-scale mapping projects. GeoEye-1 can revisit any point on Earth once every three days or sooner.

WorldView satellite system[edit]


Ball Aerospace built WorldView-1.[23] It was launched on 18 September 2007 from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Delta II 7920-10C. Launch services were provided by United Launch Alliance (ULA). The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGIA) is expected to be a major customer of WorldView-1 imagery.[24] It included a panchromatic only camera with a 50 cm (20 in) maximum resolution.


Ball Aerospace built WorldView-2. It was launched on 8 October 2009. DigitalGlobe partnered with Boeing commercial launch services to deliver WorldView-2 into a Sun-synchronous orbit.[25][26] The satellite includes a panchromatic sensor with a 46 cm (18 in) maximum resolution and a multispectral sensor of 184 cm (72 in)[27]


Ball Aerospace built WorldView-3. It was launched on 13 August 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 km2 (260,000 sq mi).[28]

Previously, DigitalGlobe was only licensed to sell images with a higher resolution than 50 cm (20 in) to the U.S. military.[29] However, DigitalGlobe obtained permission, in June 2014, from the United States Department of Commerce, to allow the company to more widely exploit its 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 (9.8 in) 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 launch vehicle in the 401 configuration on 13 August 2014, at 18:30 UTC from Vandenberg Space Launch Complex 3 (SLC-3E) at Vandenberg Air Force base.[30]

WorldView-3 is the industry's first multi-payload, super-spectral, high-resolution commercial satellite.[31]


The WorldView-4 satellite was designed to provide panchromatic images at a highest resolution of 31 cm (12 in), and multispectral images at 124 cm (49 in).[32] Originally named GeoEye-2, the spacecraft was designed and built by Lockheed Martin,[33] while the camera payload was provided by ITT Corporation.[34]

Following the merger of GeoEye and DigitalGlobe, in 2013, DigitalGlobe announced that GeoEye-2 would be completed as a ground spare to be launched if or when required.[35][36] It was renamed to WorldView-4 in July 2014, when the company announced that it would be launched in Fall 2016.[37][38] It was launched on 11 November 2016.

In January 2019, the company reported the failure of a control moment gyroscope on the satellite, rendering it inoperable.[39]

WorldView Legion[edit]

Currently being built by Maxar Technologies, WorldView Legion is Maxar's next generation of Earth observation satellites. WorldView Legion comprises six satellites planned to launch in 2023[40] into a mix of Sun-synchronous and mid-latitude orbits.[41][42] These satellites will replace imaging capability currently provided by Maxar's WorldView-1, WorldView-2 and GeoEye-1 Earth observation satellites.[43]

The six WorldView Legion satellites are contracted to launch on three flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicles.[44]

Customers and competitors[edit]

DigitalGlobe's customers range from urban planners, to conservation organizations like the Amazon Conservation Team,[45] to the U.S. federal agencies, including NASA[7] and the United States Department of Defense's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).[46] Much of Google Earth and Google Maps high resolution-imagery is provided by DigitalGlobe.[47]

DigitalGlobe's main competitor is Airbus with Spot and Pleiades satellites.[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Annual Reports". DigitalGlobe. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b "MDA-DG combined entity to be rebranded as Maxar Technologies". Geospatial World. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b Duman, Angie. "xyHt | Positioning and Measurement, Elevated". Archived from the original on 13 October 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Our Company". DigitalGlobe. 21 August 2014. Archived from the original on 5 August 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  5. ^ Markoff, John (12 February 1993). "Company News – A Plan for Close-Up Images of Earth From Space". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  6. ^ a b "DigitalGlobe – History". Archived from the original on 13 April 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2006.
  7. ^ a b "Scientific Data Purchase". NASA. Archived from the original on 29 September 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2006. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ Spacenews (29 June 2004). "DigitalGlobe Buys Web Based Imagery Firm". SpaceNews. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
  9. ^ "Story". Space Foundation. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  10. ^ "DigitalGlobe Agrees to Acquire GeoEye for About US$900 Million". 23 July 2012. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  11. ^ "DigitalGlobe completes acquisition of GeoEye". Geospatial World. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  12. ^ "MDA to acquire DigitalGlobe". SpaceNews. 24 February 2017.
  13. ^ Scoles, Sarah (17 May 2017). "The Best Way to Transmit Satellite Data? In Trucks. Really". Wired. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  14. ^ "MDA-DG combined entity to be rebranded as Maxar Technologies". Geospatial World. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  15. ^ "Maxar to Sell MDA for US$765 Million". 30 December 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  16. ^ "Iconic Space Technology Firm Returns to Canadian Control as Sale of MDA to Northern Private Capital Closes". Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  17. ^ "MDA". MDA. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  18. ^ "EarlyBird-1". NASA. Retrieved 25 February 2016. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  19. ^ "Clark (SSTI 2)".
  20. ^ "EarlyBird-1".
  21. ^ "IKONOS Data Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  22. ^ a b "DigitalGlobe satellites IKONOS and QuickBird-2 retire after years of service". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  23. ^ "DigitalGlobe announces Ball building WorldView-2 satellite". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2 February 2007.
  24. ^ "A Satellite's First Breath". O'Reilly Media. Archived from the original on 22 September 2007.
  25. ^ "Boeing Selected to Co-Develop and Launch Next DigitalGlobe Imaging Satellite". Boeing. 2004. Archived from the original on 18 March 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2006.
  26. ^ "Delta II Worldview-2 mission booklet". Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  27. ^ "Features and Benefits for WorldView-2". Archived from the original on 8 October 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
  28. ^ "WorldView-3 Data Sheet" (PDF). DigitalGlobe. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 August 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  29. ^ Hollingham, Richard (11 February 2014). "Future – Inside the Google Earth satellite factory". BBC. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  30. ^ "U.S. Department of Commerce Relaxes Resolution Restrictions DigitalGlobe Extends Lead in Image Quality". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  31. ^ "WorldView-3 Data Sheet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  32. ^ "WorldView-4" (PDF). DigitalGlobe. November 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  33. ^ Ferster, Warren (11 March 2010). "Lockheed Martin Selected To Build GeoEye-2 Imaging Satellite". SpaceNews. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  34. ^ Lockwood, Irene (10 April 2012). "ITT Exelis delivers imaging system for next-generation, high-resolution GeoEye-2 satellite" (Press release). ITT Exelis. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  35. ^ "DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 Satellite Continues on Track for Mid-2014 Launch" (Press release). DigitalGlobe. 4 February 2013. Archived from the original on 13 February 2013.
  36. ^ Ray, Justin (4 February 2013). "One commercial Earth-imager deferred in favor of another". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  37. ^ "DigitalGlobe Announces Second 30-Centimeter Satellite to Launch in Mid-2016" (Press release). DigitalGlobe. 31 July 2014. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  38. ^ Painter, Kristen Leigh (31 July 2014). "Demand moves DigitalGlobe to speed launch of high-powered satellite". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  39. ^ "Maxar Technologies Reports Failure of its WorldView-4 Imaging Satellite". Maxar. 7 January 2019.
  40. ^ "Third Quarter 2022 Earnings Call" (PDF). Maxar Technologies. 3 November 2022. pp. 4–5. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  41. ^ Sheetz, Michael (5 August 2021). "Space company Maxar stock drops after delaying launch of next-generation satellites". CNBC. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  42. ^ Krebs, Gunter (6 August 2021). "WorldView-Legion 1, ..., 6". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  43. ^ Clark, Stephen (28 March 2018). "DigitalGlobe books two launches with SpaceX for Earth-imaging fleet". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  44. ^ Avery, Greg (23 February 2022). "Westminster-based Maxar's satellite launches shift to later in 2022". Yahoo Finance. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  45. ^ "Amazon Conservation Team Presented with the Seeing a Better World Award". 8 August 2015.
  46. ^ "National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Awards US$12 Million ClearView Contract to DigitalGlobe". 16 March 2006.
  47. ^ Hafner, Katie and Saritha Rai (20 December 2005). "Governments Tremble at Google's Bird's-Eye View". The New York Times.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  48. ^ Effigis. "Main Commercial Earth Observation Satellites Distributor". Effigis. Retrieved 20 December 2021.

External links[edit]