DigitalGlobe, Inc..
IndustrySatellite imagery
FoundedJanuary 1992
FounderWalter Scott
HeadquartersWestminster, Colorado, United States
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]
ParentMaxar Technologies

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, 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 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 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.

In February 2017, MDA and DigitalGlobe reached an agreement for MDA to acquire DigitalGlobe for US $2.4B.[10]

As of May 2017, DigitalGlobe's image catalog contains 100 petabytes worth of data, and grows by 100 terabytes each day.[11]

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[12]

On December 30, 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.[13]

On April 8, 2020, the sale of the MDA assets to NPC officially closed. The newly formed privately-held Canadian company was named MDA.[14][15]



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 December 24, 1997, from the Svobodny Cosmodrome by a Start-1 launch vehicle.[16] It had a mass of 317 kg 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).[17] Early Bird 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.[18]


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 0.8 m resolution and multispectral (color) imagery with 3.2-meter resolution.[19] 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.[20]


QuickBird, launched on October 18, 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 altitude, −98 degree 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 January 27, 2015, QuickBird was de-orbited, exceeding her initial life expectancy by nearly 300%.[20]


The GeoEye-1 satellite collects images at 0.41-meter panchromatic (black-and-white) and 1.65-meter multispectral resolution. The satellite can collect up to 350,000 square kilometers 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


Ball Aerospace built WorldView-1.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23][24] The satellite includes a panchromatic sensor with a 46 cm (18 in) maximum resolution and a multispectral sensor of 184 cm (72 in)[25]


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 km2 (260,000 sq mi).[26]

Previously, DigitalGlobe was only licensed to sell images with a higher resolution than 50 cm (20 in) to the US military.[27] However, DigitalGlobe obtained permission, in June 2014, from the U.S. 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 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.[28]

WorldView-3 is the industry's first multi-payload, super-spectral, high-resolution commercial satellite.[29]


The WorldView-4 satellite was 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).[30] Originally named GeoEye-2, the spacecraft was designed and built by Lockheed Martin,[31] while the camera payload was provided by ITT Corporation.[32]

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.[33][34] It was renamed to WorldView-4 in July 2014, when the company announced that it would be launched in Fall 2016.[35][36] It was launched on November 11, 2016.

In January 2019, the company reported the failure of a control moment gyroscope on the satellite, rendering it inoperable.[37]


Currently being built by SSL, WorldView-Legion is DigitalGlobe's next generation of earth observation satellites. WorldView-Legion consists of six satellites planned to start launching in 2021 into a mix of sun-synchronous and mid-latitude orbits.[38] These satellites will replace imaging capability currently provided by DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1, WorldView-2 and GeoEye-1 Earth observation satellites.[39]

The first block of WorldView-Legion satellites is contracted to launch on two flight-tested SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets in 2021.[40]

Customers and competitors

DigitalGlobe’s customers range from urban planners, to conservation organizations like the Amazon Conservation Team,[41] to the U.S. federal agencies, including NASA[7] and the United States Department of Defense's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).[42] Much of Google Earth and Google Maps high resolution-imagery is provided by DigitalGlobe,[43] DigitalGlobe's main competitors were GeoEye (formerly Orbimage and Space Imaging), before their merger with DigitalGlobe.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "DigitalGlobe – Investors – Annual Reports". Archived from the original on 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  2. ^ a b "MDA-DG combined entity to be rebranded as Maxar Technologies". Geospatial World. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  3. ^ a b Duman, Angie. "xyHt | Positioning and Measurement, Elevated". Archived from the original on 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  4. ^ "Our Company". DigitalGlobe. 2014-08-21. Archived from the original on 2014-08-05. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  5. ^ Markoff, John (1993-02-12). "Company News – A Plan for Close-Up Images of Earth From Space". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  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. ^ SpaceNews ». "Media". SpaceNews. Retrieved 2007-01-11.
  9. ^ Space Foundation RSS Feed ». "Media". Space Foundation. Archived from the original on 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Scoles, Sarah (May 17, 2017). "The Best Way to Transmit Satellite Data? In Trucks. Really". Wired. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  12. ^ Desk, News (2017-10-05). "MDA-DG combined entity to be rebranded as Maxar Technologies". Geospatial World. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  13. ^ "Maxar to Sell MDA for $765 Million – Parabolic Arc". Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  14. ^ MDA. "Iconic Space Technology Firm Returns to Canadian Control as Sale of MDA to Northern Private Capital Closes". Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  15. ^ "MDA". MDA. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  16. ^ "Early Bird 1". NASA. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "IKONOS Data Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  20. ^ a b "DigitalGlobe satellites IKONOS and QuickBird-2 retire after years of service". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  21. ^ "DigitalGlobe announces Ball building WorldView 2 satellite". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved February 2, 2007.
  22. ^ "A Satellite's First Breath". O'Reilly Media. Archived from the original on 2007-09-22.
  23. ^ "Boeing Selected to Co-Develop and Launch Next DigitalGlobe Imaging Satellite". Boeing. 2004. Archived from the original on March 18, 2006. Retrieved April 19, 2006.
  24. ^ "Delta II Worldview-2 mission booklet". BLS. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  25. ^ "Features and Benefits for WorldView-2". Archived from the original on October 8, 2008. Retrieved September 8, 2008.
  26. ^ "WorldView-3 Data Sheet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 4, 2014. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  27. ^ Hollingham, Richard (February 11, 2014). "Future – Inside the Google Earth satellite factory". BBC. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  28. ^ "U.S. Department of Commerce Relaxes Resolution Restrictions DigitalGlobe Extends Lead in Image Quality". Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  29. ^ "WorldView-3 Data Sheet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  30. ^ "WorldView-4" (PDF). DigitalGlobe. November 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 24, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  31. ^ Ferster, Warren (March 11, 2010). "Lockheed Martin Selected To Build GeoEye-2 Imaging Satellite". Space News. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  32. ^ Lockwood, Irene (April 10, 2012). "ITT Exelis delivers imaging system for next-generation, high-resolution GeoEye-2 satellite" (Press release). ITT Exelis. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  33. ^ "DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 Satellite Continues on Track for Mid-2014 Launch" (Press release). DigitalGlobe. February 4, 2013. Archived from the original on February 13, 2013.
  34. ^ Ray, Justin (February 4, 2013). "One commercial Earth-imager deferred in favor of another". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  35. ^ "DigitalGlobe Announces Second 30-Centimeter Satellite to Launch in Mid-2016" (Press release). DigitalGlobe. July 31, 2014. Archived from the original on October 20, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  36. ^ Painter, Kristen Leigh (July 31, 2014). "Demand moves DigitalGlobe to speed launch of high-powered satellite". The Denver Post. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  37. ^ "Maxar Technologies Reports Failure of its WorldView-4 Imaging Satellite". Maxar. January 7, 2019.
  38. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "WorldView-Legion 1, ..., 6". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  39. ^ Clark, Stephen (March 28, 2018). "DigitalGlobe books two launches with SpaceX for Earth-imaging fleet". Space Flight Now. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  40. ^ "Maxar Technologies' DigitalGlobe Selects SpaceX to Launch its Next-generation WorldView Legion Satellites". March 14, 2018. Retrieved March 14, 2018. Maxar Technologies’ DigitalGlobe Selects SpaceX to Launch its Next-generation WorldView Legion Satellites.
  41. ^ "Amazon Conservation Team Presented with the Seeing a Better World Award". August 8, 2015.
  42. ^ "National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Awards $12 Million ClearView Contract to DigitalGlobe". March 16, 2006.
  43. ^ Hafner, Katie and Saritha Rai (December 20, 2005). "Governments Tremble at Google's Bird's-Eye View". The New York Times.

External links

  • Official website