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GeoEye Inc.
Type Public (NASDAQGEOY)
Founded 1992 Orbital Imaging Corporation
2006 GeoEye
Founder(s) Orbital Sciences Corporation
Headquarters Dulles, Virginia, United States
Key people James Alan Abrahamson (chairman), Matthew O'Connell, (CEO)[1]
Revenue USD$183.76 million (2007-12-31)[2]
Operating income USD$80.33 million (2007-12-31)[2]
Net income USD$42.39 million (2007-12-31)[2]
Total assets USD$789.95 million (2007-12-31)[2]
Total equity USD$216.92 million (2007-12-31)[2]
Employees 410 (2008-06-30)[2]

GeoEye Inc.,(formerly Orbital Imaging Corporation or ORBIMAGE) is a commercial satellite imagery company based in Dulles, Virginia[3] that is the world's largest space imaging corporation.[4]

The company was founded in 1992 as a division of Orbital Sciences Corporation in the wake of the 1992 Land Remote Sensing Policy Act which permitted private companies to enter the satellite imaging business. The division was spun off in 1997. It changed its name to GeoEye in 2006 after acquiring Denver, Colorado-based Space Imaging for $58 million.[4] Space Imaging was founded and controlled by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. Its principal asset was the IKONOS satellite.

Although ORBIMAGE's first chairman was Orbital chairman David W. Thompson, and Orbital at the time owned more than 60 percent of the stock, it no longer has a substantial interest in the new company.[5]

GeoEye provides 253 million square kilometers of satellite map images to Microsoft and Yahoo! search engines. Google has exclusive online mapping use of the new GeoEye-1 satellite.[6] It is a major client of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

GeoEye's headquarters are in Dulles, Virginia. Satellite Operations are conducted in Dulles, Virginia and in Thornton, Colorado. Locations in Saint Louis, Missouri, and Norman, Oklahoma provide additional image processing. There are multiple ground stations located worldwide.

GeoEye's primary competitors are DigitalGlobe and Spot Image.

Since 2001, its chairman has been former astronaut and 3-star general James A. Abrahamson.[7]


GeoEye operates its own fleet of Earth observation satellites, which provide visible and near-infrared images of land and sea at resolutions below 1 m (3.3 ft).


Launched in 1999 by Space Imaging, IKONOS collects 82 cm (32 in) panchromatic and 3.2 m (10 ft) multispectral data at a rate of over 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi) per minute. IKONOS orbits the Earth every 98 minutes at an altitude of approximately 680 km (420 mi). It travels a sun-synchronous orbit, passing a given longitude at 10:30 AM local time. IKONOS is operated out of Thornton, Colorado. It derived its name from the Greek term eikŝn for image.[8]


Launched in 2003 by ORBIMAGE, OrbView-3 acquired 1 m (3.3 ft) panchromatic and 4 m (13 ft) multispectral imagery in an 8-kilometer-wide swath. The satellite collected up to 210,000 km2 (81,000 sq mi) of imagery each day. It revisited each location on Earth in less than three days with the ability to collect data up to 50 degrees off nadir. Similar to IKONOS, this satellite passes a given longitude at 10:30 AM local time.

On April 23, 2007, GeoEye, Inc. filed a Form 8-K to announce that its OrbView-3 satellite is permanently out of service. Though GeoEye remains in control of the satellite, it no longer produces usable imagery.[9][10]


The satellite also called SeaStar was launched in 1997 by ORBIMAGE, OrbView-2 collects color imagery of the Earth's entire land and ocean surfaces on a daily basis. Commercial fishing vessels use OrbView-2 data for detecting oceanographic conditions used to create fishing maps. The satellite also provides broad-area coverage in 2,800 kilometer-wide swaths, which are routinely used in naval operations, environmental monitoring, and global crop assessment applications. OrbView-2 carries NASA's SeaWiFS sensor. OrbView-2 is operated out of Dulles, Virginia.[11]


GeoEye-1 launched on September 6, 2008 at 11:50:57 a.m. PDT (1850:57 UTC). The satellite separated successfully from its Delta II launch vehicle at 12:49 p.m. PDT (1949 UTC), 58 minutes and 56 seconds after launch.[12] The satellite provides 41 centimetres (16 in) panchromatic and 1.65 meter multispectral imagery in 15.2km swaths. The spacecraft is intended for a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 425 miles (684 km) and an inclination of 98 degrees, with a 10:30 a.m. equator crossing time. GeoEye-1 can image up to 60 degrees off nadir. It is operated out of Dulles, Virginia and was built in Arizona by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.


GeoEye-2, which has a contract with ITT Corporation for the imaging is scheduled launch in 2011 or 2012 and has a planned resolution of 25 cm (9.8 in)[6]

Aerial imagery

GeoEye expanded into aerial imagery in March 2007, with the purchase of MJ Harden from General Electric Company.[13] MJ Harden, based in Mission, KS, is now a wholly owned subsidiary that operates two aircraft that carry a digital mapping camera (DMC) and a sophisticated LiDAR imaging system. MJ Harden was founded by Milton J. Harden in 1956 to provide Photogrammetry services.[14] GE Power Systems bought the company in 2003.[15]

Regional affiliates


  1. "(Interview with Matt O'Connell)". Future Tense (American Public Media). 2008-06-26. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5
  4. 4.0 4.1
  6. 6.0 6.1 Google to buy GeoEye satellite imagery - August 29, 2008
  9. OrbView 3 Satellite Malfunctions
  10. SEC Form 8-K Regarding Orbview-3 Technical Problem
  12. Justin Ray. "Delta 2-335 Mission Status Center". Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  13. GeoEye Acquires MJ Harden Aerial Business From GE Oil & Gas
  14. Geospacial Services -
  15. Power Systems buys M.J. Harden Associates in Kansas City - - August 21, 2003.

External links