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GeoEye-1 is a high-resolution earth observation satellite owned by GeoEye, which was launched in September 2008.


On 2004-12-01 General Dynamics C4 Systems announced it had been awarded a contract worth approximately $209 million to build the OrbView-5 satellite.[1] Its sensor is designed by the ITT Corporation.

The satellite, now known as GeoEye-1, was originally scheduled for April 2008 but lost its 30-day launch slot to a U.S. government mission which had been delayed. It was rescheduled for launch August 22, 2008 from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Delta II launch vehicle.[2] The launch was postponed to September 4, 2008, due to unavailability of the Big Crow telemetry-relay aircraft.[3][4] It was delayed again to September 6 because Hurricane Hanna interfered with its launch crews.

The launch took place successfully on September 6 at 11:50:57 a.m. PDT (1850:57 UTC). The GeoEye-1 satellite separated successfully from its Delta II launch vehicle at 12:49 p.m. PDT (1949 UTC), 58 minutes and 56 seconds after launch.[5]

Specifications and operation

GeoEye-1 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.

At the time of its launch, GeoEye-1 was the world’s highest resolution commercial earth-imaging satellite.[6] GeoEye-1 was manufactured in Gilbert, Arizona by General Dynamics and launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The first image was returned on October 7, of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.[7]

Google, which has its logo on the side of the rocket, has exclusive online mapping use of its data. While GeoEye-1 is capable of imagery with details the size of 41 centimetres (16 in), that resolution will only be available to the government. Google will have access to details of 50 centimetres (20 in). Prior maximum commercial imagery was 60 centimetres (24 in).[8]

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Google both paid $502 million for the satellite and upgrades to GeoEye's four ground stations.[9]

  • Mass at launch: 1955 kg.[10]
  • Bus mass: 1260 kg.[10]
  • Solar panels: GaAs, 3862W at the end of the life.[10]
  • Data Downlink: 150 or 740 Mbps, X-Band.[10]
  • Aperture: 1.1 m[10]
  • Focal length: 13.3 m.[10]
  • Field of View: more then 1.28°[10]
  • Design lifetime: 7 years in orbit, fully redundant.[10]

See also



  1. "General Dynamics to Build Satellite to Improve U.S. Government Access to High-Resolution Earth Imagery". GD. 
  2. "GeoEye-1 Launch Details". GeoEye. 
  3. Restatement Pulls GeoEye's Goals Back Down to Earth
  4. Justin Ray. "Delta 2 rocket launch of GeoEye craft postponed". Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  5. Justin Ray. "Delta 2-335 Mission Status Center". Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  6. "GeoEye-1 Launch Continues On Track". Seeking Alpha. 2008-07-11. 
  7. "Google's Super Satellite Captures First Image". Wired. 2008-10-07. 
  8. Google to buy GeoEye satellite imagery - August 29, 2008
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7

External links

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