November 16, 2016 – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 satellite for DigitalGlobe lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on November 11 at 11:30 a.m. MST. Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services procured the Atlas V for this mission, which marked the 137th consecutive successful Atlas launch.
“ULA is honored to celebrate the successful launch of the WorldView-4 satellite for DigitalGlobe and Lockheed Martin,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Human and Commercial Services. “This morning’s Atlas V launch delivered the WorldView-4 satellite into near sun-synchronous orbit during a flawless flight. ULA is proud to have launched the entire constellation of DigitalGobe’s satellites and served in an essential role to get this revolutionary capability to orbit.”
The Lockheed Martin-built WorldView-4 satellite will more than double DigitalGlobe’s capacity to collect the world’s highest-resolution 30 centimeter commercial satellite imagery and will accelerate the growth of DigitalGlobe’s 80-petabyte, 16-year time-lapse image library. The fifth active satellite in DigitalGlobe’s constellation, WorldView-4 will enhance global transparency and security, power location-enabled applications and services, support the response to global humanitarian crises, and much more.
“WorldView-4 dramatically extends DigitalGlobe’s position as the industry leader in earth imagery, and insight into our changing planet,” said Jeffrey R. Tarr, Chief Executive Officer of DigitalGlobe. “The importance of today’s success to our customers and shareowners is evidenced by the unprecedented pre-launch demand for this new capacity. This expansion of the DigitalGlobe constellation will accelerate our efforts to build out the digital globe and enable our customers to derive new insights and make critical decisions with confidence.”
WorldView-4 will orbit Earth every 90 minutes, traveling 17,000 miles per hour and capturing as much as 680,000 square kilometers of the Earth’s surface daily (18 terabytes) – the equivalent of the land area of Texas. The satellite will capture images so clear that viewers will be able to distinguish between a sedan, van, and truck from nearly 400 miles in space – the same technology employed on DigitalGlobe’s other WorldView satellites. The amount of data collected will be equivalent to taking 9,000,000 images a day with your cell phone.
Operating at an expected altitude of 617 km in coordination with the DigitalGlobe WorldView-3 satellite, WorldView-4’s data-rich imagery will enable customers to search for new sources of minerals and fuels, manage forests and farms and accelerate DigitalGlobe’s living digital inventory of the surface of the earth.
“Lockheed Martin is proud of today’s successful launch and our longstanding partnership with DigitalGlobe,” said Rick Ambrose, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “From the world’s first high-resolution commercial imaging satellite, IKONOS, to the state-of-the-art WorldView-4, Lockheed Martin and DigitalGlobe have an unparalleled legacy of innovation in remote sensing.”
Seven CubeSats were also launched on the Atlas V as an auxiliary payload. The CubeSats, known collectively as ENTERPRISE, are unclassified technology demonstrations sponsored by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The CubeSats rode in the Aft Bulkhead Carrier, developed by the NRO and ULA, on the Centaur upper stage. ENTERPRISE is the fifth NRO mission to utilize ridesharing, but the first in which the organization has partnered with a commercial company. Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc. served as the integrator for all seven nano satellites. Including this latest launch, ULA has now launched 62 CubeSats into space.
WorldView-4 was originally scheduled to launch on September 16, but was delayed due to wildfires that burned more than 12,500 acres and damaged infrastructure at Vandenberg Air Force Base. More than 1100 firefighters battled the blaze.
“Today’s launch marks ULA’s ninth launch in 2016 and the 112th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006,” said Wentz. “Thank you to the men and women at the 30th Space Wing who worked tirelessly to combat and contain the fires that delayed a launch attempt in mid-September.”