September 22, 2016 – The ongoing response to the wildfires at Vandenberg Air Force Base will cause the launch of DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 satellite to slip past its previously planned September 26 date. The WorldView-4 team is working to identify a new launch date in early October.
DigitalGlobe has been imaging the Vandenberg area each day since the fires broke out and providing imagery to response teams on the ground. The WorldView-3 satellite captured the image (below) on the left four days ago, and the image on the right yesterday.
These false-color images were taken with the satellite’s shortwave infrared sensor, which is uniquely able to pierce through smoke and see where fires are burning on the ground. Four days ago, the fire line (shown in bright orange) was as close as 2.5 km from the Space Launch Complex (SLC)-3E. By yesterday, there were no active fires in this area (those are clouds obscuring the launch pad in yesterday’s image).
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V and its encapsulated satellite are secure and the team is continuing to monitor the fire and mitigate risk to the vehicle and spacecraft. ULA facilities have not been directly impacted or damaged by the fire.
More than 1,100 firefighters have battled the blaze, which is now 70% contained. Ventura County Fire Department engineer Ryan Osler, 38, was killed yesterday while en route to the fire.
WorldView-4 was originally scheduled to launch on September 16, but was scrubbed due to a ground leak anomaly experienced during propellant tanking. The launch was rescheduled for Sunday, September 18, but stand-by firefighting crews for the launch were needed to fight the wildfire.
WorldView-4 is the latest in a series of imaging and data satellites built by Lockheed Martin for customers around the world. The satellite is outfitted with a camera so accurate it can discern the make and model of a car, advanced star trackers to ensure precision pointing, and antennas that share the collected information back to Earth.
Once launched, the satellite will more than double DigitalGlobe’s coverage of the world’s highest-resolution 30 cm commercial satellite imagery and increase the rate at which it grows its 16-year library of time-lapse, high-resolution imagery. 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.
DigitalGlobe, headquartered in Westminster, Colorado, is a leading provider of commercial high-resolution earth observation and advanced geospatial solutions that help decision makers better understand our changing planet in order to save lives, resources and time.