WorldView-4, DigitalGlobe’s newest satellite, enters service

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WASHINGTON — DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 high-resolution-imaging satellite entered service this week, following nearly three months of in-orbit testing and calibration.

DigitalGlobe announced Feb. 3 that WordView-4 had begun serving its first so-called direct-access customer. These customers, usually governments, sign long-term contracts with DigitalGlobe in exchange for guaranteed access to the company’s satellites when they are passing over specified territories.

WorldView-4, like the WorldView-3 satellite that launched in 2014, was built to collect 30-centimeter-resolution imagery. That’s sharp enough to distinguish between cars, trucks and vans and read street markings.

DigitalGlobe said WorldView-4 “more than doubles” the company’s capacity to collect 30-centimeter imagery — good news for customers who’ve been boxed out by the U.S. government’s large, standing order for DigitalGlobe’s highest-resolution imagery.

Some of these customers will continue to wait for WorldView-4 imagery. DigitalGlobe doesn’t expect WorldView-4 tasking and archive orders to be made available to all customer until the second half of this year.

WorldView-4 was built by Lockheed Martin and launched in November from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, aboard an Atlas 5 rocket.