WASHINGTON – Satellite operator GeoEye has contracted with Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services of Denver to launch its GeoEye-2 imaging satellite aboard an Atlas 5 rocket, Lockheed Martin announced Sept. 7.

Financial terms of the launch contract were not disclosed.

Dulles, Va.-based GeoEye in March contracted with another division of Lockheed Martin to build GeoEye-2, which is expected to be ready for launch in late 2012 and expected to cost between $750 million and $800 million, including launch and insurance. The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will pay for approximately $337 million of the satellite’s construction under a 10-year, $3.8 billion deal with GeoEye.

The Atlas 5 and Boeing-built Delta 4 were developed under the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program and are used primarily to launch military and intelligence payloads. GeoEye-2 is the only commercial Atlas 5 launch currently on the manifest, Lockheed Martin spokesman Chip Manor said.

The last commercial payload launched on the Atlas 5 was the Intelsat-14 satellite, which lifted off last November and hosts an experimental U.S. military communications payload.

GeoEye-2 will be placed into a sun-synchronous orbit 652 kilometers above Earth and feature ground resolution of 33 centimeters, meaning objects of that size and larger can be discerned. GeoEye currently operates the GeoEye-1, Ikonos and Orbview-2 satellites.