WorldView-4 captured this image of Brasilia on Jan. 11, 2017. Credit: DigitalGlobe

SAN FRANCISCO — DigitalGlobe’s selection of Raytheon Space Systems to manufacture high-resolution imagers for the WorldView Legion constellation shows Raytheon is making headway in its effort to use expertise honed through decades of government work to attract commercial customers.

‘We’re leveraging 45 years of extensive global experience in space imaging to provide DigitalGlobe with an unmatched view of the world from space,” Rick Yuse, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems president, said in a statement.

Prior to the WorldView Legion contract announced Oct. 10, Raytheon Space Systems worked exclusively under government contracts. In recent years, however, the firm has identified promising commercial activities to pursue as it seeks to diversify its business and gain a foothold in the burgeoning commercial Earth imagery business.

Under the DigitalGlobe contract, Raytheon will build telescopes, detectors and associated electronics, which it will deliver to Space Systems Loral, the WorldView Legion satellite integrator. SSL’s parent company, Maxar Technologies Ltd., formerly known as MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., completed its merger with DigitalGlobe Oct. 5.

“DigitalGlobe is proud to select Raytheon to develop the imaging payloads for our next-generation WorldView Legion satellite constellation,” Walter Scott, DigitalGlobe founder, CTO and executive vice president, said in a statement. “We have exceptional confidence in the quality, performance and value of Raytheon’s instrument design, which will give our customers even greater insight into global events of significance and allow them to make critical decisions with confidence for many years to come.”

With the new Raytheon imagers, WorldView Legion satellites will capture twice as much multispectral imagery with 50-centimeter resolution and panchromatic imagery with 30-centimeter resolution as DigitalGlobe currently obtains with its WorldView 3 and WorldView 4 satellites. In addition, DigitalGlobe will use the new Raytheon imagers to observe specific areas on the ground three to four times as often as it can with WorldView 3 and WorldView 4, according to the statement.

DigitalGlobe spokesman Turner Brinton declined to comment on the value of the contract.

DigitalGlobe plans to begin launching an undisclosed number of WorldView Legion satellites in 2020. Once WorldView Legion is operating alongside DigitalGlobe’s existing WorldView satellites and its future Scout small satellite constellation, DigitalGlobe “will be able to image the most rapidly changing areas on

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...