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

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.

Brian Berger is editor in chief of and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...