QuickBird is used by DigitalGlobe to produce commercial high-resolution imagery of Earth. The 10-foot-long orbiter was launched in 2001, has a 128GB hard drive and is fueled for seven years. Most recently it showed dramatic high-resolution photos of the tsunami disaster in Asia (see next page).
XM Satellite Radio has two music boxes in the sky, Rock (XM-1, pictured at right) and Roll (XM-2), built by Boeing and in orbit since 2001. Each transmits up to 100 channels of digital radio to subscribers across the continental United States. XM-3 is scheduled to lift off from Earth in February.
The Hubble Space Telescope, as seen from the space shuttle, is about the size of a school bus and was originally deployed in 1990.
Its future is cloudy, with the White House said to be considering dropping funds from its 2006 budget request for a mission to service Hubble. Its replacement, The Next Generation Space Telescope, may be launched as early as 2008.
A worker puts the finishing touches on Echostar 5.
Echostar 5 and 6 were originally named Sky 1 and 2 for the MCI-News Corp. venture called American Sky Broadcasting. In 1999, they were sold to Echostar with gear, broadcast license and three years of rights to Fox rebroadcasts for $1.25 billion. It's now part of the Dish Network.
The U. S. Air Force's Navstar GPS satellite is designed to instantaneously provide precise, three-dimensional navigation information for military and civilian users under all weather conditions around the world.
To maximize broadband coverage, the Boeing 702 satellite (not pictured) delivers signals to specific geographic regions using "spot beam" technology. That provides a focus on prime service areas rather than spreading it out in a more scattershot pattern.