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Boeing Delta II 7920 rocket

Many of the things that have become commonplace in our day-to-day lives rely on technology most people don't see every day.

Satellite phones and TV, GPS systems, and Web maps all depend on satellites orbiting Earth to do their thing. Here's how one such satellite was prepared for its off-planet post.

On October 8, a company called DigitalGlobe launched its latest high-resolution, remote-sensing satellite, WorldView-2. The satellite launched on a Boeing Delta II 7920 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The satellite's high-resolution imagery will be used for both government and commercial projects, including the space race of sorts that's forming between Microsoft and Google as the two companies try to best each other with their online mapping capabilities. Nokia and Bing logos were visible on the rocket at launch.

At the GeoInt 2009 Symposium earlier this week, DigitalGlobe released the satellite's first images.

Photo by: DigitalGlobe


Here, WorldView2 is being placed in a shipping container for transportation to Vandenberg, where it was launched on October 8.
Photo by: DigitalGlobe


WorldView-2 being unloaded after arriving at Vandenberg Air Force base in California on August 21.
Photo by: DigitalGlobe

8 multispectral bands

While most commercial satellites operate with four-band multispectral capabilities, WorldView-2 is the only high-resolution satellite with eight multispectral bands. The additional bands (coastal blue, yellow, red edge, and near IR2) heighten the level of detail and analysis derived from each image pixel.

The detail from these images will be so great that governments will be able to make distinctions between cotton-based camouflages and natural ground covers, and discern the health, age, type, and species of vegetation.

Photo by: DigitalGlobe

WorldView-2 inside a clean room

WorldView-2 inside a clean room at Vandenberg Air Force Base on August 27.

Faster image availability and large-scale coverage will be a few of WorldView-2's improved capabilities. The satellite will see more of the world more often with a constellation intraday revisit capability and an individual collection capability of 975,000 square kilometers per day, a rate never seen before in the high-resolution commercial satellite market, according to DigitalGlobe.

Photo by: DigitalGlobe

Solar arrays

WorldView-2, with its solar arrays now attached, in a clean room at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Photo by: DigitalGlobe

Enhanced views

The craft is 14 feet tall x 8 feet across (23 feet across with its solar arrays deployed) and weighs 6,200 pounds. The satellite will snap its high-resolution images from 500 miles above the earth.
Photo by: DigitalGlobe


All wrapped up and ready to go, the satellite is moved to the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base before liftoff.
Photo by: DigitalGlobe

Control moment gyroscopes

WorldView-1 and its predecessor WorldView-2 are the first commercial satellites to have control moment gyroscopes (CMGs). This technology provides acceleration up to 10 times that of other attitude control actuators and improves maneuvering and targeting ability. With the CMGs, the time required to reposition is reduced from more than 60 seconds to only 9 seconds. This means WorldView-2 will be able to rapidly swing precisely from one target to another, allowing extensive imaging of many targets in a single orbital pass.
Photo by: DigitalGlobe


WorldView-2 being maneuvered into position on September 22 at Vanderberg Air Force Base.
Photo by: DigitalGlobe

Preparing for launch

WorldView-2 being maneuvered into position on September 22.
Photo by: DigitalGlobe


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