GeoEye Inc. (formerly Orbital Imaging Corporation or ORBIMAGE) is a commercial satellite imagery
Satellite imagery
Satellite imagery consists of photographs of Earth or other planets made by means of artificial satellites.- History :The first images from space were taken on sub-orbital flights. The U.S-launched V-2 flight on October 24, 1946 took one image every 1.5 seconds...

 company based in Herndon, Virginia that is the world's largest space imaging corporation.

The company was founded in 1992 as a division of Orbital Sciences Corporation
Orbital Sciences Corporation
Orbital Sciences Corporation is an American company which specializes in the manufacturing and launch of satellites. Its Launch Systems Group is heavily involved with missile defense launch systems...

 in the wake of the 1992 Land Remote Sensing Policy Act which permitted private companies to enter the satellite imaging business. The division was spun off in 1997. It changed its name to GeoEye in 2006 after acquiring Denver, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

-based Space Imaging for $58 million. Space Imaging was founded and controlled by Raytheon
Raytheon Company is a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics. It was previously involved in corporate and special-mission aircraft until early 2007...

 and Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company with worldwide interests. It was formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area....

. Its principal asset was the IKONOS
IKONOS is a commercial earth observation satellite, and was the first to collect publicly available high-resolution imagery at 1- and 4-meter resolution. It offers multispectral and panchromatic imagery. The IKONOS launch was called by John E. Pike “one of the most significant developments in...


Although ORBIMAGE's first chairman was Orbital chairman David W. Thompson, and Orbital at the time owned more than 60 percent of the stock, it no longer has a substantial interest in the new company.

GeoEye provides 253000000 sqkm of satellite map images to Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

 and Yahoo!
Yahoo! Inc. is an American multinational internet corporation headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, United States. The company is perhaps best known for its web portal, search engine , Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Answers, advertising, online mapping ,...

 search engines. Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

 has exclusive online mapping use of the new GeoEye-1
GeoEye-1 is a high-resolution earth observation satellite owned by GeoEye, which was launched in September 2008.-History:On December 1, 2004, General Dynamics C4 Systems announced it had been awarded a contract worth approximately $209 million to build the OrbView-5 satellite...

 satellite. It is a major supplier to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing and distributing geospatial intelligence in support of national security. NGA was formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency ...


GeoEye's headquarters are in Herndon, Virginia
Herndon, Virginia
Herndon is a town in Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area of the United States. The population was 21,655 at the 2000 census, which makes it the largest of three towns in the county.-History:...

. Satellite Operations are conducted in Herndon, Virginia and in Thornton, Colorado
Thornton, Colorado
The city of Thornton is a Home Rule Municipality in Adams and Weld counties in the U.S. state of Colorado and a suburb of the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. Thornton is northeast of the state's capital, Denver. The United States Census Bureau that the city population...

. The location in Saint Louis, Missouri provides additional image processing. There are multiple ground stations located worldwide.

GeoEye's primary competitors are DigitalGlobe
DigitalGlobe, of Longmont, Colorado, USA, is a commercial vendor of space imagery and geospatial content, and operator of civilian remote sensing spacecraft...

 and Spot Image
Spot Image
Spot Image, a public limited company created in 1982 by the French Space Agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales , the IGN, and Space Manufacturers is a subsidiary of EADS Astrium...


Since 2001, its chairman has been former astronaut and Lieutenant General James A. Abrahamson.

In 2011, GeoEye was inducted into the Space Foundation
Space Foundation
The Space Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports the global space industry through information and education programs. It is a resource for the entire space community - industry, national security organizations, civil space agencies, private space companies and the military around the...

's Space Technology Hall of Fame
Space technology hall of fame
The Space Technology Hall of Fame annually honors organizations and individuals that "transform technology originally developed for space exploration into products that help improve the quality of life here on Earth"....

 for its role in advancing commercial Earth-imaging satellites.


GeoEye operates its own fleet of Earth observation satellite
Earth observation satellite
Earth observation satellites are satellites specifically designed to observe Earth from orbit, similar to reconnaissance satellites but intended for non-military uses such as environmental monitoring, meteorology, map making etc....

s, which provide visible and near-infrared images of land and sea at resolutions below 1 m (3.3 ft).


Launched in 1999 by Space Imaging, IKONOS collects 82 cm (32.3 in) panchromatic and 3.2 m (10.5 ft) multispectral data at a rate of over 2000 km² (772.2 sq mi) per minute. IKONOS orbits the Earth every 98 minutes at an altitude of approximately 680 km (422.5 mi). It travels a sun-synchronous orbit
Sun-synchronous orbit
A Sun-synchronous orbit is a geocentric orbit which combines altitude and inclination in such a way that an object on that orbit ascends or descends over any given point of the Earth's surface at the same local mean solar time. The surface illumination angle will be nearly the same every time...

, passing a given longitude at 10:30 AM local time. IKONOS is operated out of Thornton, Colorado. It derived its name from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 term eikōn' for image.


The satellite also called SeaStar was launched in 1997 by ORBIMAGE, OrbView-2 collects color imagery of the Earth's entire land and ocean surfaces on a daily basis. Commercial fishing vessels use OrbView-2 data for detecting oceanographic conditions used to create fishing maps. The satellite also provides broad-area coverage in 2,800 kilometer-wide swaths, which are routinely used in naval operations, environmental monitoring, and global crop assessment applications. OrbView-2 carries NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's SeaWiFS
SeaWiFS stands for Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor. It was the only scientific instrument on GeoEye's OrbView-2 satellite, and was a follow-on experiment to the Coastal Zone Color Scanner on Nimbus 7...

 sensor. OrbView-2 is operated out of Herndon, Virginia. It stopped collecting data on 11 December 2010.


Launched in 2003 by ORBIMAGE, OrbView-3 acquired 1 m (3.3 ft) panchromatic and 4 m (13.1 ft) multispectral imagery in an 8-kilometer-wide swath. The satellite collected up to 210000 km² (81,081.5 sq mi) of imagery each day. It revisited each location on Earth in less than three days with the ability to collect data up to 50 degrees off nadir. Similar to IKONOS, this satellite passes a given longitude at 10:30 AM local time.

On April 23, 2007, GeoEye, Inc. filed a Form 8-K
Form 8-K
Form 8-K is a very broad form used to notify investors of any material event that is important to shareholders or the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. This is one of the most common types of forms filed with the SEC...

 to announce that its OrbView-3 satellite is permanently out of service. Though GeoEye remains in control of the satellite, it no longer produces usable imagery. The spacecraft decayed on March 13, 2011 via a controlled reentry into the broad area Pacific Ocean.


GeoEye-1 (Former name OrbView 5) launched on September 6, 2008 at 11:50:57 a.m. PDT (1850:57 UTC). The satellite separated successfully from its Delta II
Delta II
Delta II was an American space launch system, originally designed and built by McDonnell Douglas. Delta II is part of the Delta rocket family and was in service from 1989 until November 1, 2011...

 launch vehicle at 12:49 p.m. PDT (1949 UTC), 58 minutes and 56 seconds after launch. The satellite provides 41 centimetres (16.1 in) panchromatic
Panchromatic film is a type of black-and-white photographic film that is sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light. A panchromatic film therefore produces a realistic reproduction of a scene as it appears to the human eye. Almost all modern photographic film is panchromatic, but some types are...

 and 1.65 meter multispectral imagery in 15.2km swaths. The spacecraft is intended for a sun-synchronous orbit
Sun-synchronous orbit
A Sun-synchronous orbit is a geocentric orbit which combines altitude and inclination in such a way that an object on that orbit ascends or descends over any given point of the Earth's surface at the same local mean solar time. The surface illumination angle will be nearly the same every time...

 at an altitude of 425 miles (684 km) and an inclination of 98 degrees, with a 10:30 a.m. equator crossing time. GeoEye-1 can image up to 60 degrees off nadir. It is operated out of Herndon, Virginia and was built in Arizona by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.


GeoEye-2 is a planned third generation commercial Earth observation satellite, due to launch in early 2013. The satellite will have a resolution of 25 cm, making it the highest resolution commercial Earth observation satellite in orbit, once it has been launched...

, which has a contract with ITT Corporation
ITT Corporation
ITT Corporation is a global diversified manufacturing company based in the United States. ITT participates in global markets including water and fluids management, defense and security, and motion and flow control...

 for the imaging is scheduled launch in 2011 or 2012 and has a planned resolution of 25 cm (9.8 in) Lockheed Martin has been selected to build the satellite platform over General Dynamics

Aerial imagery

GeoEye expanded into aerial imagery in March 2007, with the purchase of MJ Harden from General Electric Company. MJ Harden, based in Mission, KS, is now a wholly owned subsidiary that operates two aircraft that carry a digital mapping camera (DMC) and a sophisticated LiDAR
LIDAR is an optical remote sensing technology that can measure the distance to, or other properties of a target by illuminating the target with light, often using pulses from a laser...

 imaging system. MJ Harden was founded by Milton J. Harden in 1956 to provide Photogrammetry
Photogrammetry is the practice of determining the geometric properties of objects from photographic images. Photogrammetry is as old as modern photography and can be dated to the mid-nineteenth century....

services. GE Power Systems bought the company in 2003.

External links

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