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GeoEye Inc.
Founded 1992 Orbital Imaging Corporation
2006 GeoEye
Founder(s) Orbital Sciences Corporation
Defunct January 2013, merged with DigitalGlobe
Headquarters Herndon, Virginia, United States
Key people James Alan Abrahamson (chairman), Matthew O'Connell, (CEO)[1]
Revenue US$183.76 million (2007)[2]
Operating income US$80.33 million (2007)[2]
Net income US$42.39 million (2007)[2]
Total assets US$789.95 million (2007)[2]
Total equity US$216.92 million (2007)[2]
Employees 410 (2008)[2]

GeoEye Inc. (formerly Orbital Imaging Corporation or ORBIMAGE) was an American commercial satellite imagery company based in Herndon, Virginia.[3] GeoEye was merged into the DigitalGlobe corporation January 29th, 2013.[4]

The company was founded in 1992 as a division of Orbital Sciences Corporation 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-based Space Imaging for $58 million.[5] Space Imaging was founded and controlled by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. Its principal asset was the IKONOS satellite.

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 company or its successor.[6]

GeoEye provided 253,000,000 square kilometres (98,000,000 sq mi) of satellite map images to Microsoft and Yahoo! search engines. In 2008 Google secured exclusive online mapping use of the GeoEye-1 satellite.[7] GeoEye maintained major contracts with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency for the provision of reconnaissance and imagery data.

In the early twenty-first century GeoEye was headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. Satellite Operations were conducted from Herndon, Virginia and Thornton, Colorado. The location in Saint Louis, Missouri provided additional image processing. Multiple ground stations were located worldwide.

In 2011, GeoEye was inducted into the Space Foundation's Space Technology Hall of Fame[8] for its role in advancing commercial Earth-imaging satellites.[9]


GeoEye operated a fleet of Earth observation satellites, producing visible and near-infrared images of land and sea at resolutions below 1 m (3.3 ft).


Main article: IKONOS

Launched in 1999 by Space Imaging, IKONOS collects 82 cm (32 in) panchromatic and 3.2 m (10 ft) multispectral data at a rate of over 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi) per minute. IKONOS orbits the Earth every 98 minutes at an altitude of approximately 681 km (423 mi). It travels a sun-synchronous orbit, passing a given longitude at 10:30 AM local time. IKONOS is operated out of Thornton, Colorado. It derived its name from the Greek term eikōn' (pronounced eikona) for image.[10]


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's SeaWiFS sensor. OrbView-2 was operated out of Dulles, Virginia, but operations ceased shortly before GeoEye's HQ relocation to Herndon, Virginia in 2011.[11] It stopped collecting data on 11 December 2010.[12]


Launched in 2003 by ORBIMAGE, OrbView-3 acquired 1 m (3.3 ft) panchromatic and 4 m (13 ft) multispectral imagery in an 8-kilometer-wide swath. The satellite collected up to 210,000 km2 (81,000 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 to announce that its OrbView-3 satellite is permanently out of service. Though GeoEye remained in control of the satellite, it no longer produced usable imagery.[13][14] The spacecraft decayed on March 13, 2011 via a controlled reentry into the broad area Pacific Ocean.


Main article: GeoEye-1

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 launch vehicle at 12:49 p.m. PDT (1949 UTC), 58 minutes and 56 seconds after launch.[15] The satellite provides 41 centimetres (16 in) panchromatic and 1.65 meter multispectral imagery in 15.2 km swaths. The spacecraft is intended for a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 681 km (423 mi) 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.


Main article: GeoEye-2

The GeoEye-2 satellite has a planned resolution of 34 cm (13 in). ITT Corporation is the contractor responsible for its imaging payload[7] Lockheed Martin was selected to build the satellite platform over General Dynamics.[16]

As of February 2013 and following the merger of GeoEye and DigitalGlobe, DigitalGlobe announced GeoEye-2 will be completed as a ground spare to be launched if or when required.[17]

Aerial imagery

GeoEye expanded into aerial imagery in March 2007, with the purchase of MJ Harden from General Electric Company.[18] 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 imaging system. MJ Harden was founded by Milton J. Harden in 1956 to provide Photogrammetry services.[19] GE Power Systems bought the company in 2003.[20]

Regional affiliates


External links

  • GeoFUSE Archive Search and Discovery Tools - Search for GeoEye satellite imagery online
  • GeoEye Image Gallery
  • GeoEye Foundation
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