DigitalGlobe, provider of imagery for Google Incorporated's interactive mapping program Google Earth, plans to launch a new high-resolution satellite, dubbed WorldView I, on Tuesday. Together with the company's existing Quickbird satellite, it will offer half-meter resolution and will be able to collect over 600,000 square kilometers of imagery each day, up from the current collection of that amount each week, according to Chief Executive Jill Smith. Privately held DigitalGlobe is still working toward an initial public offering in the next few years, Smith said.
Smith also noted that WorldView I would allow far faster collection of imagery, and add more quickly to the company's archive containing 300 million square kilometers of satellite and aerial imagery, already the world's largest commercial archive of satellite images. The new satellite will also provide far more accurate data, including the ability to pinpoint objects on the Earth at three to 7.5 meters, or 10 to 25 feet. Using known reference points on the ground, the accuracy would rise to about two meters. DigitalGlobe built the satellite in part with $500 million in funding from the Pentagon's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, but it can sell the images commercially as long as their resolution is no sharper than a half-meter.