Delta II launches with WorldView1 imaging satellite

by Chris Bergin

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II vehicle has launched with the next-generation commercial imaging satellite, WorldView1, from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch was on time at 2:35pm Eastern.

Spacecraft separation occurred over an hour later, marking a successful conclusion to the launch stage of its mission. A free video of the launch is available on the links below (read more).


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‘This is an incredible achievement by the Delta launch team and we are extremely proud of our record of providing reliable, cost effective assured access to space for our customers,’ said Michael Gass, ULA president and chief executive officer.

‘It is a fitting tribute to our men and women in uniform this launch occurred on the US Air Force’s 60th anniversary. ULA is proud to work with the Air Force and we honor their sacrifices in service of our nation.’

‘Today’s launch of WorldView-1 marks our second successful commercial launch for Boeing Launch Services in 2007 and puts us on track for a very successful year with two of our three scheduled launches completed,’ said Ken Heinly, vice president of Boeing Launch Services.

“The successful launch of WorldView-1 represents the hard work of hundreds of DigitalGlobe employees, Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation, ITT Corporation and dozens of partner organizations,” said Jill Smith, chief executive officer of DigitalGlobe.

“The addition of WorldView-1 to our growing constellation of satellites is a testament of our commitment to our customers. We look forward to supplying the growing market with an unprecedented offering of high-resolution geospatial products.”

Mission background:

The 126 foot high two stage ULA Delta II 7920-10 configuration vehicle featured a first stage booster powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine and nine Alliant Techsystems (ATK) strap-on solid rocket motors. An Aerojet AJ10-118K engine powered the second stage. The payload was encased by a 10-foot-diameter payload fairing.

The vehicle launched from its Space Launch Complex-2 West launch pad at the Californian Air Force Base. The launch window was 14 minutes in length.

The vehicle launched the WorldView1 spacecraft into a Sun-synchronous circular orbit – at an altitude of 450 km (nominal), inclination = 97.2 degrees. The equator crossing time is at 10:30 hours on a descending node. The period is 93 minutes.

WorldView-1 is the first of two new next-generation satellites DigitalGlobe, a leader in the global commercial Earth imagery and geospatial information market, plans to launch. Boeing Launch Services has been contracted to provide the end-to-end launch services for DigitalGlobe.

WorldView-1 will be the world’s only half-meter resolution commercial imaging satellite and will provide still higher resolution imaging capability than the QuickBird satellite, currently the world’s highest resolution commercial Earth imaging satellite in operation.

BATC (Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation) of Boulder, Colorado, is the prime contractor and integrator of the spacecraft, providing the S/C bus (Ball Commercial Platform BCP-5000) and a WorldView-60 camera.

‘Ball Aerospace and DigitalGlobe have worked side-by-side on commercial remote sensing satellites for more than a decade to create one of the most capable systems in orbit,’ said David L. Taylor, president and CEO of Ball Aerospace.

‘The next generation WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 satellites will capture more imagery than ever before due to the flexibility afforded by the Control Moment Gyro-based system designed by Ball Aerospace.’

A new feature of the WorldView spacecraft are CMG (Control Moment Gyroscopes) actuators for precise and highly responsive pointing control. The BCP-5000 bus provides increased power, stability, agility, data storage and transmission (over the BCP-2000 bus) as the demand for Earth remote-sensing information becomes more comprehensive.

That state-of-the-art geo-location accuracy capability will exhibit stunning agility with rapid targeting and efficient in-track stereo collection. The satellite’s orbit of 450 kilometers will enable it to revisit collection areas more frequently, allowing customers to repeat their image acquisitions daily.

‘ITT’s (ITT Corporation) digital imaging sensor for WorldView-1 boast half-meter resolution with three-meter geo-location, using less space, weight and power than any previously launched system,’ added Frank Koester, vice president and director, Commercial and Space Sciences Programs, ITT Space Systems Division, based in Rochester, New York.

‘ITT looks forward to the successful test and launch of WorldView-1, followed by further success providing the sensor system for DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2.’

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