US – Last fall, GeoEye announced it had contracted with ITT to begin the phased development of the camera for GeoEye-2, slated for launch in the 2011 timeframe. Currently, GeoEye and ITT are working on the sensor electronics and other elements of the camera’s telescope, including the primary mirror. The company has also procured additional long-lead focal plane electronic components from ITT which will be integrated into the next higher level of assembly for the sensor system.
Bill Schuster, GeoEye’s chief operating officer said, “By beginning work on the advanced camera and electronics early, we will keep to a schedule so we are able to launch GeoEye-2 in the 2011-2012 timeframe. With the delivery of the glass to ITT, we are demonstrating that GeoEye can be counted on in the long run to be a provider of map accurate satellite imagery as we move to select a satellite builder later this year.”
GeoEye-2’s glass blank mirror was completed and delivered to ITT last month. The company’s Rochester, N.Y.-based Space Systems Division will begin grinding and polishing the mirror that measures 1.1 meter in diameter later this summer. The satellite will be of the same general class as GeoEye-1 but will benefit from significant improvements in capability, including enhanced direct tasking, and the potential to collect imagery of the Earth’s surface at 0.25-meter or 9.75-inch ground resolution.
Rob Mitrevski, vice president and director of Commercial and Space Science Systems, ITT Space Systems, said, “The telescope and camera assembly for GeoEye-2 will benefit from decades of expertise ITT has amassed on behalf of the U.S. Government and other commercial customers. Once operational, the satellite’s imaging system will provide a resolution and accuracy never achieved before in commercial remote sensing.”
GeoEye believes the market will be ready for another sensor to serve the growing geospatial or location-based market in the U.S. and overseas in the 2011-2012 timeframe. While GeoEye has an operating license from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to build and launch a satellite constellation with this extremely high ground resolution of a quarter meter, the final decision regarding GeoEye-2’s resolution has not yet been made. If the satellite is built to achieve this high resolution, under current licensing constraints, only the U.S.
Government would be allowed access to imagery at this highest resolution. All other customers would receive imagery at the highest resolution allowed by U.S. regulations, currently 0.5-meter or 19.5-inch ground resolution. In addition, GeoEye’s agreements with foreign customers involving large volumes of imagery generally require approval from NOAA.