Dulles, Virginia, USA, 14 December 2007 – GeoEye announced that it has secured insurance in the amount of $20 million on its IKONOS satellite for 2008 with terms comparable to those it had for 2007. This was facilitated by a new analysis, performed by Lockheed Martin Corporation, on the life expectancy of its IKONOS high-resolution Earth-imaging satellite. The company now estimates IKONOS may continue to meet mission requirements into the next decade.
The satellite was built and launched into a low Earth orbit by Lockheed Martin in 1999. At the time of launch it was estimated that the satellite would be operational for a period of five to seven years. Later, based on operational data, it was estimated that IKONOS would remain operational until the mid-2008 timeframe. However, this new study resulted in an estimated life expectancy into the 2010 timeframe.
Bill Schuster, chief operating officer said, “IKONOS continues to perform almost flawlessly in terms of quantity and quality of imagery that it collects. Earlier analyses on life expectancy were conservative and used a number of simplifying assumptions. We asked Lockheed Martin to conduct another study. Previous ones indicated that space-based radiation posed the most immediate threat, so this new analysis was focused on what impact radiation has had on IKONOS’ components. The results show that radiation is no longer a near-term life-limiting factor.”
While other unknown factors could cause IKONOS to cease functioning, there is enough fuel on board to last an additional eight years and the satellite’s batteries are performing well.
The review was undertaken by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (LMCSS) Specialty Engineering Organization (Newtown, Pa.) and completed in mid-November 2007. Dr. Roman Herschitz, Justin Likar and Audrey Esteban, all engineers at the Specialty Engineering Organization, performed this latest analysis.
Likar, a space radiation engineer, said, “The high fidelity analyses performed by LMCSS were conducted using proven analytical tools and eight years of on-orbit data. Analyses showed that the on-orbit ionizing radiation environment is comparatively less than anticipated. As a result — and barring other life limiting effects — the satellite should not anticipate any ionizing radiation induced degradation affecting operations or imaging performance into the next decade.”
Willis Inspace was the insurance broker.