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Author Topic: Canada’s MDA buys DigitalGlobe, reveals next-generation WorldView satellite flee  (Read 598 times)

Offline Flyaway

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Some details on WorldView Legion.

Tarr did not disclose how many satellites will be launched in the WorldView Legion fleet, but he said the new spacecraft will begin launching in 2020, when the WorldView 1 and 2 satellites will be near retirement.

“MDA is committed to supporting DigitalGlobe’s ability to execute on our future constellation strategy,” Tarr said. “This includes initial investments in 2017 in the long-lead time elements of our next-generation satellite system.”

The WorldView Legion constellation is “much more than just a replacemenet for WorldView 1 and 2,” Tarr said. “We expect this industry-leading multi-satellite system to more than double our high-resolution capacity in regions where it matters most.”

DigitalGlobe has partnered with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology and Taqnia Space to build six small Scout imaging satellites to complement the larger spacecraft in the WorldView fleet, offering faster revisit times to fly over parts of the planet with greater rapidity.

“Together with Scout, we will extend our lead by delivering to customers the ability to image the most rapidly changing regions on Earth up to 40 times per day, combined with the ability to see areas of interest with industry-leading resolution and accuracy,” Tarr said.

DigitalGlobe, whose main customer is the U.S. government, plans to invest up to $600 million in the WorldView Legion program, Tarr said.

MDA’s Space Systems/Loral division, which it acquired in 2012, will build the WorldView Legion satellites in Palo Alto, California. DigitalGlobe’s previous WorldView platforms were manufactured by Ball Aerospace and Lockheed Martin in Colorado and California, respectively.

SSL has branched out from focusing its manufacturing center on large commercial telecommunications satellites to smaller Earth-imaging and scientific missions.

One of DigitalGlobe’s competitors, Terra Bella, has tapped SSL to build 19 small SkySat Earth observation satellites, which offer lower-resolution imaging than the WorldView craft, but are spread out in Earth orbit to fly over the same place more often.

Under the terms of the satellite contract, Terra Bella transferred SSL rights to part of its design, allowing SSL to apply the technology and know-how to other small satellite programs.

Planet, another player in the Earth observation market, bought Terra Bella from Google earlier this month. Planet owns more than 100 CubeSats, with a goal of imaging the entire planet every day.

Some of SSL’s new small satellite expertise could now find its way into WorldView Legion.

“One of the important aspects of this combination is access to SSL’s very advanced manfuacturing capability and technology, and we believe that will contribute to reducing the capital intensity of the business,” Tarr said, implying DigitalGlobe’s future satellites will cost less to produce than earlier generations.