Digital Globe



DigitalGlobe was founded in 1993 under the name WorldView Imaging Corporation, became EarthWatch Incorporated in 1995, before finally becoming DigitalGlobe in 2002.

In 1993, the United States Department of Commerce granted DigitalGlobe (then WorldView), the first license allowing a private enterprise to build and operate a satellite system to gather high-resolution digital imagery of the earth for commercial sale.

In January 1994, the company merged with the commercial remote sensing efforts of Ball Aerospace (operating under the name EarthWatch Incorporated). Ball brought significant communications and optics experience in building satellites and was responsible for the design and construction of the QuickBird sub-meter satellites. In addition to Ball Aerospace, DigitalGlobe contracted with Eastman Kodak Company and Fokker Space B.V. for the design, development and fabrication of QuickBird.

On October 18, 2001, DigitalGlobe (then EarthWatch) successfully launched what was then the world’s highest-resolution commercial satellite, QuickBird, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA (two prior launch attempts from Svobodny and Plesetsk, Russia had been unsuccessful). QuickBird is still operational today.

In 2002, EarthWatch became DigitalGlobe, Inc. — a change in name and focus to more accurately reflect the goals of the company to create a virtual digital globe.

Following the successful launch of QuickBird, DigitalGlobe began building an extensive business partner network serving both the government and commercial markets. Of note was the agreement to provide high-resolution imagery to Keyhole Corporation, subsequently acquired by Google in 2004, a key component in the creation and commercial success of Google Earth and beginning the proliferation of online mapping portals.

In September 2003, DigitalGlobe announced it won a $500 million contract issued by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) through its NextView program to assure the availability of imagery from the next generation, commercial high-resolution imaging satellites. DigitalGlobe subsequently announced plans to build two next generation, high-resolution imagery satellites, WorldView-1 and WorldView-2.

On January 4, 2007, DigitalGlobe announced it acquired GlobeXplorer, a leading online imagery provider. DigitalGlobe’s industry leading archive and high-resolution, high-capacity satellite combined with GlobeXplorer’s effective online hosting infrastructure, web services, GIS products and services and developer toolkits to provide needed flexibility and easy access to world imagery.

On September 18, 2007, WorldView-1 successfully launched on a Boeing Delta II 7920 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Shortly after the launch, a DigitalGlobe ground station received a downlink signal confirming that the satellite successfully separated from its launch vehicle and had automatically initialized its onboard processors. Full operating capability (FOC) with NGA began on November 17 and DigitalGlobe became the first company to deliver against the NextView program.

In late 2008 through early 2009, DigitalGlobe announced a number of major agreements expanding the availability of high-resolution imagery to online portal, navigation, LBS and enterprise applications:

  • The first of these was the extension of its service agreement with Google to provide high-resolution satellite imagery for Google Maps and Google Earth. This agreement marked the continuation of Google and DigitalGlobe’s relationship to pioneer wider accessibility of global imagery started back in 2002.
  • A new partnership with Microsoft under which DigitalGlobe would provide high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery for the Virtual Earth Platform.
  • An agreement with Oracle to offer DigitalGlobe satellite imagery to Oracle Database 11g customers.
  • A new relationship with NAVTEQ to better support the thousands of software developers using NAVTEQ map data who want to include high-resolution imagery in their applications. As part of the agreement, DigitalGlobe became a member of the Partner Zone program on the NAVTEQ Network for Developers (NN4D).
  • An agreement with deCarta, and another with Telogis, to team up to deliver world imagery to the LBS marketplace by giving their geospatial platform customers direct online access to DigitalGlobe’s online image library.
  • A new multi-year agreement with Nokia for use of imagery in Nokia Location Services available on compatible Nokia devices and online through Ovi. Using streamlined technology integration and development of a proprietary format for delivering imagery to Nokia, users would have quick, easy and seamless access to a wide range of global imagery from DigitalGlobe.

In early 2009, DigitalGlobe responded to its growth internationally with the opening of a London office and the relocation and expansion of the Singapore office.

On May 14, 2009, DigitalGlobe began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DGI”.

On June 29, 2009, DigitalGlobe announced the extension of its service level agreement (SLA) with NGA through March 31, 2010 for a total of $100 million during the extension period.

On October 8, 2009, WorldView-2 was successfully launched from Vandenberg AFB, bringing the total number of sub-meter satellites DigitalGlobe has in orbit to three and enabling the company to offer a constellation of spacecraft that will provide the highest collection capacity — approximately 500 million sq km per year — of high-resolution earth imagery to customers around the world. Additionally, WorldView-2 is the only commercial high-resolution satellite with eight-band multispectral capability and features advanced agility and accuracy.

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