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Atlas 5 launch for Worldview-4
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket rises from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, sending the WorldView-4 satellite and seven CubeSats into space. (Credit: ULA)

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 satellite was sent into orbit today to capture high-resolution, multispectral imagery of Earth, almost two months after California’s wildfires forced a launch delay.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:30 a.m. PT to send the RV-sized satellite into space. About 45 minutes later, DigitalGlobe received signals from the spacecraft confirming that it was in good health in its intended near-sun-synchronous orbit.

Like WorldView-3, which went into orbit in 2014, WorldView-4 can provide black-and-white imagery of Earth’s surface with one-foot resolution, and multispectral views to a resolution of 4 feet per pixel. The visible-light pictures feed into the mapping services provided by the likes of Google, while the multispectral views can be used to monitor crop growth and urban planning.

An artist's conception shows WorldView-4 and the other satellites in DigitalGlobe's Earth-imaging constellation. (Credit: DigitalGlobe)
An artist’s conception shows WorldView-4 and the other satellites in DigitalGlobe’s Earth-imaging constellation. (Credit: DigitalGlobe)

WorldView-3 and WorldView-4 are the most advanced satellites in DigitalGlobe’s constellation, which also includes earlier WorldView models and GeoEye-1.

Today’s launch was originally scheduled for Sept. 16 but had to be called off when wildfires approached the pad. It took weeks to put out the blaze, repair the damage to Vandenberg’s launch facility and confirm that the rocket and the satellite were in good shape.

The Atlas 5’s Centaur upper stage also deployed seven experimental CubeSats for the National Reconnaissance Office. The unclassified satellites, known collectively as the Enterprise mission, demonstrated technologies ranging from electric propulsion to low-cost communication systems and climate research tools.

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