QuickBird was a high-resolution commercial earth observation satellite, owned by DigitalGlobe launched in 2001 and [3] decayed in 2015.[4] It was the first satellite in a constellation of three scheduled to be in orbit by 2008. QuickBird used Ball Aerospace's Global Imaging System 2000 (BGIS 2000).[1] The satellite collected panchromatic (black and white) imagery at 61 centimeter resolution and multispectral imagery at 2.44- (at 450 km) to 1.63-meter (at 300 km) resolution, as orbit altitude is lowered during the end of mission life.[5]

At this resolution, detail such as buildings and other infrastructure are easily visible. However, this resolution is insufficient for working with smaller objects such as a license plate on a car. The imagery can be imported into remote sensing image processing software, as well as into GIS packages for analysis.

Contractors include Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Kodak and Fokker Space.

QuickBird I

The first QuickBird was launched in November 2000, by EarthWatch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. QB-1 failed to reach planned orbit and was declared a failure.[6] Prior to QuickBird I and II, DigitalGlobe launched the EarlyBird 1 successfully in 1997 but the satellite lost communications after only four days in orbit due to power system failure.[2]

QuickBird II

QuickBird II (also QuickBird-2 or Quickbird 2), was launched October 18, 2001 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket.[2] The satellite was initially expected to collect at 1 meter resolution but after a license was granted in 2000 by the Department of Commerce/NASA, DigitalGlobe was able launch the QuickBird II with 0.61 meter panchromatic and 2.4 meter multispectral (previously planned 4 meter) resolution.[2]

Mission Extension

In April 2011, the Quickbird satellite was raised from an orbit of 450 km to 482 km.[7] The process, started in March 2011, extended the satellite's life. Before the operation the useful life of Quickbird was expected to drop off around mid-2012 but after the successful mission, the new orbit prolonged the satellite life into early 2015.


The last picture was acquired on December 17, 2014. On January 27, 2015 QuickBird re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.



  • 60 cm (24 in) (1.37 μrad) panchromatic at nadir
  • 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in) (5.47 μrad) multispectral at nadir
    • MS Channels: blue (450-520 nm), green (520-600 nm), red (630-690 nm), near-IR (760-890 nm)[8]

Swath width and area size

  • Nominal swath width: 18 km at nadir
  • Accessible ground swath: 544 km centered on the satellite ground track (to 30° off nadir)
  • Area of interest
    • Single area: 18 km by 18 km
    • Strip: 18 km by 360 km


  • Altitude (original): 450 km – 97.2 degree sun synchronous circular orbit[2]
  • Altitude (post-orbit modification): 482 km – 98 degree sun synchronous inclination
  • Revisit frequency: 1 to 3.5 days depending on latitude at 60 cm resolution[8]
  • Viewing angle: Agile spacecraft, in-track and cross-track pointing[8]
  • Period 94.2 minutes

On-board storage

  • 128 Gigabit capacity (approximately 57 single area images)


  • Fueled for 7 years
  • 2100 lb (950 kg), 3.04 m (10 ft) in length


See also


  1. ^ a b Ball Aerospace: QuickBird
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "QuickBird-2". EOPortal.org. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Digitalglobe: QuickBird Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "DigitalGlobe Data Sheet: Quickbird" (PDF). DigitalGlobe.com. DigitalGlobe. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  6. ^ DigitalGlode History - QuickBird I Archived September 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "DigitalGlobe Completes Quickbird Satellite Orbit Raise". DigitalGlobe News Room. April 18, 2011. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c "QuickBird 2 was successfully launched on 18 Oct 2001". Center for Remote Imaging, Sensing & Processing. 2001. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Mehuron, Tamar A., Assoc. Editor (August 2008). "2008 USAF Space Almanac - Major Civilian Satellites in Military Use" (PDF). Air Force Magazine. Vol. 91 no. 8. Pub: Air Force Association. pp. 49–50. 

External links