QuickBird imaging spacecraft
Posted: October 15, 2001

An artist's concept of the QuickBird saatellite deployed in space. Photo: DigitalGlobe
The QuickBird satellite is the first in a constellation of spacecraft that DigitalGlobe is developing that offers highly accurate, commercial high-resolution imagery of Earth. QuickBird's global collection of panchromatic and multispectral imagery is designed to support applications ranging from map publishing to land and asset management to insurance risk assessment.

Today, DigitalGlobe's QuickBird is the only spacecraft able to offer sub-meter resolution imagery, industry-leading geolocational accuracy, large on-board data storage, and an imaging footprint 2 to 10 times larger than any other commercial high-resolution satellite. Moreover, DigitalGlobe is able to populate and update our digitalglobe.com archive at unprecedented speed because QuickBird's system features allow us to efficiently and accurately collect over 75 million square kilometers of imagery data annually.


  • Highest resolution sensors available commercially
    • 61-cm (2-ft) panchromatic at nadir
    • 2.44-m (8-ft) multispectral at nadir
  • Industry-leading image accuracy
    • Stable platform for precise location measurement
    • 3-axis stabilized, star tracker/IRU/reaction wheels, C/A Code GPS
  • Fastest large area collection
    • 16.5-km width imaging swath
    • 128 Gbits on-board image storage capacity
  • High image quality
    • Off-axis unobscured design of QuickBird's telescope
    • Large field-of-regard
    • High contrast (MTF)
    • High signal to noise ratio
    • 11 bit dynamic range
  • Small Instantaneous field of view


  • Acquire high-quality satellite imagery for map creation, change detection, and image analysis
  • Geolocate features to within 23 meters (75.5 feet) and create maps in remote areas without the use of ground control points
  • Collect a greater supply of frequently updated global imagery products more quickly than competitive systems
  • Extend the range of suitable imaging collection targets and enhance image interpretability because images can be acquired at even the lowest light levels without sacrificing image quality
  • Reduced image distortion

Quick Facts

  • Launch Information
    • Date: October 2001
    • Vehicle: Delta II
    • Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
  • Orbit
    • Altitude:450 km - 98 degree, sun-synchronous inclination
    • Revisit frequency: 1 to 3.5 days depending on latitude at 70-centimeter resolution
    • Viewing angle: Agile spacecraft --track and cross-track pointing
    • Period: 93.4 minutes
  • Per Orbit Collection: ~128 gigabits (approximately 57 single area images)
  • Swath Width & Area Size
    • Nominal swath width: 16.5-kilometers at nadir
    • Accessible ground swath: 544 km centered on the satellite ground track
    • Areas of interest:
      • Single Area - 16.5 km x 16.5 km
      • Strip - 16.5 km x 165 km
  • Metric Accuracy: 14.0m RMSE (46.0ft)
  • Sensor Resolution & Spectral Bandwidth
    • Panchromatic:
      • 61-centimeter GSD (Ground Sample Distance)at nadir
      • Black &White:450 to 900 nanometers
    • Multispectral:
      • 2.44-meter GSD at nadir
      • Blue: 450 to 520 nanometers
      • Green: 520 to 600 nanometers
      • Red: 630 to 690 nanometers
      • Near-IR: 760 to 900 nanometers
  • Communications
    • Payload Data: 320 Mbps X-band
    • Housekeeping: X-band from 4,16 and 256 Kbps; 2 Kbps S-band uplink
  • Pointing and Agility
    • Accuracy: <0.5 milliradians absolute per axis
    • Knowledge: <15 microradians per axis
    • Stability: <10 microradians per second
  • Onboard Storage: 128 Gbits capacity
  • Spacecraft
    • 5 year design life
    • 2100 pounds, 3.04-meters (10-ft)in length

Design & Specifications
QuickBird was designed and built by our strategic partners, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Kodak, and Fokker Space, all leaders in their fields. By utilizing proven technology from each supplier, DigitalGlobe has developed a state-of-the-art, satellite system built from pace-qualified components. This system successfully meets DigitalGlobe's demanding performance requirements for high image quality,robust image collection, and long mission life.

Flight Data File
Vehicle: Delta 2 (7320)
Payload: QuickBird
Launch date: Oct. 18, 2001
Launch window: 1851-1906 GMT (2:51-3:06 p.m. EDT)
Launch site: SLC-2W, Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
Satellite broadcast: Galaxy 11, Ku-band, Freq.: 11960 H

Pre-launch briefing
Launch preview - Our story giving a complete report on the upcoming launch.

Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.

Delta 2 rocket - Overview of the Delta 2 7320-model rocket used to launch QuickBird.

SLC-2W - The launch pad where Delta rocket fly from Vandenberg.

Delta directory - See our coverage of preview Delta rocket flights.