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Worldview-4 satellite to launch from Vandenberg

The Worldview-4 satellite is mated to an Atlas V rocket inside the mobile service tower at Space Launch Complex-3, Sep. 7th, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Accompanied by seven Cubesatellites, the Worldview-4 payload is an Earth imaging satellite able to capture extremely high resolution, panchromatic pictures and will leave Space Launch Complex-3 on the back of an Atlas V rocket. (Courtesy Photo / United Launch Alliance)

The Worldview-4 satellite is mated to an Atlas V rocket inside the mobile service tower at Space Launch Complex-3, Sep. 7th, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Accompanied by seven Cubesatellites, the Worldview-4 payload is an Earth imaging satellite able to capture extremely high resolution, panchromatic pictures and will leave Space Launch Complex-3 on the back of an Atlas V rocket. (Courtesy Photo / United Launch Alliance)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Vandenberg’s 4th Space Launch Squadron and United Launch Alliance are set to propel the Worldview-4 satellite into a Sun Synchronous orbit, here, Sept. 16.

Accompanied by seven Cubesatellites, the Worldview-4 payload is an Earth imaging satellite able to capture extremely high resolution, panchromatic pictures and will leave Space Launch Complex-3 on the back of an Atlas V rocket.

“Developed by Digital Globe and Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Worldview-4 is designed to capture imagery with a maximum resolution of 31 centimeters and multispectral imagery of 1.24 meters,” said Capt. Jonathan Crow, 4th SLS Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle responsible engineer. “In addition to higher resolution, the new satellite will more than double the daily collection capacity when combined with the Worldview-3, which was launched in 2014.”

Capitalizing on the delay of another launch mission, the commercial satellite is able to hitch a ride on a rocket originally intended for NASA’s InSight mission.

“Members of the 4th SLS have been providing fleet surveillance and mission assurance for this Atlas V 401 rocket since the end of 2015 when flight hardware arrived, just months before the intended launch of NASA’s InSight mission,” said Tech. Sgt. Justin Gress, 4th SLS assistant flight chief. “NASA’s InSight mission, a Martian lander equipped for seismic exploration, was postponed until 2018 due to a spacecraft issue. While the InSight spacecraft returned to the factory in preparation for its future launch, the decision was made to repurpose its rocket to launch the Worldview-4 spacecraft.”

Tasked with successfully bringing the most powerful commercial imagery satellite into orbit, a cohesive working relationship among multiple agencies has been a crucial component while preparing for liftoff.

“It really takes a lot of careful planning and diligent work by all of the techs and engineers to make a launch like this a successful one,” said Crow. “We owe a lot of our success to the great relationships we maintain with United Launch Alliance. They do a great job keeping us in the loop and getting us any data that we need to accomplish our mission assurance objectives. Without those close relationships, it would be much more difficult to provide risk assessments to our leadership so that they can be comfortable before launching.”