Feds authorize DigitalGlobe to sell sharper images commercially

LONGMONT – DigitalGlobe Inc. on Wednesday announced that the government has relaxed restrictions on the resolution of satellite imagery it is allowed to sell commercially, freeing up the company to utilize the full capabilities of its satellite constellation.

The new rules permit Longmont-based DigitalGlobe (NYSE: DGI) to sell imagery to customers at 25-centimeter resolution. Previously that threshold had been set at 50 centimeters for national security reasons.

Two of DigitalGlobe’s satellites, the GeoEye-1 and WorldView-2 are already capable of resolution better than 50 centimeters. Its WorldView-3 satellite, built by Boulder-based Ball Aerospace and slated for an August launch, will provide resolution of 31 centimeters. Its under-construction GeoEye-2 satellite will capture similarly sharp images.

DigitalGlobe’s stock price, which dropped sharply in March and April, closed at $31.57 Wednesday, up more than 3 percent from the previous day after rising to as high as $32.52 in morning trading.

DigitalGlobe officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

“Our customers will immediately realize the benefits of this updated regulation, as for the first time, we will be able to make our very best imagery available to the commercial market,” DigitalGlobe chief executive Jeffrey Tarr said in a statement. “As a result of this policy update and the forthcoming addition of WorldView-3 to our constellation, DigitalGlobe will further differentiate itself from foreign competition and expand our addressable market.”

DigitalGlobe also announced Wednesday that it will shift WorldView-1 into a different orbit, allowing DigitalGlobe’s constellation of satellites to optimally monitor changes on Earth at various times of day.

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