FAS | Intelligence | IMINT Gallery |||| Index | Search |

FAS Project on Intelligence Reform

IKONOS Imagery


From Space Imaging Corp.

First IKONOS Image -Taken of Washington D.C. Very large image 4.5 megabytes

Reagan National Airport

Proposed WWII Memorial

Shadows of Tourists on the Mall

US Navy Vessels Docked in San Fransisco


Beijing, China 4-Meter Multispectral

Cairo, Egypt 4-Meter Multispectral

Manhattan, New York, 1-Meter Pan

Rome, Italy, 1-Meter Pan

Sanaa, Yemen 1-Meter Pan

Sapporo, Japan 4-Meter Multispectral

Taipei, Taiwan, 1-Meter Pan

Tokyo, Japan 1-Meter Pan




Launch Date

September 24, 1999 (11:21:08 am PDT)
Launch Vehicle Athena II
Launch Vehicle Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
Launch Location Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Ground resolution of each band:
1-meter panchromatic
(nominal at <26deg off nadir)

4-meter multispectral
(nominal at <26deg off nadir)

The ground processing software has the capability to rapidly process and mosaic imagery so as to create seamless image products with a consistent pixel ground sample distance (GSD)

Imagery Spectral Response

0.45 - 0.90 microns

#1: Blue 0.45 - 0.52
#2: Green 0.52 – 0.60
#3: Red 0.63 - 0.69
#4: Near IR 0.76 - 0.90 (same as Landsat 4&5 TM Bands #1-4)

Spectral Bands
Swath Widths
& Scene Sizes

Nominal swath width:
13 km at nadir

Areas of interest:
a nominal single image at 13 km x 13 km

  • strips of 11km x 100 km up to 11 km x 1000 km
  • image mosaics of up to 12,000 sq. km.
  • up to two 10,000 square kilometer contiguous areas in a single pass within a region
Metric Accuracy

12-meter horizontal and 10-meter vertical accuracy with no ground control

2-meter horizontal and 3-meter vertical accuracy with ground control

These are specified as 90% CE (circular error) for the horizontal and 90% LE (linear error) for the vertical

Orbital Information


423 miles / 681 kilometers


98.1 degrees


4 miles per second / 7 kilometers per second

Descending nodal crossing time

10:30 a.m.

Revisit frequency

2.9 days at 1-meter resolution;
1.5 days at 1.5-meter resolution
These values are for targets at 40 degrees latitude. The revisit times will be more frequent for higher latitudes and less frequent for latitudes closer to the equator.

Orbit time

98 minutes

Orbit type


Viewing angle

Agile spacecraft - in-track and cross-track pointing
Weight 1600 pounds

Chronology of Ikonos Launch Events

October 12, 1999

Space Imaging released the world’s first high-resolution commercial satellite image of the Earth. The one-meter resolution black-and-white image of Washington, D.C., collected by Space Imaging’s IKONOS satellite, has unprecedented clarity and detail for commercial space imagery. The image showcases part of the Mall area in the heart of Washington D.C., and is downloadable from the Space Imaging Web site.

The IKONOS satellite orbits the Earth in a sun-synchronous orbit - meaning it simply follows the sun as it travels around the globe - and its Eastman Kodak-built camera is an optical imaging device. The near-perfect optical sharpness of Kodak’s telescope has never been achieved in any commercial space camera. The satellite circles the globe 14 times per day, or once every 98 minutes. The imagery is stored in Space Imaging’s digital CARTERRA™ archive and can be made available to customers very quickly - in as little as a few hours or days.

September 29, 1999 Since the successful launch of IKONOS Friday, September 24, 1999, the launch team has been making good progress on the checkout plan. The satellite is performing as expected and the ground systems are functioning well. Although we have a long way to go, we are encouraged by the progress we are making and should be able to meet our 90-day check out and acceptance plan.
2:35 MDT (2035 GMT) September 24, 1999 Space Imaging and Lockheed Martin declare the launch of the Athena 2 and IKONOS successful. All launch events occurred as planned resulting in the placement of the IKONOS satellite into an extremely accurate orbit. Listen to the post-launch news conference.
1:47 p.m. MDT (1947 GMT) September 24, 1999 The Alaska ground station acquired a signal from the IKONOS spacecraft confirming that the craft is in a nominal orbit, the solar panels have opened and that the spacecraft is healthy.
1:34 pm MDT (1934 GMT) September 24, 1999 IKONOS acquired through the tracking station in Kiruna, Sweden
1:25 pm MDT (1925 GMT) September 24, 1999 SPACECRAFT SEPARATION: IKONOS released from the Athena rocket
12:50 pm MDT (1850 GMT) September 24, 1999 Athena rocket acquired through the McMurdo Antarctica tracking station confirming rocket is in orbit.
12:21:08:65 pm MDT (1821:08:65 GMT) September 24, 1999 LIFTOFF of Athena 2 and IKONOS.


  • Space Imaging Corporation
  • Space.com
  • CBS News.com

    FAS | Intelligence | IMINT Gallery |||| Index | Search |

    Created by John Pike
    Maintained by Steven Aftergood

    Updated Wednesday, October 6, 1999 5:45p.m.