Orbital Sciences (OSC) air-launched the OrbView 2 commercial remote-sensing satellite aboard a Pegasus XL booster on 1 August. Images from the satellite will contribute towards a better understanding of the Earth's carbon cycle processes and their effect on global-warming trends.

The 146kg OrbView 2 carries a Hughes Electronics SeaWiFS ocean colour payload for the craft's anchor customer NASA, under a $43 million contract. Multi-spectral images will be available to commercial and scientific customers in mid-September.

The programme is being handled by OSC subsidiary Orbital Imaging (OrbImage), and the MacDonald Dettwiler subsidiary manages the ground segment.

The OrbView programme evolved after the collapse of the international Eyeglass consortium, established in 1994 to provide high-resolution images to the market. The OrbView 1 was launched in 1995 with a payload providing atmospheric-monitoring data, while the OrbView 3 is planned to follow in 1999 to provide 1m-resolution digital images to the commercial market.

Saudi Arabia's EIRAD is a major investor in the OrbView 3. A second generation OrbView is scheduled for launch on the OSC Taurus booster in 2001. OrbImage is completing $75 million financing to support the construction of the three-satellite OrbView system.

Source: Flight International