April 28, 1999
Photography Satellite Disappears After
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES --
A civilian satellite that can take highly detailed photographs disappeared
shortly after liftoff Tuesday.
An Athena 2 rocket carrying the Ikonos 1 satellite took off from a launching
pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 11:22 A.M., bound for an orbit 400 miles
Communications with the spacecraft ended about eight minutes after liftoff,
as planned, but it failed to re-establish contact as expected later in the
Officials could not say whether it remained in orbit but said that Federal
agencies that tracked orbiting objects should be able to answer the
question in a few days.
The satellite is the second such American commercial satellite to fail right
after launching, though officials of the company that commissioned it.
Space Imaging, a privately held Denver company that was going to operate the
satellite, held out a slim hope that communications might be established
with the craft.
The satellite was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems. The
Raytheon Company built the communications, image processing and other
elements of the system. Eastman Kodak built the digital camera system.
John Copple, chief executive officer of Space Imaging, would not release its
cost, but said it was insured.
Space Imaging has already built a spare satellite.
The camera of Ikonos 1, whose namemeans image in Greek, is able to capture
objects of about 10 square feet. That means the satellite would be able to
distinguish between a car and truck, officials at Space Imaging said.
Until now, only military satellites have been able to photograph Earth in
Some experts said they worried that images from Ikonos 1 could be used by
terrorists or foreign governments to plan attacks or spot troop mobilizations.
The Federal Government approved the satellite in 1994. Space Imaging said it
expected its clients to use the images for urban planning, oil and gas
exploration, mapping, monitoring natural disasters, the environment and
farmland and planning communication networks.
John Pike, an authority on space reconnaissance with the private Federation
of American Scientists in Washington, pointed out that the Government would
not allow images of some places to be sold.
Posted 4/29/99 10:17:03 AM