IKONOS is a commercial earth observation satellite, and was the first to collect publicly available high-resolution imagery at 1- and 4-meter resolution. It offers multispectral (MS) and panchromatic (PAN) imagery. The IKONOS launch was called by John E. Pike “one of the most significant developments in the history of the space age”. IKONOS imagery began being sold on January 1, 2000 and its name is derived from the Greek term eikōn for image.
IKONOS was originated under the Lockheed Martin Corporation as the Commercial Remote Sensing System (CRSS) satellite. On April 1994 Lockheed was granted one of the first licenses from the U.S. Department of Commerce for commercial satellite high-resolution imagery. On October 25, 1995 partner company Space Imaging received a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to transmit telemetry from the satellite in the eight-gigahertz Earth Exploration Satellite Services band. Prior to launch, Space Imaging changed the name of the satellite to IKONOS.
Two satellites were originally planned for operation. The launch of IKONOS-1 in 1999 failed when the payload fairing of the Athena rocket failed to separate, preventing the satellite from reaching orbit. IKONOS-2 was planned for launch in 2000, but was renamed IKONOS and was launched on September 24, 1999 from Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The imaging sensors are panchromatic and multispectral. This satellite has a polar, circular, sun-synchronous 681-km orbit and both sensors have a swath width of 11 km. Its weight is 1600 pounds (720 kg).
In November 2000 Lockheed Martin received the "Best of What's New" Grand Award in the Aviation & Space category from Popular Science magazine. Space Imaging was acquired by ORBIMAGE in September 2005. The company was later renamed to GeoEye.
IKONOS is a 3-axis stabilized spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin. The design later became known as the LM900 satellite bus system. The satellite's altitude is measured by two star trackers and a sun sensor and controlled by four reaction wheels; location knowledge is provided by a GPS receiver. The design life is 7 years; S/C body size=1.83 m x 1.57 m (hexagonal configuration); S/C mass = 817 kg; power = 1.5 kW provided by 3 solar panels.
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