The public is familiar with satellite imagery through consumer applications — most notably, Google Earth. GeoEye (Herndon, Va.) and DigitalGlobe (Longmont, Colo.) sell their imagery mostly to government agencies. However, there is also a market for business applications of satellite imagery — such as monitoring agricultural production over large areas, counting cars in the parking lots of department stores, or identifying suitable locations for installing solar panels. They constitute a substantial portion of the sales of satellite imagery by DigitalGlobe, GeoEye and Astrium (based in Toulouse, France, with Astrium GEO-Information Services North America based in Chantilly, Va.).
Astrium GEO-Information Services (a subsidiary of EADS with offices worldwide) specializes in Earth observation and navigation services. About half of the sales by its GEO-Information division are to governments, including defense, intelligence, and federal, state and local governments, according to Nicolas Stussi, the company’s director of business development in North America. The other half, he says, are to businesses — mainly oil and gas and agriculture, but also Web mapping, locationbased services (LBS), and other emerging technologies. However, in the United States and Canada, the government share of the company’s sales is closer to 70 percent. Astrium does not currently have a major focus on sales to consumers, but it is pursuing opportunities on a case by case basis, through partners. DigitalGlobe gets roughly 60 percent of revenue from its work with the U.S. government and the balance from a combination of international civil government, LBS, and other verticals, according to Aaron Crane, the company’s vice president of product management.