The US government provided another strong demand signal for commercial space at the GEOINT 2021 Symposium this week. This is exciting news for the Earth Observation and data analytics sector and will reshape the intelligence community's relationships with the commercial imagery market moving forward. See links below for the SpaceNews articles.
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is the US intelligence agency responsible for developing, launching and operating the nation's spy satellites. NRO is also responsible for buying commercial satellite imagery for the federal government. It expects to release a long-awaited solicitation to buy electro-optical commercial imagery before year-end after having issued several study contracts for various sensors including Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Radio Frequency Sensing (RF). The NRO is planning to select multiple vendors under this new program, moving beyond only one supplier (Maxar Technologies) in the current program. It remains to be seen whether NRO's overall budget for commercial satellite imagery will increase from the current spending of $300M per year for the EnhancedView program for new vendors in the coming years.
In addition, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the agency analyzes geospatial data in support of the US military, homeland security and allies, is accelerating GEOINT innovation by collaborating with the private sector and making it easier for non-traditional players, i.e. startups, to do business with NGA. These initiatives include launching a startup accelerator program based in St. Louis and issuing Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) topics to fund research focus areas of Analytics Technologies, Foundational GEOINT and Advanced Phenomenologies. NGA is interested in new capabilities related to Assured Positioning, Navigation, Timing & Targeting, Accelerated Task Orchestration, Data Access/Integrity and Analytic Workflow Modernization.
The U.S. satellite imagery industry will soon see the details of a highly anticipated procurement by the National Reconnaissance Office. The NRO is the U.S. intelligence agency responsible for developing, launching and operating the nation’s spy satellites. It is also the primary acquirer of commercial imagery for the federal government. The NRO plans to buy products from multiple vendors and move beyond the current single-supplier arrangement that the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency signed more than a decade ago with DigitalGlobe, which is now Maxar Technologies. The NGA in 2017 turned over responsibilities for commercial imagery procurement to the NRO, while the NGA remains the primary buyer of commercial geospatial data analytics. The NRO is expected to select at least three U.S. suppliers and structure the program with onramps for new providers.