NRO to Implement Commercial Satellite Imaging Technologies in New Plan

Revolutionizing Earth Observation: NRO’s New Commercial Remote Sensing Initiative

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is planning to establish a flexible contracting pipeline for commercial remote sensing companies, led by Pete Muend. This initiative aims to integrate multiple commercial capabilities seamlessly into the government’s broader architecture, supplementing national systems and addressing the increasing demand from military and intelligence agencies for Earth observation data. Unlike NRO’s traditional acquisition approach, which focused on specific imagery phenomenologies, this new initiative will accommodate various types of imagery such as electro-optical or synthetic aperture radar.

Brett Scott, head of the NRO’s Geospatial Intelligence Information Systems Acquisition Directorate, emphasized the need for cutting-edge technologies in the commercial space industry and incentivize companies to promote innovation. The goal is to create a more efficient and effective way of acquiring these systems that benefits both industry and the government. According to Scott, finalizing plans are underway for a large procurement dedicated to commercial synthetic aperture radar imagery known as the “radar commercial layer.” While decisions have not been made yet, discussions regarding this initiative are ongoing with successful electro-optical commercial layer contract awarded to Maxar, Planet, and BlackSky in 2022.

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