The National Reconnaissance Office plans to begin in 2020 a new procurement process to buy commercial satellite imagery from several companies, SpaceNews reported Thursday.
To kick off the process, NRO selected Maxar Technologies, Spaceflight Industries’ BlackSky Global subsidiary and Planet to perform one-year studies to assess the industry’s capacity to help the U.S. government address satellite imagery requirements by 2023.
Peter Muend, director of the newly created commercial systems program office at NRO, said the agency will begin planning large imagery procurements in late 2020 following the studies.
“We see a dramatic increase in commercial requirements. That means we’re going to be buying a lot more commercial imagery than we have in the past,” Muend said Tuesday at the GEOINT 2019 symposium in San Antonio.
Tony Frazier, executive vice president of global field operations at Maxar and a 2019 Wash100 winner, said the company has committed to investing $600M in the development of WorldView Legion, a new satellite constellation that will begin launching in 2021 to help meet the government’s future high-revisit imagery requirements.