WASHINGTON — Kleos Space and Spire Global have been awarded contract extensions by the National Reconnaissance Office for commercial radio-frequency (RF) data, the companies announced April 3.

Kleos and Spire are global companies with U.S. headquarters in Denver and San Francisco, respectively. They were among six companies the NRO selected last year for cooperative agreements that give the agency access to the companies’ business plans and help the agency understand the quality of commercially available data. 

RF-signals monitoring from space is an emerging sector of the remote sensing industry that uses low-orbiting satellites to track ships, vehicles, electronic jammers or any devices that emit radio frequency signals. 

Kleos operates three clusters of four satellites to detect RF signals and pinpoint their location. Spire operates a constellation of more than 100 multipurpose satellites that monitor radio-frequency signals, including 40 satellites with geolocation capabilities that can track GPS jamming events.

NRO ‘commercial enhancements’

Both companies were awarded “stage two” two-year contract options under the NRO’s  Strategic Commercial Enhancements Broad Agency Announcement program.

The NRO builds and operates surveillance and reconnaissance satellites for the U.S. government and in recent years has expanded its agreements with private companies in an effort to leverage commercial investments in remote sensing. 

The stage one contracts focused on modeling and simulations of companies’ data collection capabilities.

“Under stage two, Kleos is demonstrating the accuracy of its radio frequency geolocation data over land and water and end-to-end latency of its overall architecture,” the company said in a statement. 

This phase of the contract “emphasizes tasking, data collection, and direct delivery of data to end users,” said Kleos. “The NRO also exercised an option for future purchases of Kleos data and products.”

Spire said the NRO under the stage two contract will “continue to evaluate how commercial RF will be integrated into its overhead architecture.”

“The NRO has continued to show its commitment to innovation by recognizing the value of RF data in providing situational awareness and strengthening global security,” said Chuck Cash, Spire’s vice president of federal sales.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...