Maxar Technologies can take panchromatic, color and color infrared images using its WorldView satellites. Credit: Maxar

WASHINGTON — The National Reconnaissance Office has exercised a contract option to continue to procure satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies through August 2022, the company announced Aug. 4

The NRO, a U.S. intelligence agency that develops and operates classified spy satellites, also is responsible for acquiring satellite imagery from commercial vendors. Maxar is the NRO’s largest supplier. 

The agency exercised the second of three one-year options on the company’s existing EnhancedView Follow-On contract signed in 2018. Each option year is worth about $300 million. This second contract option year starts Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31, 2022.

The original EnhancedView 10-year deal was signed in 2010. In 2018 the NRO tacked on three option years. 

The NRO is transitioning the EnhancedView contract to a new program called Electro-Optical Commercial Layer. Maxar and other commercial players like Planet and BlackSky are competing for a share of the EOCL contract. The NRO issued a draft request for proposals in June. 

Maxar operates four high-resolution imaging satellites — WorldView-1, 2 and 3 and GeoEye-1 — and is building a more advanced WorldView Legion constellation that was originally scheduled to start launching in 2021 but is now projected to slip into 2022.

Dan Jablonsky, president and CEO of Maxar, told analysts Aug. 4 during an earnings call that the launch schedule for WorldView Legion has been impacted by component delays and the company expects to launch between March and June 2022.

“There are two key drivers since the last update. First, while Honeywell has delivered the Reaction Wheel Sets for the first two satellites, the hardware from Raytheon is coming to us later than anticipated,” he said. “The Raytheon teams have been working hard and the second instrument should arrive in September, followed by the other four this fall. However, we had expected both of the first two instruments to reach us in July, and this has had a negative impact on schedule.”

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...