The NRO awarded a contract to Planet in October for a multiyear subscription to daily, large-area, 3-5-meter resolution imagery. On June 7, Planet’s SkySat captured the recently painted mural on 16th Street NW outside the White House. Credit: Planet Labs

WASHINGTON — The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency announced Nov. 5 that Planet and BlackSky imagery will be added to the unclassified system that delivers geospatial data to the Defense Department, the intelligence community and other government agencies.

Planet and BlackSky imagery will be available through the Global Enhanced Geoint Delivery known as G-EGD, a decade-old system that up until now only provided access to Maxar’s unclassified imagery over the internet. The Planet and BlackSky data that will be made available through G-EGD was purchased through existing contracts.

Juan Sainz, NGA chief of commercial mission integration, said geospatial data delivered through G-EGD is used by national security agencies and civilian agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Center for Disease Control and other emergency management and health organizations that rely on satellite data for COVID-19 response efforts.

The integration of Planet and BlackSky imagery to the G-EGD comes as the National Reconnaissance Office is looking to expand the pool of commercial imagery suppliers. The NRO, which buys imagery for NGA, is expected to continue to procure the bulk of commercial geoint data from Maxar but also intends to award contracts to other commercial providers. Planet and BlackSky received study contracts from the NRO last year. 

The expansion of the G-EDG to new suppliers would help the NRO and NGA figure out how commercial imagery acquired from new providers will be made available to users. The G-EDG is one of several systems that NGA uses to push imagery to users.

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...