WASHINGTON — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) on Jan. 10 issued a solicitation for commercial satellite Earth observation data under a new program called Luno.

The program aims to leverage commercial satellite imagery and data analytics to bolster NGA’s global monitoring capabilities, the agency said in the request for proposals. Submissions are due March 26.

NGA officials first discussed plans for the Luno program last year at the annual GEOINT conference

Luno builds upon a previous contract known as Economic Indicator Monitoring (EIM) that the agency started in 2021 to tap into commercial satellite data sources. Nearly $30 million in task orders were awarded to five vendors. NGA officials said they planned to increase the program ceiling to $60 million.

In preparation for the Luno contract, NGA last year solicited comments from the industry. 

Only unclassified data

Luno is an opportunity for established and emerging commercial startups to compete in the lucrative U.S. government market for geospatial intelligence. Per the solicitation, NGA is interested in commercial data and analytics relevant to economic activity, environmental monitoring, and keeping watch of military capabilities worldwide.

“The objective of this effort is to acquire products, data and services produced from unclassified commercial geospatial intelligence on unclassified networks, not to acquire a technology or capability to install and manage on classified networks,” said NGA.

NGA said it expects industry to “leverage unclassified sources and analytical capabilities available in the commercial marketplace to produce these products, data and services.”

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...