WASHINGTON — U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Director Bruce Carlson will be leaving his post July 20, a spokeswoman for the spy satellite agency confirmed April 20.

In an April 18 email to NRO employees, Carlson said he decided to step down after careful consultations with the U.S. director of national intelligence, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and his family. “The selection process for a new leader is under way and that choice will be announced soon,” he said in the email, which was provided to Space News.

Carlson took over the NRO in June 2009 with the agency still reeling with programmatic setbacks that had damaged its reputation for technical excellence. The NRO last April capped an eight-month, six-launch campaign that Carlson said helped restore critical intelligence-gathering capabilities.

NRO spokeswoman Karen Gilbert said Carlson came aboard with plans to serve for three to five years. He will have served three years by the time he departs.

News of Carlson’s resignation was first reported by the New York Times.