National Reconnaissance Office Director Christopher Scolese spoke April 18 at the Space Symposium. Credit: Tom Kimmell Photography

COLORADO SPRINGS – The National Reconnaissance Office is casting a wide net in its latest bid for commercial Earth observation.

Innovative electro-optical capabilities will be the subject of the fourth focus area of the Strategic Commercial Enhancements Broad Agency Announcement.

In a request for proposals scheduled to be released in the fall, NRO will invite U.S. companies and foreign-owned companies with U.S. subsidiaries to share information on new sensors, innovative ways of processing data and constellations.

“There are not specific things that we’re looking for,” NRO Director Christopher Scolese said April 18 at the Space Symposium here. Instead, NRO wants “to see what’s out there for people or organizations that are interested in working with us and to give them the opportunity to see what we do in more detail. Then, we can determine collectively if we see a mutual benefit and how to make that happen in the future,” he added.

Previous Broad Agency Announcements

The NRO began issuing Broad Agency Announcements in 2021 for Earth-observation products and services. Previous BAA’s focused on synthetic aperture radar, hyperspectral and radio-frequency data.

The NRO also acquires electro-optical imagery for U.S. intelligence, defense and federal civil agencies through contracts awarded in 2022 to BlackSky, Maxar Technologies and Planet.

“We do have electro-optical systems out there today,” Scolese said. “They’re doing very well and we’re going to continue to go off and use those. We’re looking for the next step.”

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...