WASHINGTON — The National Reconnaissance Office is soliciting proposals from commercial remote-sensing companies that use optical imaging satellites.
In a Broad Agency Announcement titled “Commercial Electro-Optical Capabilities,” the NRO is seeking new and emerging types of imaging, beyond what is already included in the Electro-Optical Commercial Layer contracts the agency awarded last year to Maxar Technologies, BlackSky and Planet Labs.
Technologies sought in the BAA issued Aug. 14 include nighttime imaging, non-Earth imaging, multispectral imaging, video and infrared imaging. The agency also wants to hear about new products that companies are developing. Proposals are due Aug. 28, and contracts will be awarded this fall.
NRO Director Chris Scolese first disclosed in April the agency’s plan to select additional EO imaging vendors under the Strategic Commercial Enhancements BAA. Under this program, the NRO has signed agreements with several providers of commercial synthetic aperture radar, commercial radio-frequency and hyperspectral data.
The Strategic Commercial Enhancements agreements are open to U.S. companies and foreign firms that have American subsidiaries.
“The purpose of the broad area announcement is to allow us to see what’s out there,” Scolese said at the Space Symposium.
Scolese noted that the NRO has access to significant commercial sources of imagery under the EOCL contracts but it’s now looking to capture the next wave of capabilities that have emerged in the industry in recent years.
According to the BAA, “the government needs imagery products across the electro-optical spectrum, including but not limited to panchromatic imagery, multispectral imagery, nighttime imaging, non-Earth imaging, video, and spectrally diverse Imagery including short-wave infrared, mid-wave infrared and long-wave infrared.”
Commercial non-Earth imagery, or the imaging of objects in space, is a nascent sector where companies like Maxar are hoping to capture new business. These new capabilities can now be offered commercially following changes in the licensing process announced earlier this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA lifted previous imaging restrictions for certain imaging modes and for non-Earth imaging.