PARIS — The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has contracted with Canadian-German Earth observation satellite operator RapidEye to purchase up to $4.6 million in RapidEye imagery over the next 18 months, RapidEye announced Sept. 6.

The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract is the first NGA purchase of RapidEye data. Brandenburg, Germany-based RapidEye, which was recently purchased by Canada’s Iunctus Geomatics of Lethbridge, Alberta, operates a fleet of five identical optical observation satellites, which have been in orbit since mid-2008.

The satellites offer relatively low-resolution imagery but, evenly spaced in low Earth orbit, they are able to cover vast swaths of territory — 4 million square kilometers per day — and offer relatively quick revisits to a given locale.

NGA is the principal U.S. government agency responsible for purchasing satellite imagery from the private sector. It has long-term contracts with high-resolution-satellite operators GeoEye and DigitalGlobe of the United States, and also has purchased radar imagery from Italian and German radar satellite operators.

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.