David Gauthier spoke with SpaceNews about the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s growing needs for commercial data and services.
Capella Space, a San Francisco startup preparing to operate a constellation of synthetic aperture radar satellites, announced a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement June 25 with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
The NRO is ready to start buying products from new vendors and move beyond the single-supplier arrangement with Maxar Technologies.
"We expect our investment in commercial in total to increase going forward," said Troy Meink, who leads NRO’s Geospatial Intelligence Directorate. "As you can imagine with the increase in requirements, there's going to be an increase in the cost.
The National Reconnaissance Office awarded commercial imagery study contracts to BlackSky Global, Maxar Technologies and Planet, Troy Meink, who leads NRO’s Geospatial Intelligence Directorate, announced June 3.
NGA Director Vice Adm. Robert Sharp said the agency needs to change its business practices.
Cardillo: The future is about automation. We estimated we would have to hire six million analysts to exploit all the imagery we’re getting.
NGA is modernizing its cloud architecture “to allow our analysts to live in the data."
Officials are working on a transition plan to transfer commercial imagery acquisition from NGA to NRO in fiscal year 2019.
NGA plans to continue adding datasets, tools and challenges to GEOWorks, the collaborative data sharing platform NGA Director Robert Cardillo unveiled Monday at the 2018 GEOINT Symposium.
NGA Director Cardillo: “I want the market to work … but government shouldn’t be their first customer. We should be their second customer.”
"We are trying to effectively link air, land, sea and space. The geospatial context on the ground may give you some type of indications and warning of something happening in space," said Chirag Parikh, director of NGA's Office of Source Strategies.
NRO aims to move fast by relying on commercial products, expanding internal research and development
“Commercial space will be fully leveraged in satisfying user needs and fully considered in the development of every future space system,” said NRO Director Betty Sapp. “Just as we do in other areas, we want to design only what we must and buy everything that we can.”
NASA expects to purchase Earth science data from constellations of commercial satellites early next year to see how useful they are in meeting the agency’s research needs.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and National Reconnaissance Office are eager to compare their near-term needs with the capabilities of companies that obtain data from small satellites or have innovative ways of using space-based data to make sense of activity on the ground.