December 6, 2021

The Japan Herald

About Japan, Global Green Energy and Space Market

The National Reconnaissance Office has announced a new commercial satellite imagery acquisition

2 min read

On November 3, the National Reconnaissance Office issued a request for bids (rfb) from commercial satellite imagery suppliers in the United States. Under a new initiative dubbed Electro-Optical Commercial Layer (EOCL), the agency is looking for domestic satellite imagery producers. Bids must be submitted by December 3 to be considered, and contracts are going to be awarded in early 2022.

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is a US intelligence organization that designs, builds, and manages the country’s spy satellites, as well as being the government’s major buyer of commercial images. Contracts issued under the EOCL are going to replace the present single-vendor arrangement, which dates back to 2010, with Maxar Technologies. For access to Maxar’s high-resolution imagery satellites as well as image repository, the NRO spends around $300 million each year. Maxar has had his contract extended till August 2022.

On a conference call with media, Pete Muend, head of the NRO’s Commercial Systems Program, stated the NRO collects around 50,000 commercial satellite photos every week on average. He said he couldn’t give a budget for EOCL program, but that the US government’s demand for satellite imagery is growing, and that future deals will reflect that desire.

According to him, the last request for proposals (RFP) represents the culmination of over two years of the market research, including study contracts issued to Maxar, BlackSky, and Planet in 2019. The NRO gained access to the companies’ business strategies, finances, and planned satellite constellation capacity as a result of these contracts. The EOCL contractors that are chosen will be asked to sign “end-user license agreements” so that imagery can be shared among government agencies without extra licensing payments.

Companies that are operated, owned, and controlled in the United States are eligible to apply for the EOCL RFP. The agency stated, “This decision is centered on the United States’ national space strategy and the goal to foster more stability as well as investment in the United States market.”

“While a rising number of U.S. firms are at the forefront of commercial remote sensing, they are not alone,” Muend added. “We want to make sure that our industrial base in the United States is competitive now and in the future.” During a 3rd quarter earnings call, Maxar Chief Executive Officer Daniel Jablonsky informed analysts that he anticipates the NRO to award deals in the very first quarter of 2022, just hours after the EOCL request was released. “We’re quite confident in what we’re seeing for financing levels for EOCL,” Jablonsky added. They continue to see increased commercial use to suit the country’s needs.”

“I spent so much time on Capitol Hill, and I think the EOCL initiative, what it delivers, and the fact that it’s a fair value for US taxpayers,” he stated. “We continue to be very conscious of the world around us, particularly new firms and what’s going on,” Jablonsky said, adding that Maxar has more sophisticated imagery capabilities than its competitors. “We’re not going to stand still.”

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