WASHINGTON — The National Reconnaissance Office will increase spending on commercial satellite imagery over the next several years as the agency seeks to benefit from market competition, analysts predict.
A new report from Quilty Analytics estimates the NRO’s annual spending on commercial imagery could grow anywhere from $50 million to $100 million a year. The NRO currently spends about $300 million a year on imagery provided by Maxar under a sole-source contract known as EnhancedView. The combination of purchases under EnhancedView and additional contracts expected to be signed with other vendors could bring total NRO commercial imagery procurements to $400 million a year.
The NRO collects imagery from its own satellites but also acquires products from commercial vendors for use by the intelligence community, the U.S. military and other agencies.
Pete Muend, director of the NRO’s Commercial Systems Program Office, told SpaceNews in a recent interview that the agency plans to award multiple commercial imagery contracts later this year. Muend did not specify how many contracts will be awarded or the expected value of the contracts but he said the NRO will step up purchases from commercial vendors.
“We’re looking at a future where the vast majority of our requirements ...