WASHINGTON — Satellite imagery provider Planet Federal says the National Reconnaissance Office has once again extended its contract with the company, giving the intelligence agency access to new commercial capabilities.
The NRO, charged with developing and operating the nation’s fleet of spy satellites, has been a subscriber to Planet’s daily 3-5 meter resolution imagery since 2019, although financial details of the arrangement have not been made public. In July, Planet announced the contract had been extended and expanded to include limited access to the company’s video capabilities.
This latest contract extension, announced Nov. 16, allows NRO to use Planet’s fleet of imagery satellites to monitor new areas of interest. It also gives the intelligence agency easier access to Planet’s medium-resolution data, incorporating it into NRO’s Commercial GEOINT Integration architecture, which already includes the company’s high-resolution imagery.
“As the world becomes more visibly connected, be it by sensors on the ground or in space, it is more important than ever that resilience and diversity of sources are integrated into foundational monitoring capabilities,” said Planet Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Robbie Schingler in a statement. “Commercial satellite data can augment government systems, and together, promote a more transparent and secure world. Planet’s deepstack of unclassified data will only further diversify NRO’s system architecture and we look forward to continuing to evolve our work together.”
Planet uses its fleet of approximately 200 satellites to capture more than 3 million images of the Earth’s surface every day. Earlier this year, Planet announced that it will go public through a special purpose acquisition company.
The company has seen growing interest from the government as the intelligence community has worked to more fully embrace commercial imagery providers in recent years. Planet was one of several companies awarded study contracts by the NRO in 2019 to help the agency determine its plans for acquiring commercial imagery. On Nov. 3, the NRO announced its next step for commercial imagery, issuing a request for proposals that could see contracts awarded in early 2022.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.