Valued at billions of dollars over the next decade, these contracts mark a historic expansion of the NRO’s acquisition of commercial imagery to meet increasing customer demands with greater capacity than ever before.
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) today announced the results of its largest-ever commercial imagery contract effort, awarding Electro-Optical Commercial Layer (EOCL) contracts to BlackSky, Maxar, and Planet. Valued at billions of dollars over the next decade, these contracts mark a historic expansion of the NRO’s acquisition of commercial imagery to meet increasing customer demands with greater capacity than ever before.
“The NRO has a long-standing strategy of ‘buy what we can, build what we must'”, said Dr. Chris Scolese, director of the NRO. “The diversity offered by our expanding architecture comprised of both commercial and NRO systems increases our resilience and enables an integrated approach to the threats facing our Nation.”
Due to its unclassified and shareable nature, commercial remote sensing data offer important benefits, including increased transparency, mission-critical situational awareness, and humanitarian assistance. EOCL’s unique design, featuring user-friendly license agreements and built-in contract flexibility, maximizes shareability across a diverse customer base.
“Commercial imagery is a valuable tool for information sharing and decision making,” said Pete Muend, director of NRO’s commercial systems program office. “EOCL allows us to meet a larger number of customer requirements more quickly than ever before and dedicate national systems to the most challenging and sensitive missions.”
The EOCL awards are the culmination of close collaboration with stakeholders from across the defense and intelligence communities. EOCL includes a substantial increase in requirements for foundation data, intelligence points, and non-taskable data collection; shortwave infrared, nighttime, and non-Earth imaging; and direct downlink to theater- based remote ground terminals—a vital capability for the military that has been successfully demonstrated in multiple exercises over the past year.
EOCL will support the mission needs of NRO’s half-million intelligence, defense, and federal civil agency users over the next decade. It will also help ensure long-term, continued support for the U.S. commercial remote sensing industry. EOCL is effective as of May 22, 2022 with a five-year base and multiple one-year options with additional growth through 2032.
Maxar Technologies an innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, announces the award of an Electro-Optical Commercial Layer (EOCL) contract by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). EOCL, a five-year base contract with five additional years of options through 2032, represents the largest ever commercial imagery acquisition contract awarded by the NRO. Under the award agreement, Maxar will continue to provide high-resolution commercial satellite imagery in support of the U.S. defense and intelligence community and missions carried out in partnership with U.S. allies and partners. Maxar has delivered commercial satellite imagery to the U.S. Government since 2000, and is used daily by the U.S. Government for mapping, mission planning, emergency response and other activities that serve the intelligence, defense and federal civil agency user communities. Recent world events, including the war in Ukraine, have revealed commercial geospatial intelligence and the value of programs such as EOCL that enable unclassified information sharing with U.S. allies and NATO partners.
The EOCL contract will transition the imagery acquisition requirements currently addressed by the EnhancedView Follow-On (EVFO) and its predecessor contracts, held by Maxar for over two decades. EOCL’s expanded scope and value includes Foundation, Intelligence Area and Points collection plus the additional capabilities of shortwave infrared, non-Earth imaging, nighttime imaging and theater direct downlink. EOCL’s five-year base and five one-year options, as well as its flexible contract structure, allows for increased technology innovation and capability development, demonstrating an important commitment by the U.S. Government to increase its utilization of commercial imagery.
“Maxar has been a trusted U.S. Government partner for more than two decades, and we’re proud to continue to serve that mission under EOCL,” said Dan Jablonsky, Maxar President and Chief Executive Officer. “This agreement provides a foundation for Maxar’s growth in the years ahead, as we continue through innovation and disciplined investment to meet our customers’ most demanding needs and generate long-term value for our shareholders. As always, we are committed to the mission success of our federal partners, and appreciate their longstanding trust in our capabilities, quality and reliability.”
BlackSky was awarded a contract from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which includes a comprehensive set of imagery services from current and future satellite capabilities. The award demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. Government to leverage the capabilities of next generation commercial providers in support of its most critical missions.
The Electro Optical Commercial Layer (EOCL) contract validates BlackSky’s high-revisit constellation strategy and represents a substantial expansion in the NRO’s relationship with BlackSky. It also creates a significant catalyst for the long-term utilization of BlackSky’s satellite imagery services.
The contract was awarded with a five-year base and five 1-year options for additional services spanning a period of performance of base and options over 10 years. The award commences in the second quarter of 2022 and includes multiple options with additional growth potential for BlackSky through 2032.
“This contract is a pivotal moment in the expansion of the partnership between commercial space and the U.S. Government. We’re proud to be selected as a long-term trusted mission partner of the NRO,” said Brian O’Toole, BlackSky CEO. “We will continue to enhance our Spectra AI platform and advance our satellite constellation in support of the NRO and our growing customer base around the world.”
By incorporating an advanced SaaS customer platform and combining a 14-satellite constellation, BlackSky offers one of the highest dawn-to-dusk revisit rates over the most critical regions in the world. BlackSky’s technology results in an average collection time of less than 90 minutes from the moment a customer places an order to product delivery.
“Supporting both our joint warfighters and the intelligence community with rapid, all-domain real-time intelligence is BlackSky at its best,” adds BlackSky Chief Revenue Officer JR Riordan. “BlackSky provides highly accurate, decision-quality data directly to those who need it most—from senior leaders to those in the field. We are proud to be a part of the NRO mission.”
The National Reconnaissance Office, the Pentagon agency that designs, launches and and operates Earth observational satellites for the U.S. government, said it awarded imagery contracts worth billions of dollars to three companies, significantly expanding its use of commercial space services.
Through its Electro-Optical Commercial Layer program, or EOCL, the U.S. agency responsible for developing and operating spy satellites, issued 10-year contracts to satellite imagery companies BlackSky, Maxar Technologies Inc. and Planet Labs. In a statement Wednesday, NRO called the award a “historic expansion” of its commercial imagery acquisition.
“EOCL allows us to meet a larger number of customer requirements more quickly than ever before and dedicate national systems to the most challenging and sensitive missions,” the agency said. “The EOCL awards are the culmination of close collaboration with stakeholders from across the defense and intelligence communities.”
NRO gave no value for individual contracts. BlackSky, which has offices in Seattle and Herndon, Virginia, said in a statement its deal is worth as much as $1 billion over a decade. Maxar, based in Westminster, Colo., said its contract is valued at more than $3 billion. San Francisco-based Planet did not disclose its contract total.
Commercial satellite imagery is seeing increased demand, supplementing government-owned space sensing capabilities and recently providing key insights into Russian troop movements in Ukraine. NRO in 2019 awarded contracts to Maxar, BlackSky and Planet to conduct initial market research on the ability of commercial companies to meet government satellite imagery needs. Last Fall, the agency announced it would pursue the EOCL and solicited bids from industry.
“EOCL will support the mission needs of NRO’s half-million intelligence, defense and federal civil agency users over the next decade,” NRO said in the statement. “It will also help ensure long-term continued support for the U.S. Commercial remote sensing industry.”
Previously, NRO’s primary source for imagery was through a contract called EnhancedView, which originated with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. NGA was responsible for buying commercial imagery until 2017, when that responsibility transferred to the NRO.
EOCL was designed to improve upon the EnhancedView effort to make imagery distribution easier and more standardized.
The agency plans to award future contracts for commercial sensing capabilities and has issued study contracts for synthetic aperture radar, radio frequency remote sensing and hyperspectral imaging. In a broad agency announcement issued in October, NRO offered a framework for future commercial imagery acquisition.