The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) today announced the award of six study contracts for commercial radio frequency (RF) remote sensing. Companies receiving awards under NRO’s Strategic Commercial Enhancement’s (SCE) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Framework include Aurora Insight, HawkEye 360, Kleos Space, PredaSAR, Spire Global, and Umbra Lab.
The NRO leads in developing, acquiring, launching, and operating the nation’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance satellites to secure and expand America’s advantage in space. The NRO is building a diversified and resilient architecture of spacecraft and ground systems designed to meet the challenges of a changing space environment by accelerating innovation and leveraging strategic partnerships.
“Since the 2019 award of an integration study contract for commercial RF, we’ve seen increasing demand for this data source from across the user community,” said Dr. Chris Scolese, director of the NRO. “Today’s awards are another great example of NRO’s efforts to innovate on all fronts, as we continue to work with our partners in government and the commercial sector to find new ways to build capability, agility, capacity, speed, and resilience into everything we do.”
This new BAA focus area will help the NRO better understand the capabilities of multiple commercial RF providers to address new intelligence challenges. This is the second focus area awarded under the NRO’s new SCE BAA framework, designed to streamline the assessment and operationalization of emerging commercial capabilities. The SCE BAA Framework and first focus area for commercial radar were released in October 2021, followed by awards in January 2022 to five commercial radar providers. Similar to the commercial radar focus area, the RF focus area was open to both U.S. and foreign-owned U.S. commercial RF providers.
The unclassified, shareable nature of commercial remote sensing data, including RF, makes it a valuable source for situational awareness and intelligence sharing among U.S. allies and partners.
“As evidenced by the quality and quantity of commercial data flowing to our partners and allies, commercial remote sensing is a mainstay not only for security and intelligence applications but also for helping to manage humanitarian crises,” emphasized Pete Muend, director of NRO’s Commercial Systems Program Office. “Since the early days of Ukraine crisis, NRO’s commercial data providers have been collecting electro-optical and radar imagery as well as commercial RF data over the region.”
The BAA and its first two focus areas build on the success of NRO’s earlier studies and operational contracts, and create additional opportunities to expand NRO’s commitment to the rapid acquisition and integration of commercial space-based data.