NIMA deal will assure access to commercial satellite images

NIMA deal will assure access to commercial satellite images

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency has awarded a five-year, $500 million contract to DigitalGlobe Inc. to capture and disseminate high-resolution imagery from forthcoming commercial satellites.

Through the NextView program, NIMA wants to enhance its alliance with the remote-sensing industry and influence development of next-generation tools for producing images captured by commercial satellites.

"NIMA's NextView effort is a significant milestone for our agency," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., NIMA's director. "It represents NIMA's commitment toward guaranteeing our nation maintains a technological edge in satellite imagery technology.'

Along with the contract awarded to DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Colo., NIMA is in discussions with Space Imaging LLC of Thornton, Colo., to continue developing a system to provide an additional source for collecting commercial imagery.

NextView meshes with a White House policy issued in May that governs the licensing and operation of remote-sensing space systems used to collect imagery and geospatial data. Remote-sensing space systems refer to the entire spectrum of systems used to gather geospatial satellite images'the satellites, ground stations, data links, and command and control facilities.

The White House drafted the U.S. Commercial Remote Sensing Space Policy because of the government's growing reliance on commercial space systems to capture images used for national security purposes. The policy calls for industry to build systems that meet security standards set by the Defense Department and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The policy directs NIMA, in consultation with the State Department, to act as the lead agency in acquiring and disseminating imagery and GIS data gathered by commercial remote-sensing space systems.

"NextView moves beyond the commodity-based approach of commercial imagery acquisition and seeks to assure access, priority tasking rights, volume [coverage] and broad licensing terms for sharing imagery with all potential mission partners," NIMA said in a statement. "This contract will transform how NIMA provides geospatial intelligence by assuring availability of 0.5-meter commercial imagery."

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