Umbra, Capella Space and GHGSat are among the seven companies that will provide NASA with commercial satellite imagery, part of an acquisition program that has a maximum potential value of $476 million across all providers. The contract duration is five years, with an option to extend it by six months.
Maxar’s intelligence division, PlanetIQ, Spire and Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary Airbus DS GEO were also selected for the five-year contract. The new awards are under the aegis of NASA’s Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition Program, which was established by the agency's Earth Science Division to acquire remote sensing imagery from commercial providers to support Earth science research.
“This contract will provide a cost-effective means to complement the suite of Earth observations acquired by NASA and other U.S. government agencies, as well as international partners and agencies,” the agency said in a statement. “An emphasis will be placed on data acquired by commercial satellite constellations, affording the means of complementing NASA’s Earth observations data with higher resolutions, increased temporal frequency or other novel capabilities.”
NASA initiated the acquisition program in 2017, when it awarded contracts to Planet, Maxar and Spire. Under the program, scientists can use the commercial datasets acquired by NASA for their research, so long as they adhere to companies’ terms and conditions. The agency also requires end user license agreements to more easily disseminate the data with its partners.
It is part of a broader effort across NASA to solicit and support commercial firms developing technologies it can then purchase as a customer. Another example is the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare program, which enables providers to sell launch services to NASA for its science and technology missions.