NRO Awards Planet Contract as Part of Transition of Commercial Imagery Acquisition

CHANTILLY, Va.. October 15, 2019 (NRO PR) – The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) today announced the transition of the Planet commercial imagery subscription service from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to the NRO.

As part of the transition, the NRO awarded Planet an unclassified, multi-year subscription service contract for daily, large-area, 3-5 meter resolution commercial imagery collection.

Recognizing the importance of mission continuity, the scope of the new NRO contract is comparable to NGA’s previous contracts with Planet and includes access to new daily unclassified imagery over multiple areas of interest to military planners, warfighters, and the national security community.

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USAF Awards ULA Contract for Atlas V Launches

Atlas V launches Orbital ATK-designed satellites for the U.S. Air Force. (Credit: ULA)

LOS ANGELES (DOD PR) — United Launch Services, Centennial, Colorado, has been awarded a $98,549,235 firm-fixed-price contract for Atlas V Completion launch services. 

This contract provides launch service completion for three National Security Space Launch Atlas V missions (two Air Force and one National Reconnaissance Office) previously ordered under contract FA8811-13-C-0003. 

Work will be performed at Centennial, Colorado; Decatur, Alabama; and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2020.  This award is the result of a sole source acquisition. 

Fiscal 2019 and 2020 procurement funds are being obligated at the time of award.  The Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity.

NRO Awards Fourth Commercial Imagery Study Contract

CHANTILLY, Va. (NRO PR) — The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced today the award of a commercial imagery study contract to HySpecIQ (www.hyspeciq.com). This award is the NRO’s first such award to a commercial hyperspectral imaging company and represents the latest milestone in the agency’s commercial imagery acquisition and integration strategy.

“HySpecIQ is developing interesting new hyperspectral imaging capabilities that have the potential to contribute to our current and future overhead architecture,”said Pete Muend, director of the NRO Commercial Systems Program Office.

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Lawrence Livermore Develops Innovative CubeSats

Engineers and scientists complete the installation of the laser heterodyne radiometer (LHR) into the MiniCarb cube satellite, or CubeSat. Clockwise from bottom left is Lance Simms from Lawrence Livermore and AJ DiGregorio, Guru Ramu, and Jenny Young from NASA. (Not pictured: Emily Wilson, Darrell Carter, and Vincent Riot.) (Credit: Randy Wong)

LIVERMORE, Calif. (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory PR) — The population of human-made satellites orbiting Earth has skyrocketed over the past 60 years. Launches nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, and a significant contributor to this growth has been the development and implementation of small satellites that are easier and less expensive to build and more cost efficient to launch than conventional ones. Today, the hottest destination for these spacecraft is low-Earth orbit (LEO)—in the range of a few hundred kilometers above the planet’s surface.

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SpaceX Statement on U.S. Air Force Launch Competition

Gwynne Shotwell

The following statement can be attributed to Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX:

“SpaceX means to serve as the Air Force’s long-term provider for space launch, offering existing, certified and proven launch systems capable of carrying out the full spectrum of national security space launch missions and requirements.”

Overall, SpaceX’s mature, operationally proven Falcon launch system delivers significant flight heritage and is fully capable of reliably supporting Phase 2 National Security Space Launch missions.

Phase 2 presents an opportunity to utilize and expand this certified operational capability to support the full spectrum of national security space launch requirements, leveraging the years-long, close technical relationship between SpaceX and the USG Team. This collaboration has delivered mission success for critical national security payloads, including National Reconnaissance Office Launch 76 (NROL-76), Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5), Global Positioning System III-2 (GPS III-2), and STP-2.

SpaceX’s Falcon launch system is the only system offered for Phase 2 NSSL that is flying today and has already achieved national security space certification—SpaceX is clearly the lowest-risk solution for the Government to provide assured access to space on time and on budget.

ULA Receives USAF Contract for Delta IV Heavy Launch

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into a part of the Sun’s atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The U.S. Air Force has awarded United Launch Alliance (ULA) a contract modification worth $156.7 million for a Delta IV Heavy launch of a reconnaissance satellite in 2024.

“This modification provides for launch vehicle production services for National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Launch Mission Three, the last of three planned NRO launch missions under this contract,” USAF said in announcing the contract.

The modification increases the cumulative value of the contract for the three launches from $310,784,574 to $467,537,345. The $156.7 million is about half of what the third launch will cost.

The launch could be the final one for ULA’s Delta IV family of rockets. The company is phasing out use of the booster as it develops the Vulcan booster.

New Acting Director of NASA Goddard Named

George Morrow

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named George Morrow to serve as acting director of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, effective Thursday, Aug. 1. Morrow will replace Chris Scolese, who is departing NASA to be the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Morrow has been serving as Goddard’s deputy center director since April 2015 and previously served as both director and deputy director of the Flight Projects Directorate at Goddard. He began his career at Goddard in 1983 as the Lead Spacecraft Battery Systems Engineer. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia and Masters of Engineering Administration degree from George Washington University.

Scolese is leaving NASA after 32 years of service. He has served as Goddard’s center director for seven years, before which he was the agency’s associate administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, which included six months as acting NASA administrator in 2009. Scolese’s career also included tenures as NASA chief engineer and Goddard’s deputy center director.

Goddard is home to the nation’s largest organization of scientists, engineers and technologists who build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study Earth, the Sun, our solar system and the universe.

Learn more about NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center at:

https://www.nasa.gov/goddard