White House announces small satellite initiative

SpaceNews
By Jeff Foust
October 21, 2016

WASHINGTON — The White House announced a new ini­tia­tive Oct. 21 to pro­mote the devel­op­ment of small satel­lites, col­lect­ing under one roof a num­ber of efforts, some of which started months ago.

The “Har­ness­ing the Small Satel­lite Rev­o­lu­tion” ini­tia­tive, announced in a White House Office of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Pol­icy state­ment, high­lights sev­eral ongo­ing efforts by NASA, the Pen­ta­gon and other fed­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies to help develop small­sats or make use of images or other data they provide.

Some ele­ments of the ini­tia­tive were announced weeks or months ago. The OSTP announce­ment high­lighted a $20 mil­lion award the National Geospatial-​​Intelligence Agency made to Planet, the San Francisco-​​based com­pany devel­op­ing a con­stel­la­tion of Earth imag­ing satel­lites. “The imagery has many oper­a­tional uses, includ­ing envi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing, aug­ment­ing higher res­o­lu­tion capa­bil­i­ties, change detec­tion, and answer­ing intel­li­gence ques­tions,” the announce­ment stated.

How­ever, NGA awarded that con­tract to Planet, for­merly known as Planet Labs, on Sept. 12, accord­ing to the busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties sec­tion of the NGA web­site. The seven-​​month con­tract gives the NGA access to Planet’s global imagery archive, updated every 15 days.

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