NRO expands commercial partnerships – SpaceNews | Science

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Leaders of the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government agency responsible for designing, building, launching and maintaining America’s intelligence satellites, often cite their commitment to commercial purchases.

“Buy what we can and build what we must” is the agency’s long-standing strategy, NRO Director Chris Scolese said in 2022 when the agency awarded contracts worth $4 billion over a decade to BlackSky, Maxar Technologies and Planet. The Earth-observation contracts, awarded under NRO’s Electro-Optical Commercial Layer (EOCL) program, were among the largest commercial prizes in the intelligence agency’s history, said Pete Muend, director of the NRO Commercial Systems Program Office (CSPO). NRO also purchases rides to orbit for classified payloads through the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket program.

To better understand NRO’s approach to commercial purchases, SpaceNews caught up with Muend. Before helping to establish CSPO in 2018, Muend directed NRO’s Commercial Geospatial Intelligence Activity, a joint NRO-National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency initiative focused on DEBRA WERNER commercial geospatial intelligence…


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