The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) recently released a request for proposals (RFP) for access to commercial satellite imagery from U.S based companies.


The Electro-Optical Commercial Layer (EOCL) RFP, available on the NRO’s Acquisition Research Center, propels the agency forward to deliver next-generation commercial imagery that addresses the mission needs in the intelligence and defense communities.


NRO noted that the EOCL RFP is open only to U.S.-owned, operated, and controlled organizations, a decision based on guidance from the U.S. National Space Policy to foster greater stability and investment in the U.S. market.


“Global competition in commercial remote sensing is fierce, and while a growing number of U.S. companies are at the forefront, they are not alone,” Pete Muend, NRO’s Commercial Systems Program director, said in a press release. “We want to ensure that our U.S. industrial base is and remains competitive so they can continue to provide operational support to the IC and DoD in support of national security.”


In the last few years, satellite requirement in the government has increased, and Muend believes that this trend will continue to grow. NRO particularly collects on average about 50,000 commercial satellite images per week.


NRO has not disclosed the funding estimate for the EOCL program. But contracts awarded under the EOCL program will replace the agency’s current single-vendor agreement signed with Maxar Technologies, a deal established in 2010. NRO pays Maxar approximately $300 million a year for access to the company’s high-resolution imagery satellites and image archives.


Additionally, the selected EOCL contractors will be required to sign end user license agreements” so imagery can be shared across government agencies without additional licensing fees.


“These commercial contracts are designed to afford broad levels of shareability and user-friendly license conditions that enable greater access to and utilization of commercial imagery by a diverse user community,” Muend said.


Bids are due Dec. 3, and contracts are predicted to be awarded in early 2022.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.