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Christopher Scolese: NRO Looks to Expand Commercial Satellite Capabilities

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Christopher Scolese: NRO Looks to Expand Commercial Satellite Capabilities

Christopher Scolese, director of the National Reconnaissance Office and a three-time Wash100 awardee, said the agency is looking to acquire more commercial products from the private sector following the awarding of a 10-year, multibillion-dollar contract to three space technology companies.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Scolese said NRO is planning to tap into the growing commercial market to bring in more satellite technology and capabilities capable of providing “incredible intelligence value,” the agency reported Thursday.

“We kind of have a motto of ‘buy what we can, build what we must.’ But really what it comes down to is the commercial market has really grown. And we’re seeing a lot of capability out there that the commercial companies are providing,” Scolese said.

In May, the NRO awarded BlackSky, Maxar and Planet contracts to provide commercial imagery and remote sensing data to enhance transparency, situational awareness and humanitarian aid missions.

“About yearly we’re going to … go off and ask for commercial companies to come in with their ideas so that we can engage early, prior to having to award of contract, so they can understand what the government’s needs are and we can understand what their capabilities are,” Scolese said.

He said the move will enable commercial companies to have readily available technology and capabilities to offer the agency when a new contract opportunity comes.

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