Lockheed Martin employees and guests watch the launch of the WorldView-3 satellite Wednesday.

  [UPDATED: WorldView-3 launched successfully Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California at 11:30 am Pacific time, 2:30 pm Eastern] When DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 satellite soars skyward tomorrow – weather permitting – most attention will naturally be on the parts that go up. But the bus-sized imagery collection satellite is just the high-tech tip of an… Keep reading →

WorldView 3 satellite

TAMPA: The head of the Intelligence Community, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, told the world’s biggest intelligence conference that he has recommended to the White House that it approve significantly higher resolutions for the nation’s one remaining commercial spy satellite company. Currently, the United States limits the sale of commercial imagery to half a meter. The… Keep reading →

The WorldView-3 satellite being readied for launch.

WASHINGTON: Australia used both black and white and multispectral satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe satellites shot on March 16 to search for the purported wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. A source familiar with the issues said DigitalGlobe supplied several types of imagery other than the black and white satellite photos. The Australians used multispectral but… Keep reading →

The WorldView-3 satellite being readied for launch.

WASHINGTON: In the next few weeks an unlikely government agency known more for weather than regulating satellites, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), may decide the international future of America’s commercial satellite imagery industry, dominated now by DigitalGlobe. NOAA licenses American commercial remote sensing satellites, which includes DigitalGlobe’s five satellites currently in orbit. One… Keep reading →

ORLANDO: (Story Delayed Due to Software Problems) A study by the intelligence community raised industrial base “concerns” about the merger between commercial spy satellite companies GeoEye and DigitalGlobe but found no showstoppers.

That’s the word from Letitia Long, director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA). I asked Long today if industrial base issues had been considered by the government as it mulls the merger of America’s only two companies that make and operate spy eyes in the sky. She said Michael Vickers, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for intelligence, and Jim Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, had ordered a study. It raised “concerns” – but no showstoppers – about some of the subcontractors who serve the two companies. Several of them are single-source companies, meaning they are the only ones who provide certain services, software or parts. Keep reading →

ORLANDO: The terrorists who attacked the Benghazi consulate, killing US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and four others, apparently maintained web, cell and radio silence before they acted, giving the US no hint an attack was imminent.

“If people do not emit or discuss their behavior, it’s hard to find out what they are going to do,” Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper said at the huge annual conference of intelligence professionals called Geoint. The U.S., he made clear, did not have tactical warning of the attacks. He noted that there were anti-American protests in 54 countries when the attacks occurred, clearly implying the intelligence community had its hands full that day. Keep reading →

At last year’s Geoint conference, Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper made it clear that a significant amount of the savings needed by the intelligence community over the next five years would come from cutting the budget to buy commercial space imagery. Despite opposition within the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and quiet panic on the part of the two U.S. companies that provide that imagery — GeoEye and DigitalGlobe — Clapper was unrelenting. Quietly, the National Reconnaissance Office expressed satisfaction.

The NRO appeared to have, finally, won the argument over whether the U.S. should buy “exquisite” capabilities — very expensive spy satellites capable of capturing extraordinarily detailed images from space. In this op-ed, Robbin Laird, a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, argues the Obama administration has made a policy of abandoning public-private partnerships like the ones with GeoEye and DigitalGlobe at the cost of the taxpayer and the soldier in the field. (Watch us this week for more coverage of commercial space during Geoint 2012.) The Editor. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Someone had to lose in the battle for survival in the commercial spy satellite business. Yesterday’s announcement that DigitalGlobe and GeoEye would “combine” left it clear that DigitalGlobe had won.

After all the new company will be called DigitalGlobe and the CEO and chairman will be from that company, with GeoEye’s CEO playing an “advisory role.” And the board of directors will boast six members from the current DigitalGlobe board and only four from the board of GeoEye. Keep reading →

NEAR CHANTILLY, VA.: The White House plans to reconsider the existing policy governing the use of commercial imagery by the Pentagon and the intelligence community, raising even more questions about the direction of the commercial imagery market.

The head of space policy at the National Security Council, Chirag Parikh, is reportedly leading the effort. Several government sources familiar with the effort were careful to point out that while the policy would certainly be reviewed there was no firm commitment to change the existing policy. Keep reading →

Only one company is likely to survive the coming budget intelligence community budget cuts to commercial imagery purchases. Both GeoEye and DigitalGlobe appear to believe they will be the victor, opening the door on what could become a damaging contest for control of the U.S. commercial imagery market.

DigitalGlobe, a company that says nothing publicly as much as possible, offered a bold rejection of GeoEye’s offer on Sunday. Their board of directors looked at GeoEye’s bid and “unanimously” rejected it. The company said “it substantially undervalues the Company in relation to DigitalGlobe’s standalone business and financial prospects” and “does not adequately recognize DigitalGlobe’s superior track record of financial and operating performance as well as its constellation’s greater capabilities.” Keep reading →

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