DigitalGlobe receives $500 million image deal

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency yesterday awarded a five-year, $500 million contract to DigitalGlobe Inc. as part of the agency's NextView initiative.

NextView assures the availability of high-resolution pictures from the next series of U.S. commercial imagery satellites. The program gives the government greater access and priority, and more advanced capability and capacity than in previous contracts, according to Defense Department officials.

"NIMA's NextView effort is a significant milestone for our agency," retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper Jr., director of NIMA, said in a statement. The program "supports our ability to implement commercial remote sensing policies established by the president and the director of central intelligence."

DigitalGlobe is working with other companies to substantially improve resolution and collection capacity.

Earlier this year, NIMA awarded DigitalGlobe a $72 million contract and Space Imaging Inc. a $120 million deal to provide high-resolution satellite images as part of a program known as Clearview,

DOD and other agencies will buy a majority of their imagery data through commercial satellite services, rather than depending on NIMA and other government sources, according to White House policy published in May.

Bush administration officials want government agencies to concentrate on a limited range of missions in which commercial imagery services are not feasible because of concerns about national security, foreign policy or other factors.

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