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White House Objects to Satellite Imagery Provision in Defense Bill

Theadministration of U.S. President BarackObama objected to a provision in a Senate defense bill that would placerestrictions on the kinds of commercial satellite imagery the Pentagoncouldpurchase in the future, according to a Sept. 21 White House statement.

TheSenate version of the 2011 DefenseAuthorization Bill, drafted in May, includesa provisionbarring the Pentagonfrom entering into new imagery purchase contracts after 2010 unless thesatellites in question have 1.5-meter telescopes. [Photos:Earth SeenFrom Space]

Thebill must still be passed by the fullSenate and reconciled with the House version, which does not include asimilarprovision.

"Sincethe commercialsatelliteindustrydoes not currently build 1.5-meter satellites, this provision wouldrequireconsiderable additional government investment, and is not required tomeetdefense or intelligence requirements," said a statement ofadministrationpolicy posted on the White House's website. "Further, by stipulating apredetermined commercial solution, this provision could negativelyimpact thecommercial data providers, limit innovation in commercial technology,andincrease the risks on future government contracts for commercial dataservices."

TheU.S. National Geospatial-IntelligenceAgency (NGA) in August awarded contracts worth as much as $7.3 billionover 10years to the two primary U.S. commercial imagery providers,DigitalGlobe ofLongmont, Colo., and GeoEyeof Dulles, Va.GeoEye's contract will help finance construction of a new1.1-meter-aperturesatellite slated for launch in 2012.

Bothcontracts feature a one-year base periodwith nine one-year options. It is unclear whether the bill languagewouldpermit NGA to help finance additional commercial satellites withaperturesnarrower than 1.5 meters.

Thisarticle was provided by SpaceNews,dedicated to covering all aspects of thespace industry.

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