Canada: UrtheCast has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The contract will allow the two groups to cooperate on research and development for highly specialized Earth observation satellites.
In June 2015, UrtheCast announced its plans to build, launch and operate the world's first fully-integrated, multispectral optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) commercial constellation of Earth Observation satellites, which is now known as OptiSAR. The NGA is a combat-support agency under the U.S. Department of Defense.
Its mandate is to assist with mapping in support of national security. This isn’t the Vancouver company’s first connection to the American intelligence agency. Former NGA director Tish Long joined UrtheCast’s boardroom a year ago. A few months after Long joined, UrtheCast announced plans to develop its OptiSAR (multispectral optical and synthetic aperture radar) constellation.
The OptiSAR project is made up of 16 satellites scanning the planet. UrtheCast said it expects the constellation to begin operations by 2020 following multiple satellite launches. UrtheCast's President, CEO, and co-founder, Wade Larson, said: "Our work on the OptiSAR constellation gives us confidence that it will bring unprecedented capabilities to this industry. We couldn't be more pleased with the progress we're making and are thrilled with the opportunity to partner with NGA on these critical R&D activities. We believe this CRADA will enhance OptiSAR's ability to support our overall customer base."