US: US intelligence official has revealed that the community has thrown its support behind a bid by commercial space imagery provider DigitalGlobe to sell higher resolution images from its satellites. DigitalGlobe has pressed the government for years to allow it to sell such imagery but US government agencies worried that giving public access to them could undermine the intelligence advantage they have from even higher resolution satellite images. The green light from the US intelligence community follows rapid advances by non-US space imagery companies that have raised concerns that DigitalGlobe could lose market share if it is not allowed to compete on high resolution images.
“US intelligence agencies had agreed to allow commercial providers to sell higher resolution imagery but that the decision still needed approval by other agencies. The recommendation certainly bodes well for the industry,” said James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence. "DigitalGlobe applied for a license nearly one year to increase the resolution of its imagery from 50 cm to 25 cm. It welcomed Clapper's remarks and said it hoped the US government would act quickly to finalize the decision. American spy agencies have essentially endorsed the request by DigitalGlobe to sell 25-cm imagery,” said Letitia Long, Director of the US government's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The Colorado-based company is preparing to launch its new WorldView 3 satellite in August, which will allow the company to sell imagery accurate to 31 cm. "DigitalGlobe appreciates the intelligence community's support for reforms to the current US regulations. We are hopeful that the administration will act promptly on this issue to advance the nation's commanding lead in this strategically important industry," said Walter Scott, Founder and Chief Technical Officer of DigitalGlobe.