BlackSky to upgrade satellite imaging tech for DoD

BlackSky announced plans on Thursday to expand its network to include satellites that can provide high-resolution and nighttime images for the U.S. military.

BlackSky, already a major provider of global monitoring services, geospatial intelligence and satellite imagery for the Pentagon, said its Gen-3 satellite architecture will be able to produce images with 50-centimeter resolution and enhanced spectral diversity.

The upgrades will allow it to provide real-time insights to customers that include the Department of Defense as part of a contract awarded to the company in January.

The first Gen-3 satellites are set to launch and become operational in 2022, the company said.

The company also said it has conducted the preliminary design review of Gen-3 satellite design review for the U.S. Army Tactical GEOINT program as part of a multi-year contract with the Defense Innovation Unit.

The Gen-3 satellites will allow the DoD to support concurrent war games, exercises and combat training center events and help assess technological readiness, and the TACGEO project is expected to accelerate the military's ability to improve tactics, techniques and procedures and inform future operational systems.

Under the latter project, military users will be able to task a Gen-3 satellite, according to O'Toole. BlackSky will "help them operate it," company CEO Brian O'Toole told SpaceNews, providing analytics services using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In July, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Air Force research lab awarded BlackSky a contract to monitor COVID-19 mitigation efforts that involve U.S. military bases and supply chains, using its AI and machine-learning platforms to monitor overseas U.S. military bases and help maintain secure supply chains.

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