Maxar Technologies [MAXR], HawkEye 360, Kleos Space

and Spire Global [SPIR] have each received contract options from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to assess on-orbit capabilities under a prior contract the agency awarded the companies for commercial radio frequency remote sensing data.

The NRO awarded a Stage II option to Hawkeye in February and the other three companies on April 1, the agency told Defense Daily on Thursday. NRO is not providing contract specifics such as value, but said the “contracts are designed to quickly be scaled to higher values as mission value, customer requirements, and on-orbit capabilities are confirmed.”

In September 2022, Aurora Insight, which is now part of Maxar, HawkEye, Kleos, Spire, Terran Orbital [LLAP] and Umbra Lab received Stage I study contracts from NRO under the Strategic Commercial Enhancements Broad Agency Announcement Framework. The potential values of the contracts weren’t disclosed.

The NRO, which is part of the intelligence community, uses the RF satellites operated by the respective companies to monitor the Earth for electronic emissions. For example, the satellites can pick up satellite communications from a ship in the middle of an ocean that is illegally fishing and has turned off its required transponder that identifies the vessel.

Early during Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, HawkEye used its satellites to detect GPS interference in Ukraine where Russian forces were operating.

The Stage II options are for two years.

Kleos this week said that under the latest option it will “provide insights into how to optimize evolving commercial RF geolocation capability to enhance and augment existing capabilities in a persistent, resilient, cost-effective manner with products that are also easily shareable across the U.S. government, international partners and allies.”

Kleos also said the NRO exercised an option for future purchases of the company’s data and products to support extended development and experimentation.

Spire also said it had received two more contract options. NRO will evaluate how Spire’s RF data will be integrated into its remote sensing satellite architecture, the company said.