BlackSky Blog

BlackSky’s Blog

by | May 25, 2022

BlackSky platform. Validated.

BlackSky CEO Brian E. O’Toole

Our team was just awarded a contract worth up to $1B with the National Reconnaissance Office. We just sat down with CEO Brian E. O’Toole to understand what’s the big deal.

Brian, tell us about the award.

As you can imagine, this is a historic and monumental day at BlackSky. This morning, the U.S. government and the NRO announced that it awarded BlackSky a 10-year contract worth up to a $1 billion. The NRO has selected us to provide advanced high frequency imagery services that leverage the constellation we have on orbit today, as well as our future capabilities.

The contract value is significant, but if there were a bigger point, it would be that this award validates our strategy for a high revisit monitoring platform that provides dynamic monitoring of the most important and strategic locations in the world. The BlackSky platform is a new and critical capability that the U.S. government needs and has now selected to support their critical long-term mission requirements. It’s a pivotal moment for commercial space and this is the largest contract in BlackSky’s history.  And we’re so proud to be selected as the NRO’s long-term trusted mission partner.  There’s much to celebrate.

What was the unique value proposition that BlackSky brought to the table? How did innovation play a role?

Today is a major milestone in BlackSky’s journey, and moments like this don’t happen overnight. Early on we saw that government and commercial customers around the world have a clear need for real-time intelligence and access to just-in-time information in support of their most important day-to-day decisions.  Years ago, remote sensing was focused on providing foundational imagery, but the world has changed and there is now demand for advanced high frequency imaging to address new and emerging business and mission needs and challenges.

BlackSky stands out because our platform is a new and advanced capability that meets their needs for the high frequency monitoring of the most important and strategic locations around the world… Now and in the future.

Innovation definitely plays a role. Just in the last six months we’ve disrupted the industry by setting a few speed records and creating an entire technology infrastructure that makes site-focused, real-time intelligence possible.

At the end of 2021, we launched six satellites in thirty days, expanding our constellation from six to twelve. In response to the conflict in Ukraine, we worked with our partners and changed the planned orbits of our most recent two satellites in less than 45 days and began delivering data from those satellites to customers within 12 hours of liftoff.

Today with an advanced SaaS platform and a 14-satellite constellation, BlackSky delivers on-demand, high frequency imagery, monitoring and analytics of the most critical and strategic locations, economic assets, and events on Earth.  We are able to deliver images to our customers within 90 minutes of when they select their sites and place their orders.

All these elements of our business make us unique, and creativity has always been in our DNA. That’s paying off today by bringing that value to the commercial space industry and to our customers.

But is goes without saying that innovation and delivery of this type of capability doesn’t happen without the dedication, hard work and the tenaciousness of a world-class team. I believe we have the best team in the industry and they should all be proud of what we just accomplished and the potential that lies ahead on a journey that is really just getting started.

Do you think the recent events in the Ukraine played a role?

As you know, throughout the crisis in Ukraine our high frequency monitoring capabilities have been providing critical information to U.S. and International defense agencies, commercial companies, the media, and humanitarian organizations.

Events on the ground have been unfolding so fast across the entire country that the need for real-time intelligence has never been more evident.

Over the past 30 days we delivered well over 1,000 images to help provide transparency and support critical decision making which we believe ultimately helped save lives.

This event demonstrated that there are new and important capabilities from BlackSky and others that are fully operational that can change the way we see and understand our world.

In terms of your business strategy, how does this award support BlackSky?

The EOCL contract validates BlackSky’s high-revisit, real-time intelligence strategy and it represents a substantial expansion in the NRO’s relationship with BlackSky.  It also creates a significant catalyst for the long-term utilization of BlackSky’s current and future satellite imagery services.

We are just getting started executing our strategy and changing the commercial space industry. We are honored to bring real-time global intelligence to serve the missions of our government and commercial customers and partners around the world.

What’s next?

The contract starts immediately so we need to begin execution of the service, which we are ready to do.   We will continue to invest in our Gen-3 satellites which are on track to launch next year and continue the expansion of our constellation. And we will continue our investments in our Spectra AI platform and growing our team to meet the needs of our customers around the world.