DigitalGlobe extends key satellite imagery contract, new agency in charge

Maxar's DigitalGlobe arm extends its role on the government's key commercial satellite imagery contract as that program's management moves from one intelligence agency to another.

Maxar Technologies’ DigitalGlobe business has renewed its contract for commercial satellite imagery services to the U.S. government amid a change in responsibility over that program from one agency to another.

The follow-on contract awarded Aug. 29 for the EnhancedView program has one base year and one option year each valued at $300 million. EnhancedView also transitioned from its longtime manager in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to the National Reconnaissance Office, the agencies announced Tuesday.

Through EnhancedView, all U.S. government agencies have access to both DigitalGlobe’s WorldView fleet of satellites and the company’s extensive image library. Humanitarian organizations and international partners can also acquire commercial imagery through the EnhancedView program.

NRO Director Betty Sapp previewed the transition in April at the most recent Space Symposium in Colorado Springs and highlighted its takeover of EnhancedView as part of the agency’s larger embrace of commercial imagery, as reported then by SpaceNews.

DigitalGlobe has held the EnhancedView contract for nearly two decades dating back to when it was one of two companies on that program alongside former rival GeoEye. DigitalGlobe acquired GeoEye in 2013 and four years later was itself purchased by the company now known as Maxar.

This particular contract was targeted last month by noted short seller investment group Spruce Point Capital that is questioning Maxar’s financial outlook and performance. Spruce Point went as far as to send a letter to NGA Director Robert Cardillo that asked him to review the contract.

Maxar has since hit back with a short statement it issued shortly after Spruce Point released its “forensic research” opinion on the company and then a longer, more detailed response to shareholders two weeks later.

An NGA spokesperson told WT the agency “and its leadership are aware of the letter,” which addresses Cardillo as NGA’s “Chairman of the Board.”

“EnhancedView continues to play a vital role in NGA's core foundational mission of delivering geospatial intelligence,” the spokesperson said.

Maxar's New York-listed stock was up nearly 6 percent in mid-afternoon trade but is down 52 percent this calendar year so far. The company's shares trade on both the New York and Toronto stock exchanges.