Cancellation helps geospatial firms, group says

Congress' decision to withhold funding for a proposed Defense Department satellite imagery program is winning praise from industry executives who claim the program would have been redundant.

The House and Senate did not include funding for the National Reconnaissance Office¹s proposed Broad Area Space-based Imagery Collector program in the defense spending package written this year. The program would have constructed two imaging satellites for launch in 2012 or 2013 at a cost of about $1.7 billion.

The decision will help increase the use of commercial satellite imagery, an industry group said.

"By buying imagery it needs from commercial providers, the government has enabled the growth of a new geospatial industry," said Berin Szoka, chairman of the Space Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates loosening the government¹s hold on opportunities in space development.

"This approach, which began in 2003, saves taxpayers money by sharing the capital cost of building expensive imaging satellites with commercial image buyers like Google and Microsoft," Szoka said in a news release.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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