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BlackSky Secures $24 Million Contract Win with Air Force Research Lab

BlackSky Secures $24 Million Contract Win with Air Force Research LabAs revealed by the company on Wednesday, BlackSky has recently secured a lucrative contract worth $24 million from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to spearhead the development of cutting-edge moving target engagement services. Notably, BlackSky has been granted an initial award of $3.5 million to kickstart the project.

AI-powered platform to revolutionize space-based operations

The company plans to leverage its advanced Spectra tasking and analytics platform to showcase the profound impact of AI and machine learning techniques on various aspects such as multi-INT collection, automatic tipping-and-cueing, direct downlink, and moving target engagement, particularly within simulated exercise scenarios.

Brian E. O’Toole, CEO of BlackSky, emphasized the significance of their approach, stating, “BlackSky’s software-first, AI approach will significantly enhance the capabilities of commercial space-based moving target detection, tracking, and identification, operating at remarkable speeds. BlackSky Spectra has been meticulously designed to excel even in resource-constrained environments, demonstrating exceptional prowess in integrating information from diverse government ISR and commercial data sources.

Multi-million DoD contract Won

In another significant development, BlackSky Technology announced on March 4th that it secured a multi-million dollar contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The contract aims to facilitate the collection and annotation of numerous BlackSky multi-frame burst images, which will be utilized to train artificial intelligence models specifically tailored for commercial motion imagery analysis.

Patrick O’Neil, BlackSky’s chief technology officer, highlighted the transformative potential of this endeavor, stating, “We are pushing the boundaries of BlackSky’s renowned capability to monitor moving objects from space by significantly enhancing analytic precision and the capacity to identify patterns of life. This foundational work is expected to streamline the development of moving target algorithms for various customer-led initiatives.

Multi-Frame Burst Images

The unique attributes of BlackSky’s multi-frame burst images were underscored, with the company explaining that these images are captured rapidly in succession during a single satellite pass over a designated area of interest. This rapid succession enables the generation of 3D volumetric products and highly accurate movement-oriented detection analytics. These burst images can also be captured throughout the day, providing unprecedented flexibility.

Under the terms of the contract, customers will have subscription-based access to the BlackSky Spectra tasking and analytics platform, enabling them to leverage high-cadence, low-latency imagery and automated analytics to support a range of activities, including exercises, technology demonstrations, and operational requirements.

Space Development Agency Contract

In a separate development last October, BlackSky announced its success in securing a contract from the Space Development Agency through the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s AFWERX innovation arm. This contract aims to develop automated target recognition (ATR) capabilities, integrating data from radio frequency and electro-optical satellite sensors. 

The ATR system aims to track mobile assets in real-time and securely distribute actionable intelligence to remote devices and analysts worldwide, significantly enhancing situational awareness capabilities.

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