The US remote-sensing satellite industry has been boosted by a new White House policy that directs government agencies to make the maximum practical use of commercial capabilities to meet imagery needs. The commercial remote-sensing policy aims to aid national security by sustaining and enhancing the US lead in commercial high-resolution satellite imagery. Commercial satellite images were used extensively by the military during the war in Iraq.

Industry has welcomed the Bush administration's new policy. "The White House [has] stated the government will rely, to the maximum practical extent, on US commercial capabilities and ensure US companies continue to lead this important emerging technology," says Space Imaging chief executive Robert Dalal. Digital Globe chief executive Herbert Satterlee says the directive "pushes the technology envelope by encouraging all agencies to look to private remote-sensing companies for their imaging requirements".

The White House Office of Science &Technology Policy has asked the government to provide a "timely and responsive regulatory environment" for licensing the operations and exports of commercial remote-sensing space systems. The policy is intended to enable US industry to compete as a provider of imagery to foreign government and commercial users, but exports will be considered case by case.

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency, to be renamed the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, will be responsible for acquiring and disseminating commercial remote-sensing products for US national security.

Source: Flight International