USAF Awards Contract for Nighttime Thermal Infrared Imaging

Albedo has secured a Small Business Innovation Research contract to adapt its 2 meter per pixel Long-Wave Infrared thermal imaging for nighttime operations By DA Staff / 28 Apr 2023
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Albedo, a company building an ultra-high resolution, low-flying satellite constellation, has won a $1.25 million government contract to support the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC). 

The Direct to Phase 2 (D2P2) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract was awarded to Albedo through AFWERX, the innovation arm for the Department of the Air Force, and will test and evaluate the company’s commercial leading, 2 meter Ground Sample Distance Thermal Infrared (GSD TIR) imaging for nighttime conditions for the US Government.

Albedo will natively co-collect the highest-resolution commercial satellite imagery available in the visible (10 cm GSD) and thermal infrared (2 m GSD) spectrums. 

“Nighttime commercial imagery is currently limited to synthetic aperture radar,” said Joseph Rouge, US Space Force Deputy Director, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. “High-resolution thermal infrared will provide a new commercial remote sensing solution for the US Space Force.”

Under this contract, Albedo will characterize its night-time TIR imaging capabilities. This includes highly detailed lab characterization of the flight sensor, validating of end-to-end radiometric and image quality predictions, and generation of high-fidelity simulated imagery from new high-resolution aerial imagery collected with the flight sensor. Albedo will also explore constellation capacity to provide this imagery and combining all of the findings to identify the most promising US Government use cases.

“We’re committed to accelerating the Air Force and Space Force’s ability to understand its performance against our problem sets and apply our capabilities on-orbit,” Rouge continued. “Nighttime thermal infrared imaging can help our intelligence analysts, warfighters, decision makers, and field operators solve complex emerging threats day and night.”

“Our thermal imagery continues to gain traction in defense and commercial markets – specifically the ability to extract meaningful intelligence from the combination of our Visible & Thermal imagery during day-time,” said Albedo CEO Topher Haddad. ”Now for the first time, we’re excited to showcase Albedo’s 24/7 temporal advantage of thermal imaging by working with USAF, USSF, and NASIC on this effort.”

NASIC’s Principal Intelligence Analyst, Dr. Randall Bostick, emphasized the importance of partnering with commercial satellite imagery companies: “The intelligence community faces an increasing number of complex questions and issues that require innovative solutions for collecting and analyzing data. It is critical that we leverage advances in satellite technology to meet our evolving mission needs in the coming years.”

This is Albedo’s second D2P2 contract award through AFWERX in under a year, increasing the company’s government contract total to $2.5 million. The previously awarded effort is evaluating how Albedo’s NIIRS 7 visible imagery and co-collected TIR imagery supports various government use cases by understanding system performance, mission effectiveness, and how best to integrate their task-oriented constellation with government systems.

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