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Bengaluru's Pixxel wins contract to develop space tech for US surveillance body

Bengaluru-based space tech start-up Pixxel will equip United States' National Reconnaisance Office (NRO), a Department of Defence surveillance and intelligence body, with hyperspectral imagery-enabled remote sensing capabilities

March 23, 2023 / 12:27 PM IST
Pixxel co-founders (l) Kshitij Khandelwal and Awais Ahmed

Pixxel co-founders (l) Kshitij Khandelwal and Awais Ahmed

Bengaluru-based space tech start-up Pixxel has been awarded a 5-year contract by United States' National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to equip them with hyperspectral imagery-enabled remote sensing capabilities for intelligence and surveillance activities.

The NRO is an agency under United States' Department of Defence which works on space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. "For more than 60 years, the NRO has leveraged innovation and strategic partnerships to develop, acquire, launch and operate America's spy satellites," its website said.

Pixxel will provide technical hyperspectral imagery (HSI) remote sensing capabilities via modeling and simulation and data evaluation, the start-up said in a statement.

Hyperspectral imaging takes a spectrum of light that it divides into hundreds of narrow spectral bands so you can better understand and discern anything on the planet.

Co-founded by BITS Pilani alumni Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal in 2018, Pixxel launched three hyperspectral imagery enabled satellites aboard SpaceX and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launch vehicles last year. It is aiming to build a constellation of hyperspectral earth imaging satellites and analytical tools to mine insights from space data.

"Using its currently on-orbit pathfinder systems and future HSI constellations, Pixxel will demonstrate its capabilities through end-to-end tasking, collection, and product dissemination and respond to ad-hoc product ordering and delivery requests from the NRO and its partners," the release said.

The award of the contracts for commercial hyperspectral images was under NRO's Strategic Commercial Enhancement (SCE) Broad Agency Announcement Framework. The other firms to win are BlackSky Technology, HyperSat ,Orbital Sidekick, Planet and Xplore.

“The entire team here at Pixxel is excited to begin this journey with the NRO,” said Awais Ahmed, CEO and co-founder of Pixxel. “We are fully committed to this fantastic opportunity to offer our imaging capabilities to the organization, its partners, and the U.S. geospatial intelligence community.”

Aihik Sur covers tech policy, drones, space tech among other beats at Moneycontrol
first published: Mar 23, 2023 12:27 pm