Space Commerce

Albedo Wins U.S. Air Force Contract for Nighttime Thermal Infrared Imaging

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
April 28, 2023
Filed under , ,
Albedo Wins U.S. Air Force Contract for Nighttime Thermal Infrared Imaging

Albedo, a company building an ultra-high resolution, low-flying satellite constellation, is excited to announce winning a $1.25 million government contract to support the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC).

The Direct to Phase 2 (D2P2) SBIR contract through AFWERX, the innovation arm for the Department of the Air Force, will test and evaluate Albedo’s commercial leading, 2 meter GSD (Ground Sample Distance) Thermal Infrared (TIR) imaging for nighttime conditions for the U.S. 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. 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.

“Nighttime commercial imagery is currently limited to synthetic aperture radar,” said Mr. Joseph Rouge, U.S. Space Force Deputy Director, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. “High-resolution thermal infrared will provide a new commercial remote sensing solution for the U.S. 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 U.S. 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,” he said. “It is critical that we leverage advances in satellite technology to meet our evolving mission needs in the coming years.”

About Albedo

Albedo builds VLEO satellites that collect visible and thermal imagery at the highest resolution commercially available. Once launched, the company will operate the satellites to provide imagery-as-a-service to industries including agriculture, insurance, energy, mapping, utilities, and defense. For more information, please visit


AFWERX, a program office at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), connects innovators across government, industry and academia. Through innovation and collaboration with our nation’s top subject-matter experts and harnessing the power of ingenuity of internal talent, by expanding technology, talent, and transition partnerships for rapid and affordable commercial and military capability.

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SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.