Author Topic: SpaceX's next big commercial customer  (Read 17850 times)

Offline IainMcClatchie

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Re: SpaceX's next big commercial customer
« Reply #80 on: 04/04/2018 04:40 am »
  • At 11:00, Dan Jablonsky says "Our largest customer is the US Government."  Which is what I said.

  • Nope. You said it is for spooks. Big difference.

    You're right, that is what I said.  To my mind, spooks pretty much are the USG, from an overhead imagery revenue perspective.

    The largest single non-spook US government customer that I know of is the National Agricultural Imagery Program [Edit: looked at old notes, forgot about USGS, duh].  NAIP shoots the entire US every three years from airplanes, and contracts with the six largest aerial imagery collection companies.  They shoot leaf-on, which is the opposite of what everyone else wants.  Because they shoot when most everyone else is idle, and because they are so large in scale, they pay less per area than every other (non-spook government) customer and (to date) the imagery shot is promptly put in the public domain.

    Interestingly (for me), the various government agencies that NAIP coordinates with are having trouble working together (article).  The result is that NAIP is probably going to move to a model where they pay providers less, but the imagery is only usable to the US Department of Agriculture.  The other government agencies will have to pay the providers for their own licenses, and the overall revenue for the same imagery collected will go up.  Folks who used to use the freely available imagery are out of luck.

    Edit: added USGS budget.  This got much bigger in 2017 due to $22m of Landsat and Sentinel 2 budget added.  I'm not sure where that was before, maybe NASA?

    NAIP 2017 budget:               $24.1m.
    USGS 2017 imagery budget: $55.1m
    NGIA 2017 budget:           $4900m (estimated, classified)

    Obviously just some of the NGIA budget is spent on collection, but it's a sizeable fraction.

    My estimate is that spooks spend an order of magnitude more on imagery than other USG customers.  Budgets for non-spook imagery are decreasing rather than increasing, and I suspect classified imagery budgets are down from the all-time high of the 1967 - 1984 KH-9 program, whose budget and some of the imagery collected are the only things still classified about that program since my friend Phil Pressel got it declassified.
    « Last Edit: 04/04/2018 05:09 am by IainMcClatchie »