Air Force Study Makes Case for Hosted Payloads

Intelsat General recently completed a satellite communications (SATCOM) research study for the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC). The Air Force requested the study to examine closely commercial best practices around satellite hosting and acquisition, and to determine how those practices could benefit and support the Air Force’s mission in space.

The study approached the question from two distinct but related angles:

  • Identify immediate potential hosted payload opportunities (immediate being defined as able to be contracted within 18 months)
  • More broadly identify all commercial satellite acquisition best practices for review and consideration

I can’t share detailed results of the study, since the work product belongs to the Air Force. However, I can share the high level success criteria that were identified in the study results. The foundations of creating commercial advantages are:

  1. Fixed price contracting
  2. Mature, consistent requirements
  3. Adherence to schedule
  4. Contracted performance levels
  5. Taking a global sourcing approach
  6. Leveraging a global supply chain
  7. Partners having significant staff presence on location

By applying commercial practices founded on these practices, hosted payloads can positively impact all major practical factors of acquisition, especially in optimizing cost, schedule, performance and risk.

The study identified numerous potential hosting opportunities for SMC in the near future, including many offering highly desirable Ka-band spectrum.

The adoption of commercial space acquisition best practices, and commercial hosting of payloads, will deliver real performance in space-based capabilities in less than three years from date of contract. It can also relieve key burdens of risk at a significantly reduced cost to the government customer.

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