From the Top
Past Year’s Progress in Acquisition and Technology Will Carry Over into 2015
Three events dramatically shaped our business in the past year. First, the troop drawdown reduced demand by military forces for satellite services provided by our company and many others. Second, U.S. government deficit concerns and the accompanying across-the-board spending reductions required by “sequestration” led to efficiencies and reprioritization within the DoD. And third, the U.S. military continued deploying its Wideband Global SATCOM fleet, bringing more of its own satellite capacity on-line.
So while these factors have led to less government requirements for commercial satellite services compared to a year ago, we think that 2014 was but a slight pause in the ever-upward demand curve for satellite services. From collecting data from unmanned aerial vehicles to delivering movies and email to crews aboard Navy ships, satellites are playing a larger and larger role each year in satisfying the communication demands of military forces and governments worldwide. And there is widely accepted agreement that government-owned satellites cannot serve all of this demand.
Indeed, 2014 might best be remembered for two steps taken by the U.S. Air Force to make better use of commercial satellite resources that will have long term implications:
We also made major strides in our on-going efforts to change government acquisition policies related to satellite services. Representatives from both the U.S. Congress and the DoD began actively supporting the use of multi-year contracts for these services, compared to the one-year-term contracts in use today. We will continue to work with both the Congress and the DoD to ensure they have clear statutory authority to do so. Such a step would reduce the cost of these services to the government user and enable commercial companies to better plan how to meet government demand over the long term.
Looking ahead, Intelsat will reach a major milestone in 2016 with the launch of its first high-throughput EpicNG satellite, set for the first half of 2016. The EpicNG satellites will use tightly focused spot beams and high power to deliver data at rates never before seen in the satellite industry.
A thorough analysis conducted jointly by engineers at our company and at L-3 Communications Systems — West found that the EpicNG satellites will significantly outperform existing Ku-band satellites in AISR communications and are equivalent to or better than WGS Ka-band. The study also provides further evidence that the government can avoid the time-consuming and expensive task of installing Ka-band terminals on the nation’s fleet of unmanned aircraft because they can achieve their desired data rates and performance well into the future at Ku-band.
The EpicNG spacecraft now being built are larger and more powerful than any Ku-band satellites ever put into orbit. In addition to the higher throughput, the EpicNG satellites offer a number of other advantages over existing Ku-band and Ka-band such as higher protection against intentional as well as unintentional jamming. The EpicNG satellites will be fully integrated into the Intelsat fleet, so that a user can easily transition from a wide-beam Ku signal to an EpicNG narrow beam.
Our industry is on a long upward trajectory of providing more capable and secure satellite services to governments worldwide, and 2014 was part of that trend. As with all businesses, we will experience dips in the road – some of which we can predict and others which we can’t. Our job at Intelsat General is to continue providing the best service we can under any circumstances. We look forward to continuing that standard in 2015.
Hosted Payloads Might Be Pentagon’s Affordable Way into Space
The U.S. Defense Department’s experimental “pathfinder” hosted payload satellite program might be the feasible short-term middle ground sought between commercial satellite providers and the federal government, which have haggled over high costs for commercial-based bandwidth services.
The U.S. Air Force plans to use hosted payloads on commercial systems to gain affordable access to space. The Space and Missile Systems Center awarded an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract under the Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) program this July, which created a pool of qualified vendors to fulfill federal needs for various hosted payload missions.
The HoPS program’s nearly $500 million contract provides flexibility for up to six hosted payloads and would net fully functioning on-orbit and ground systems services for government-furnished hosted payloads on commercial platforms.
Intelsat General Increasing Focus on Stopping Interference,
Musing Ka-band Options
As Intelsat prepares for EpicNG, its next generation High Throughput Satellites (HTS), a key focus will be on gaining strength in the military market. This sector has presented a challenge to Intelsat recently, as sequestration and contract consolidation led to reduced government spending. With the first EpicNG satellite, IS-29e, slated to launch next year, the company anticipates these highly capable satellites will result in newfound growth.
To make sure EpicNG is all it can be for the military sector, Intelsat General, the government-focused wholly owned subsidiary of Intelsat, has undertaken several initiatives it believes will prove advantageous. For example, the satellites will support spot beams and an open architecture system to provide higher throughput to existing modems and antennas. But one of the biggest improvements will be a beefed up resistance to jamming and intentional interference.
“In the past we have had limited capabilities to deal with interference on the spacecraft, and now we have capabilities to deal with it,” Mark Daniels, VP of engineering at Intelsat General, told Via Satellite. “We have a whole protected communications roadmap that we are working on where we can bring more options to the table for military planners.”
Command Center: A Conversation with Chris Hudson, Senior Solutions Architect, Intelsat General Corporation (IGC)
Chris Hudson is the Senior Solutions Architect Engineer at Intelsat General, and MilsatMagazine offers his in-depth expertise regarding the company’s various, upcoming Intelsat EpicNG projects and his successful career.
Mr. Hudson, given the technical expertise you bring to Intelsat General, many of our readers would be interested in learning about your background—how did you decide to enter the engineering field and, then, what drew you to Intelsat General Corporation?
Even though I was an engineering physics major in college, I co-oped and later worked full time building satellites at Hughes Space and Communications Group (now Boeing Satellite Systems). I moved back east and worked at Spacenet, ComSoft Systems (now iDirect), and, for the past 17 years, at Intelsat and Intelsat General.
How did you become involved with ICG’s Intelsat EpicNG satellite projects?
Intelsat EpicNG satellites are being designed, built and launched by IGC’s parent corporation, Intelsat. I explain to IGC’s customers how Intelsat EpicNG is radically different from existing satellite designs and why this is important to their applications and needs.
On February 19th, Intelsat General was pleased to host Admiral Cecil Haney, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and members of his staff, including Major General David Thompson and Ms. Kerry Kelley, at our new headquarters in McLean, Virginia. The purpose of Admiral Haney’s visit was to discuss opportunities for integration of military and commercial satellite operations. Admiral Haney and his staff were impressed by the efficiency, resiliency, and security of Intelsat’s operational space and ground architecture. The group also reviewed concepts for enhancing data sharing between military and commercial satellite operators, and for establishing an integrated commercial and government SATCOM architecture. The strategic value of an integrated SATCOM architecture has shown great promise in DoD exercises and war games. Intelsat General has been an industry leader in these areas. We look forward to continuing to help the U.S. Strategic Command and other U.S. government organizations bring these military-commercial integration concepts to fruition.
IGC: Going Beyond Bandwidth – a Q&A with Skot Butler, Vice President, Satellite Networks and Space Services
Question: IGC was recently selected by the US Air Force for the deployment of hosted payload missions. This has been a long road for IGC. What does this mean to the company?
Skot Butler: It has indeed been a long road to travel. It signals a couple of things. It firstly signals that the government is serious enough about hosted payloads as one avenue for them to accomplish their missions in space. They took the time and dedicated the resources, and they now have a dedicated program office to focus purely on doing that. For Intelsat General, we see this as an important signal, despite the fact that it was a multiple award, IDIQ-type contract with no immediate return.
The other important thing to note is that it gives mission owners within the government, whether they are from the scientific community like NASA or the Air Force or other areas, a contract vehicle and this is a key move forward. The contract vehicle gives them a mechanism to get the hosting service. It gives them a community of both government and industry folks who know what they are doing, are focused on delivery of these missions, and are already demonstrating some level of competence.
What it hasn’t really solved is the question of the payloads themselves. There is no mechanism within this contract to go out and have a payload constructed and delivered. It is focused on how the government users who want to build a payload can find a ride for that payload. It really doesn’t solve the inherent timing issues with the development and timely delivery of a payload. It also doesn’t offer a common interface that will make it easier for all parties involved to work together, synergistically.
Dominique Kaul-Meledje, Senior Principal Customer Support Engineer
Dominique Kaul-Meledje is a Senior Principal Customer Support Engineer at Intelsat General, supporting the company’s activities for DRS and European Defense Forces, among others.
She joined Intelsat General in August of 2009 after several engineering and managerial positions at various companies including Teleglobe and PCCW Global, where she was involved in customer support and engineering.
Early in her career, Dominique interned in Intelsat’s New Spacecraft Division working on Adjacent Satellite Interference in the Case of Two Degrees Spacing and the Intelsat VIII series. Subsequently, her second job out of graduate school was at Intelsat in the Operation and Planning Division.
Born in Paris, Dominique spent her early life between Paris and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. before coming to the United States to attend college. An avid reader, she enjoys foreign languages and has studied German, Russian, Latin and classical Greek. She is also fluent in three West African Languages.
She lives in Bethesda with husband Dennis. They have three daughters, Mary, Isabella and Karen-Alexandra.
In addition to a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, Dominique holds two Masters Degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one in operations research and the other in technology and policy.
Where to Find Us
In the coming months, Intelsat General Corp. will be exhibiting and participating in the following conference and events:
Satellite 2015, March 16-19, 2015, Washington, D.C. Speaker: Kay Sears, President of Intelsat General
31st Space Symposium, April 13-16, 2015, Colorado Springs, CO. Speaker: Steve Spengler, Deputy CEO of Intelsat
NRO Industry Day, April 22, 2015, Chantilly, VA
AFCEA Spring Intelligence, May 20-21, 2015, Springfield, VA
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