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Very interesting news from California this morning about Space Systems/Loral and Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology division getting together to go after U.S. government business. Building spacecraft for fully-funded government projects can be more profitable than going after commercial projects. Sounds like a simple agreement:

"The agreement with Northrop Grumman will allow SS/L to cost-effectively add capacity to address increased near-term commercial satellite opportunities," said Pat DeWitt, chief executive officer, Space Systems/Loral. "The agreement will also streamline the process for our companies to collaborate on providing the world’s best satellites for both civil and defense applications."

"The resulting strategic agreement will be important to increasing our competitiveness. These initiatives will present win-win opportunities for both companies and our U.S. government customers," said Alexis Livanos, corporate vice president and president of the company’s Space Technology sector. "For some of our mission areas, we believe that assured access to SS/L’s 1300 bus and bus subsystems would improve our cost and delivery schedule competitiveness. In addition, hosted payloads hold the promise of providing us greater ability and flexibility to rapidly respond to our government customers’ evolving needs."

Some of these new opportunities included "hosted payloads" where specialized instruments or entire subsystems can be added on to a satellite bus whose primary mission is paying most of the build cost. Given the importance of the role space plays in today’s C4ISR systems (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), and the expected ends-of-life of the spacecraft currently in orbit, we’ll need a bunch of new launches in the short term. Factor in programs being behind schedule — with some going way over budget —  and you might conclude we have a problem, Houston. Intelsat General is going after this market, too.

Northrop Grumman is involved in a new moon mission for NASA, the LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite):

 

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