Want to connect with a hosted payload? Alliance will play matchmaker.

Group will explore operational challenges of space policy, offer expertise

Civilian and defense agencies seeking satellite services in tight budget times can benefit from the lower cost, shorter development times and shared orbital resources offered by commercial payloads, said an industry group formed to help agencies capitalize on the commercial space sector.

The recently formed Hosted Payload Alliance held its first meeting April 11 at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 120 representatives from industry and government discussed ways that commercial spacecraft could host certain missions for the government.

The idea of using hosted payloads is particularly compelling in lean budget times, said Lance Lord, a former commander of the Air Force Space Command and a panel leader at the event.

“Federal budgets for many space programs are being reduced,” he said in an alliance statement. “Hosted payloads present an opportunity for the government to leverage commercial investments to provide access to space.”

However, he added that considerable work needs to be done to align the government's operational requirements and timetables with the commercial constraints of the private sector when it comes to details related to the acquisition, design, manufacturing and deployment of payloads into space.

The group’s mission is twofold. It plans to serve as a source of industry expertise to the public and private sectors on the use of hosted payloads on commercial satellites. The group will also explore ways to implement the guidance set forth in the National Space Policy released last year, which calls for agencies to explore innovative, nontraditional arrangements to meet their space requirements.

“A major goal of the Hosted Payload Alliance is to serve as a bridge between government and private industry to foster an open dialogue between potential users and providers of hosted payload capabilities,” said Don Thoma, chairman of the alliance's Steering Committee, in the statement.

The Steering Committee is working on an action plan and guidelines for new members. The committee's members are:

  • Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems Inc.
  • Intelsat General Corp.
  • Iridium Communications Inc.
  • Lockheed Martin Space Systems Inc.
  • Orbital Sciences Corp.
  • SES World Skies U.S. Government Solutions
  • Space Systems/Loral

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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