Smallsats Could Get Boost in Global Financial Crisis
Small satellites have been widely regarded as second-rate by Pentagon and intelligence community officials, who opt for massive, high-technology spacecraft lasting a decade or more in orbit. But the time may finally be at hand for skeptics to begin accepting smaller.
If so, the face of the U.S. satellite industry could change dramatically because smaller satellites are less complex to build. If the barriers to entry into this market are lowered, the standard cast of Pentagon contractors could be joined by smaller, and potentially leaner, upstarts.
Procurement officials at the Pentagon and in the intelligence community are expected to make a number of decisions over the next two years that will impact the shape and constitution of their future satellite fleets. These include choices about the next-generation satellite communications, missile warning and overhead imaging fleets. The traditional big three Pentagon satellite makersâ€”Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grummanâ€”are standing by with various partnerships and designs for these requirements.
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