Home >> May 2013 Edition >> The HPA Corner — A Workshop On Key Issues
The HPA Corner — A Workshop On Key Issues
by Wendy Lewis Director of Communications, SS/L

LewisHead Continuing its ongoing efforts to facilitate open dialogue between government and industry, the Hosted Payload Alliance produced the “Hosted Payload Key Issues Workshop” on Monday, April 8, 2013 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs in conjunction, with the National Space Symposium.

Two years ago, at the same venue, the Hosted Payload Alliance began to take shape at its first workshop with a panel of senior U.S. government officials presenting their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges associated with executing on the guidance outlined in the 2010 National Space Policy.

Two years later, we might ask—has any real progress been made? There have been grumblings that, despite all the talk, there haven’t been many hosted payload contracts awarded in the last year. However, the open discussion between industry and government at the Key Issues Workshop demonstrated that progress has been made and that we will see more operational payloads hosted on commercial satellites in the future. The questions of “when” and “how soon” are, as of yet, unanswered.

The format of the workshop itself demonstrated both industry and the U.S. Government’s ingenuity in finding cost-effective solutions in the face of widespread budget cuts. Despite current restrictions on travel, officers at the Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, and NASA officials at headquarters in Washington, DC and at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, were able to participate in a lively discussion together with the attendees onsite at the 29th National Space Symposium by video teleconference.

AVL_ad_MSM0513.jpg The format worked well in promoting an active exchange among all of the sites, and the program included keynote addresses by Lt. Gen. John Hyten, who was onsite at the conference; NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver who addressed the audience from Washington; and Col. Scott Beidleman, who addressed the audience from the Los Angeles Air Force Base.

General takeaways from the meeting were that hosted payloads are a real and viable tool for creating a more cost-efficient, timely, disaggregated and resilient space architecture. The SMC noted that a Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) IDIQ request for proposals would come out in May and will provide an opportunity for the Air Force, NASA and the industry to work together to explore how hosted payloads for operational systems can become a reality.

NASA stated that it has already contracted with industry on several hosted payloads, including the Laser Communications hosted payload and the Atomic Clock and that it has additional missions under discussion.

During the course of the workshop numerous references were made to the success of CHIRP, the Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload, hosted on the SES-2 satellite, which is providing valuable insight into the potential for future wide field-of-view technologies and the benefits of hosted payload arrangements.

In addition to CHIRP, other recent hosted payload demonstrations include:

• The Intelsat launch of its Intelsat 22 satellite with a UHF hosted payload for the Australian Defence Force.

• A Harris Corporation contract award for multiple hosted payloads on the Iridium NEXT constellation for the Aireon global aviation surveillance service, to be launched starting in 2015.

• An SSL announcement of a contract with NASA Goddard to host the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) on a commercial satellite, which will be launched in 2016.

These are significant steps demonstrating more widespread use of hosted payloads and there is support at the highest levels of the U.S. Government for the use of hosted payloads, as demonstrated by the participation in the workshop. However, despite these recent successes and this support, the use of hosted payloads is still far from commonplace with only a handful of pending procurements.

LweisFig1 The Hosted Payload Alliance continues its mission to uncover and mitigate the deterrents that prevent the widespread use of hosted arrangements. The Key Issues Workshop at the National Space Symposium was another positive and important step in the effort to tackle these obstacles.

Members of the Hosted Payload Alliance commented on the value of the Key Issues Workshop and the progress in the acceptance of hosted payloads over the last couple of years.

The Key Issues Workshop was an important opportunity for dialogue about the most pressing deterrents to more common use of hosted payloads. We are glad there has been progress in examining the value of hosted payloads, but we need to see more business and operational solutions that truly leverage the benefits of government payloads on commercial satellites to reduce the cost of government missions.
” —John Celli, President, SSL.

The Government is moving in the right direction to make Hosted Payloads more mainstream. Having the discussion in an open format like this was very insightful.  The HoPS IDIQ acquisition will be another leap forward toward overcoming some of the typical barriers like knowledge of available hosting opportunities, access by participants to a contract vehicle, business and technical frameworks for connecting Payloads with Hosts, etc.  We are very optimistic about the steps they are taking.”  
Tim Ellis, Harris Corporation, Sr. Manager of Strategy and Development

While the preparations were more involved than originally planned, the VTC format proved to be very effective for engaging in robust government-industry dialogue on hosted payloads while maintaining compliant to gov’t travel restrictions.  Messages from the VIP keynote speakers, as well as participation from both the Air Force and NASA, speak volumes toward the continued support for hosted payloads.  The HPA looks forward to continued collaboration
.” —Janet Nickloy, HPA Chair

LewisFig2The format, content and participants in the Workshop all point towards an interest in building upon the momentum to further take advantage of commercially-provided means of accessing space via hosted payloads—especially considering this budget constrained environment. The HPA membership and the participating government officials are to be applauded for finding ways to continue this dialogue and collaborate towards enabling affordable solutions even when in-person participation isn’t possible.
—Nicole Robinson, HPA Vice Chair

The Workshop brought together a familiar group of hosted payload leaders from industry and government agencies.  It is clear that while there are growing pockets of hosted payload advocates within the USG,  it remains a challenge to change the mindset of the majority of those fully entrenched in major programs of record. Hosted payload proponents would like to believe that as procurement budgets are tightened, those responsible for bringing capabilities to our warfighters would gravitate to whatever solution has the highest probability of actually delivering needed services.

“While there is progress in this direction, until the procurement paradigm shifts and acquisition regulations adapt to allow long-term service commitments by the USG, the advantage of using hosted payloads to provide operational capabilities will remain unrealized.
—Dr. Bryan Benedict, Commercial and Civil Hosted Payloads Product Line Manager, In-Orbit Servicing Product Line Manager, Intelsat General.

Over the last two years we have seen some significant progress in moving hosted payloads from theory to practice.  The Commercially Hosted Infrared payload is a current example of success at hosting a government instrument on a commercial satellite but it is not the only example.  Other successes include the Australian Defense Forces hosting a military UHF payload on Intelsat 22 and the Federal Aviation Administration hosting GPS augmentation on several commercial satellites.  Last summer, the HPA hosted an information exchange between the newly formed Hosted Payload Office at Space and Missile Systems Center in New York City where industry and government had a productive discussion on the way ahead.

HPALogoThe Critical Issues Workshop held in conjunction with the 29th National Space Symposium continued the open dialogue. We also hosted a panel on Wednesday of the NSS and used video teleconferencing to connect senior leaders in Washington DC to participate in the panel.  USAF leadership has announced that they expect to release a draft request for proposals to industry to provide a resource to contract for future commercial hosting of government payloads.  We expect the contract to be awarded late in 2013.  This contract will be open to both USAF program offices and the broader Federal community of interest.  So the progress is tangible thanks to the hard work of our USAF aided by a highly capable industrial base.
Tim Frei, Vice President, Communication Systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

There is general consensus among government and industry that hosting government payloads on commercial satellites is an innovative approach (1) to providing access for payloads that would not otherwise have an opportunity for flight; and (2) for delivering robust and survivable architectures to meet critical mission needs.  However, the challenge for both sides is learning how to operate in each other’s environments and being able to co-exist on a shared platform without interfering with each other’s respective mission(s).
—Rich Pang, Senior Director for Hosted Payloads at SES Government Solutions

Here are some key thoughts from the panel, courtesy of the Space Foundation’s National Space Symposium website:

Nickloy: Engineering isn’t the challenge with hosted payloads, its typically the business side ... We are looking for win-wins, 100 percent dedication to making hosted payloads successful ... we need to look at issues from a systems engineering standpoint, taking everything into account ...

Beames: We can now look at what it means to rely on something operationally on hosted payloads ... I’m optimistic for the next five years ...

Kaufman: When your payload is being hosted, your control over your data and equipment is significantly diminished ... If something goes wrong on the satellite, whose payload has operational priority? ... If you’re on a craft that has a predetermined schedule, you have to think in advance how your payload fits into that schedule ... Cultural issues with hosted payloads are not unique to the military, but industry as well ... Hosted payloads have tremendous benefits for all parties ...

Loverro: Hosted Payloads have changed the dynamics of how we get things to space ... there are no policies prohibiting certain types of hosted payloads, however, we are limited by sensitive data ... it will take a concerted effort from both industry and military to make progress in the realm of hosted payloads ... Hosted payload are not necessarily an American-born or -owned idea; we all benefit from one another’s experiences ... hosted payloads provide us the ability to complete missions that otherwise wouldn’t have been cost effective.

Whelan: The sky is the limit, but we need to take calculated, gradual steps in expanding hosted payload capabilities ... hosted payloads are not an electrical engineering problem, but a social engineering problem ... Standard interfaces have upsides and downsides, but would be very helpful ... At some point we will face failure, but we are going to have to get by that in order to advance ...