At the leading edge for driving Hosted Payloads is the United States Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center (SMC), located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in Southern California. At the forefront of innovative ideas to help overcome the many challenges that face our nation and its national security programs today, and well into the future, is Lieutenant General Ellen Pawlikowski.
She is breaking paradigms, spearheading new thinking, and creating new options for delivering capability to warfighters in support of national defense. The U.S. Air Force (U.S.A.F.) is to be applauded for their forward-leading creation of a Hosted Payload Office (HPO), under her command. The soon-to-be-released Hosted Payload Solutions, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract is a clear sign that hosting government payloads on commercial satellites is a viable option when designing and delivering the future architectures that will be needed to meet tomorrows ever-increasing demands.
Hosted payloads will complement and supplement dedicated platforms while providing significant cost savings and improved resilience across most mission architectures. With the recent success of the Commercially Hosted InfraRed Payload (CHIRP) program, the hosted payload concept has also proven its ability to help mature and space-qualify new and innovative technologies.
Although the funding is fairly modest at this time, the U.S.A.F.s Space Modernization Initiative will not only allow existing systems to be modernized and upgraded, but enable the use of hosted payloads to deliver these state-of-the-art capabilities in a more timely and cost effective manner.
The Space and Missile Systems Center is forging the path to ensure the nation has as many options available as possible as we enter a new austere budgetary environment. Requirements and demand for capability will continue to increase with shrinking budgets, so they must use technology and innovation to drive down cost while sustaining and improving capability.
What can we, as an industry, do to help the Space and Missile Systems Center advance the use of commercially hosted government payloads?
Don Thoma, President and CEO, Aireon:
The SMC has taken the initiative to become a leader in driving the U.S. Government to recognize commercially hosted payloads as a viable alternative for space missions. To support this advancement, industry can help SMC in several key ways. First, we can provide SMC with subject matter expertise on commercial space practices. Commercial space programs are executed with processes that create substantial efficiencies and are proven to be successful. Industry leaders can help SMC better understand these practices and identify how the government can collaborate with commercial satellite operators to benefit from these efficiencies. Second, we can work with SMC to identify flexible options for executing hosted payloads during all stages of a hosted payload program. Finally, we need to help SMC maintain the momentum they have built by working with SMC to keep an ongoing dialog with leading organizations, like the HPA, ensuring that hosted payloads become an on-going part of SMCs procurement strategy.
Jim Mitchell, Vice President, Boeing Commercial Satellite Services:
Partner with Space and Missile Systems to create a joint database that tracks the pipeline of satellite projects and the size, weight and power margin available to accommodate hosted payloads. This would serve as a single database that all government customers could access in determining potential candidates to host government payloads.
Bill Gattle, Vice President, Aerospace Systems, Government Communications Systems, Harris Corporation
Hosted payloads provide an extraordinary opportunity to both government and industry to improve access to space. SMC has recognized the value and taken aggressive steps to capitalize on this approach. We congratulate them on their success to date and applaud their continued efforts to realize further benefits. Along with the economic benefits, hosted payloads introduce a unique set of technical, contractual and operational challenges. Our experience indicates technical challenges are typically addressable through proven engineering practices, whereas contractual and operational challenges require creativity and a revisit of industry paradigms. The key to success is open collaboration between all parties. Recognizing the time pressure of commercial launch schedules, both parties must be forthright in disclosing areas of flexibility and areas critical to mission success, such as integration schedules, information assurance, satellite resources, funding, etc. Business models can be shaped collaboratively by government and industry to balance economic benefit with mission utility.
Robert Burke, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
At Northrop Grumman, we are strong supporters of SMCs hosted payload initiatives. As a payload supplier to SMC programs, it is incumbent on us to provide payloads that can be adapted to a variety of platforms, including both free-flyer, dedicated satellites and multi-mission commercial and government hosted arrangements. Among the capabilities we bring to the table are scalable payloads that can be sized to meet different user needs and to fit within the host satellite weight, power, thermal and size demands. We build payloads that are largely platform agnostic and can be integrated with a variety of satellite prime power, thermal and data interface criteria. This flexibility allows us to adapt our payloads to a variety of potential platforms, not only for space but high-altitude, long-endurance air platforms as well. A good example of our capabilities is the scaling of components from Advanced EHF payloads to meet the needs of users requiring protected EHF connectivity in the high Northern latitudes where geostationary satellites do not have line of site with users. This is a hosted payload, and by all measures a success. In addition to our satellite payloads, we are now developing a control and mission planning capability that will monitor, manage and plan polar EHF communications missions. Like our satellite payloads, this control and planning capability is scalable and adaptable to user needs. We stand ready to meet DoD needs for hosted payloads with existing, proven and in-production systems that the government already trusts and deeply understands.
David Anhalt, Secretary of the Hosted Payload Alliance and Vice President, U.S. Government Solutions, Space Systems/Loral
As pointed out in the article, CHIRP has shown the way to mature and space-qualify new technologies as well as pioneer the use of inventive, nontraditional arrangements for acquiring commercial space goods and services to enhance U.S. military capabilities. What remains is to legitimize these commercially leveraged approaches as valid alternatives during the Air Forces early acquisition planning processes. Here is where industry can help SMC to gain access to new skill sets, data bases, and streamlined commercial business acquisition tradecraft, so these approaches can be deliberately considered during pre-Milestone A Analyses of Alternatives. I believe that robust interaction between commercial industry and SMC can overcome the remaining challenges for assessing the potential of commercially hosted payload concepts during the trade space characterization, architecture consideration, and concept characterization reviews leading up to major milestone acquisition decisions for the next generation of military space systems.
James Jordan, Treasurer of the Hosted Payload Alliance and Senior Manager, Raytheon, SAS
Industry should push for a more robust dialog with SMCs mission directorates to secure an understanding of the complete value proposition that hosted payloads could provide. The discussion must move away from the qualitative positions that hosted payloads could be a possible mission solution; and move in the direction of driving definitive quantitative analyses to support a specific mission capability within a broad mission context.