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Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Boeing Entity Aims To Grow Space Services Business

PARIS — Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems has created a new unit to market commercial satellite services to the U.S. government and other satellite users.
The BSIS entity is intended to enable the company to take advantage of hot government demand around the world for satellite services, especially for communications, where demand is outstripping supply, says Craig Cooning, BSIS vice president and general manager. It will employ 30-40 people and eventually will be headquartered in Washington to be near its target customer base.
The move is the outgrowth of a major expansion of Boeing’s commercial satellite business, which now represents 18% of overall satellite sales, Cooning said Feb. 22 from the company’s El Segundo, Calif., facility. The company has sold nine commercial spacecraft in the past 18 months, including four midsize 702MP spacecraft to Intelsat, three big 702HPs to Inmarsat and two 702HPs to the Mexican government.
Two of the Intelsat spacecraft and all three of the Inmarsat satellites will carry hosted payloads, which will be the fulcrum point of service activity. One of the two Intelsat UHF payloads is under contract to the Australian government and the other is being finalized with the U.S. Navy, according to Intelsat. Utilization of the three Inmarsat Ka-band payloads is still in discussion.
But new activity also could comprise other kinds of business, including capacity pre-purchase agreements such as one for Ka-band that was concluded with Inmarsat as part of the satellite supply deal, and the purchase of capacity without a launch customer, says Steve O’Neil, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International. A follow-on deal with Inmarsat to market L-band capacity to the U.S. government is expected to be signed in the coming weeks.
And although the initial focus will be on meeting U.S. Defense Department communications needs, the BSIS unit also will look at the needs of other government agencies, international governments and non-communications requirements, including remote sensing opportunities, says Jim Mitchell, vice president for commercial services. Iridium, for instance, is looking for customers for hosted payloads on some of the satellites in its 66-spacecraft second-generation constellation, and recently signed up Orbital Sciences Corp. to market some of them (Aerospace DAILY, Feb. 14).

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