Lockheed Martin looks to private entities to improve its military space business

A contract for a corporation with $65 billion in yearly revenue to build 10 satellites for the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency for $187.5 million is thin. But, executives added, Lockheed Martin observes it as an important win because it prepares the firm for an evolving DoD space industry that needs access to the latest business developments. Lockheed Martin, as well as York Space Systems, will also construct ten satellites for Transport Layer mesh network of the Space Development Agency which will be able to offer military users with global high-speed broadband. The transport layer is a break from the norm relative to conventional big-ticket satellite programs. In low-Earth orbit, it utilizes low-priced commoditized spacecraft to create a wide constellation of the interconnected satellites.

During a third-quarter conference call with the analysts last month, Jim Taiclet, who is the Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Officer pointed out the Space Development Agency deal as a “real breakthrough” that offers the organization an early entrance into the potential internet space of the Pentagon. “This is going to be a competitive space,” Taiclet, a former telecommunications executive, said. “And in front of it, we want to get out there.” 

Kay Sears who serves as a vice president as well as the general manager of the Lockheed Martin Space’s military division, said one of the primary choices that aided Lockheed Martin secure the Transport Layer deal was partnering with commercial companies. Sears went on to say that they were surprised that they had emerged as the winner. Also, she said that because of their strategy of partnering with other firms and taking in non-traditional investors, which was the key reason they were selected. 

“As a traditional defense contractor, we believe one of our responsibilities is to look broadly at the supply base and ensure that we understand the technologies that other companies bring to programs and embed them,” Sears said. “This was a key component of the Transport Layer strategy to have a strong group of companies to demonstrate key demonstrations.”

Partners with Lockheed Martin include Tyvak Nano-Satellite Solutions, a corporation directly invested in by Lockheed Martin, and Telesat U.S. Networks, a Canadian satellite provider Telesat subsidiary which plans to develop a 298-satellite low-orbit broadband constellation. A small company, Innoflight supplies the mission computer as well as payload processor.

A main attribute of Transport Layer is that the data can be transmitted via the optical links from satellite to satellite without depending on ground stations in places where opponents could jam the signals or even hack into systems.

Because of its strategic importance, Sears said, Lockheed Martin needed to be part of this initiative, as the network would be used to link military command centers, weapon systems, and platforms throughout the sea, ground, air, and space realms, a term is referred as joint all-domain command as well as control.

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