Hybrid companies trailblaze responsive, affordable, assured small satellites for National Security Space

By: Jason Kim, chief executive officer, Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing Company  | January 10, 2023

Millennium Space WFOV Render

Customers need responsive satellites across missions and orbits. With the threats we’re facing today, this is especially true for National Security Space and its augmented tactically responsive space needs. National space customers and operational- and tactical-level commanders need rapidly delivered small satellites that are agile, affordable and assured. A long-held misconception is you can only pick two of those three, but you can’t have them all.

We believe you can – with hybrid companies.

Hybrid companies pull together the best of both commercial and traditional aerospace industries. These companies are trailblazing the small satellite path for tactically responsive space needs with faster delivery, affordable overall costs and enhanced performance.

Here’s how:

Taking a page from the commercial playbook, hybrid companies are fast, use agile processes, and tech-refresh relentlessly. More importantly, hybrid companies know how to take advantage of the latest commercial technologies, quickly space qualifying and applying them to national security space missions. For example, the large-volume nature of the commercial industry drives piece-part component quality and reliability to the point that we’re able to use them in small satellites.

Companies like Millennium use readily available commercial software development practices, speeding up flight software development. As an example, we use the same operating system and coding software you’d find in the consumer electronics industry.

“hybrid company systems are reliable, with secure and tailored mission assurance”

Everything here represents not only savings in cost and time that are passed onto customers, but flexibility and rapid tech refresh to keep customers ahead of the threats.

The other half of the hybrid company equation is taking advantage of the space experience found in traditional aerospace. Traditional aerospace has closely partnered with customers for decades, which taught us our customers’ mission needs, how to partner with them and how to design, manufacture and operate to those needs. And, hybrid company systems are reliable, with secure and tailored mission assurance.

 

 

Critical to responsive space are launch and operations, areas in which hybrid companies shine. Hybrid companies know how to partner with traditional launch vehicle providers and new launch entrants, as well as commercial and traditional government ground providers. That provides greater flexibility to customers, giving them options to get systems on orbit and operating faster.

In the case of Millennium Space Systems, we have the benefit of being backed by The Boeing Company and a century of innovation – high-rate production capabilities, metal additive manufacturing, digital engineering, model-based systems engineering and technical fellows, to name a few. This innovation is critical to supporting the rapid build and tech refresh required of tactically responsive space.

“The hybrid approach is the future”

The hybrid approach also helps attracts talent from the commercial industry into aerospace and defense. Given the imperative of national security space and with today’s need for talent, we must consider all options to attract world-class engineers, technicians and functional experts.

The hybrid approach is the future. Building on the foundation of decades of space knowledge in traditional aerospace and combining it with best commercial practices will enable responsive space to meet ever-changing national security needs

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