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is essential to tackling these issues. These studies are the key to uncovering options to leverage commercial space capabilities to complement traditional dedicated missions and to assess how operational program requirements can be satisfied by commercial hosts. Innovative acquisition approaches, such as the Hosted Payload Solutions [HoPS] IDIQ, are another enabler to overcoming these hurdles. The HPO has carefully considered these individual challenges while developing the underlying HoPS acquisition strategy. In order to maximize hosting opportunities, this contract will synchronize the procurement process with commercial satellite procurement lead times. This will allow industry the chance to develop win-win business scenarios that mutually benefits them and the government. In addition, the HoPS contract provides the flexibility to support early payload design efforts and commit to flight processing later when the payload’s schedule for commercial satellite processing is assured. The HoPS contract is designed to allow disparate payload and commercial satellite schedules to be synchronized enhancing hosted payload flight opportunities and reduces schedule risk for both the government and the commercial host. Q: What will the Air Force be seeking in its IDIQ request for proposals on hosted payloads, expected this spring?

The magnitude of cost saving is uncertain, but de Ruiter cited published estimates that Intelsat saved the ADF 50 percent of the cost of a dedicated satellite for putting up an ultrahigh frequency payload. The Euroconsult report recommends governments conduct cost-benefit analyses of three alternatives: dedicated systems, hosted payloads and capacity leases.

Security Hurdle Security of information, operational control and data access is the primary hurdle to hosting for defense and security agencies, according to de Ruiter. “Although cost saving and schedule efficiency appeal to these organizations, they will not compromise assurance of infrastructure or distribution of payload data. If the physical payload and related data cannot be sufficiently protected, the intelligence community will likely choose dedicated satellites.” Another key challenge is aligning the schedules of commercial host and government customer. “Based on prior experience, it takes a minimum of five years for a defense agency to design and develop an instrument,” de Ruiter said. “The schedule for a commercial satellite is about three years.”

A: The HoPS IDIQ contract will award integration, launch and onorbit operations of government furnished payloads on commercial host spacecraft as a full, end-to-end package. The IDIQ implements a streamlined and reproducible acquisition structure to secure fleet hosting opportunities by leveraging robust commercial practices. This enabling contract will support a wide spectrum of payloads—from research and development to operational—fulfilling SMC’s vision for affordable and resilient capabilities and civil agency mission requirements. Q: Will or might the Hosted Payload Office of SMC represent other government agencies in seeking payload hosting or in designing standard contract formats for hosting? A: The HPO has already established and maintains working relationships with other government agencies including NASA and NOAA. These government entities have expressed a strong interest in a team approach to implementing hosted payloads. Once awarded, the HoPS IDIQ will be available to non-Department of Defense federal customers to pursue hosted payload opportunities.

So one or both sides would have to adjust its timeframe a bit. If intelligence agencies want commercial speed to orbit, they will have to become more nimble themselves. Complying with current U.S. procurement methods, however, might make staying on a schedule even tougher. “U.S. defense and security agencies highlighted negotiations over joint or independent control of the hosted payload as a key challenge,” de Ruiter noted. “Most defense and security agencies will insist on independent control of the payload and the output.” Lessons learned and best practices can at least moderate these challenges. For example, de Ruiter urged that only relatively mature payloads be considered for hosting. A catalog of both hosted payloads and potential host satellites would facilitate matches between the two and minimize delays in achieving cooperation. “Furthermore, the government will likely have to operate outside of standard processes to obtain budgetary and regulatory approvals,” he added. Early planning integration of hosted payloads and clearly defined technical interfaces would also improve compatibility. Finally, trust, goodwill and compromises by all have been necessary for successful past hosted payloads.

On the positive side, de Ruiter noted that the Air Force has taken the lead with the launch of CHIRP on SES-2 and the creation of its Hosted Payload Office. Euroconsult has also seen increased Pentagon interest, driven by budget pressures, in streamlining processes for hosted payloads. Partly due to stiff security requirements, a limited number of firms could participate in hosting intelligence payloads. Intelsat and SES have been most active in offering hosting to the Department of Defense, and de Ruiter predicted that the two companies will be the main future candidates for hosted intelligence payloads, due both to security and to the size and global coverage of their satellite fleets. Hosted payloads will also require what de Ruiter calls “a restricted matchmaking process.” Exact matches must be made on schedule, orbit location and security. “To facilitate matchmaking, NASA has started to closely monitor upcoming commercial satellites that could be paired with hosted payloads. This initiative could identify early hosted payload opportunities,” he said. O For more information, contact GIF Editor Harrison Donnelly at or search our online archives for related stories at

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