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payload assemblers are eager to explore the possibilities. The Air Force has started to use hosted payloads and is apparently preparing to do so systematically. Analysts say that service may play a critical role in bringing together private capabilities with federal needs, including intelligence needs. Practical Efficiencies The reason for this mutual movement toward cooperation is simple and pressing: Satellite launches are too expensive for any organization, public or private, to give up practical efficiencies. “Just as we find with our defense customers, hosted payloads can certainly offer time and cost benefits for intelligence missions,” said Nicole Robinson, vice chair of the Hosted Payload Alliance (HPA) and marketing vice president for SES Government Solutions. “Intelligence agencies can capitalize on the lessons learned by defense missions that have been suitable for hosted payloads, including missile warning, navigation, space situational awareness and earth monitoring, to name a few.” Robinson cited the Air Force’s Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP), launched in 2011 on an SES satellite, as an example of successful hosting and one perhaps similar to an intelligence project. “The Air Force wanted to test a new type of infrared staring sensor from geoorbit. They were able to satisfy 85 percent of their test objectives by using a commercially hosted payload at 15 percent of the cost of building and operating a government satellite.” From the start of CHIRP collaboration to orbit was only 36 months. “Usually government takes a lot longer,” she said. Indeed, timely launches are one strong advantage of commercial launches. “We put up three to four satellites every year, and with a primary commercial mission we cannot be late or we do not get paid,” Robinson noted. There are hurdles to hosting sensitive intelligence payloads, she acknowledged, but they can be overcome. “Several satellite operating companies have the proper clearance levels for individuals and for facilities,” she added. SES and Intelsat are two global commercial satellite firms that are based in other countries, but have U.S. corporate subsidiaries. A third, Eutelsat, has just set up a U.S. subsidiary. Other major players in the satellite supply chain, such as Lockheed

Martin, Boeing or SAIC, are often U.S.-based may not be as accustomed to working with defense manufacturers and integrators. commercial space firms. “Hosted payloads SES has been hosting commercial payoffer a significant opportunity for the govloads for decades, and has done hosting ernment to save money, but many governfor non-U.S. governments, for example for ment users are not well-versed in using European air navigation service providers. commercial hosted payloads. Government Intelsat hosted a payload for the Australian agencies want to maintain control of the Defence Force (ADF). “There could even be mission because of their unique requireothers, but they would not be reported if ments and security concerns,” he said. they were classified,” Robinson said. Clearly, government and industry will Of course, the launch host and hosted have to collaborate and engage in give and payload must have similar objectives in take with each other to make recent hosted terms of the timing sought and position in payloads a success. Thoma argues that space desired. “Commercial satellites perintelligence agencies will have to be flexiform many types of missions,” Robinson ble, while the government may have to alter noted. “It is reasonable to think that there procurement processes to exploit hosted may be an orbital position payloads. and a launch schedule of One major example of priinterest to the intellivate hosting of public payloads gence community.” involves Thoma’s own firm, a But would a comjoint venture between Iridium mercial satellite stay in and Nav Canada that plans to the position desirable for put air-traffic surveillance payintelligence collection? loads in orbit. Between 2015 and “On rare occasions, com2017, Iridium will launch 66 satmercial operators change ellites and six in-orbit spares as geosynchronous orbital a part of Iridium Next, the comDon Thoma positions due to changes pany’s next-generation satellite in the business climate. constellation. But typically they are stationary,” Robinson Iridium found the best hosting match said. In contrast, low-earth-orbit satellites with Aireon. As a partner, Nav Canada will move constantly with respect to the earth. invest $150 million to help create a system “It’s difficult to find public informathat will provide monitoring service to the tion on hosted payloads for intelligence purworld’s air-traffic control organizations by poses,” acknowledged Don Thoma, a former using the economy and reliability of comchairman of HPA and president and chief mercial hosted payloads. executive officer of Aireon, a new company But economy and reliability did not that is developing the world’s first satellitecome easy, Thoma pointed out. “Over the based global air traffic surveillance system. last 30 years, commercial satellite operaHowever, imagery from commertors have developed a well-defined set of cially launched sensors has been purprocurement and risk-management prochased by National Geospatial-Intelligence cesses. We fix the design early and do not Agency and other federal agencies. And the change it. That keeps cost low, and we stay National Reconnaissance Office has had a on schedule.” CubeSat ride-sharing program technology Janet Nickloy, current HPA chairperdemonstration. son and director of Space Communication Systems Business Development at Harris, also believes hosted payloads have advanHigher Level Collaboration tages for intelligence collection and should be considered. Hosted payloads would essentially take Hosting means that the secondary paythese kinds of collaboration to a higher level. load shares satellite resources, such as “I think hosted payloads will be part of govthe power and telemetry, staying physiernment space programs going forward,” cally attached to the satellite while in orbit. Thoma predicted. “The cost to launch a dediWhen a customer puts another satellite cated space mission is astronomical, and the and bus on a launch vehicle, this is called government has to think about alternatives ride sharing and does not bring all the ecofor launches they can’t afford on their own.” nomic gains of hosted payloads, but does Thoma does see a particular challenge provide more flexibility. for the intelligence community because it GIF 11.3 | 7