Parsons acquires Polaris Alpha, seeks bigger footprint in defense, space, intelligence

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“With the acquisition of Polaris Alpha, our space portfolio becomes much stronger,” said Carey Smith, president of Parsons’ federal business unit.

WASHINGTON — Parsons, a government contractor with more than $3 billion in annual revenues, announced it has acquired Polaris Alpha, a defense and intelligence technology firm with a growing business in space, artificial intelligence, command and control and cybersecurity.

With more than 14,000 employees, Parsons is known for engineering, construction and infrastructure. Polaris Alpha has a workforce of 1,300, nearly 90 percent with security clearances. The acquisition fits into Parsons’ strategy to expand its high-tech government services business, particularly in space, intelligence and cybersecurity.

“With the acquisition of Polaris Alpha, our space portfolio becomes much stronger,” Carey Smith, president of Parsons’ federal business unit, told SpaceNews.

Parsons bought Polaris Alpha from private equity firm Arlington Capital Partners, the company announced May 21. As a privately held company, it does not disclose the value of its corporate acquisitions. Polaris Alpha will become part of Parsons’ federal business unit.

The combination makes Parsons a more competitive player in the space and defense markets, Smith said. She noted the company’s deep roots as a Pentagon and Missile Defense Agency contractor, and Polaris Alpha’s expertise in cutting-edge intelligence and information technologies.

“Together we’re going to have quite a bit of clout,” Jay Jesse, president of Polaris Alpha told SpaceNews. There are emerging opportunities as the military and the intelligence community tackle new challenges in space, he said. “Customers want solutions. A new innovative company doesn’t have to be a 20-person shop. It can be a large organization that has put together the right pieces and provides different kinds of thinking.”

Smith said Parsons will be pursuing more Air Force and NASA work, especially in small satellite prototyping and engineering development. “In space, customers are really looking for innovation, for new faces. The space business is changing,” she said. “Customers have a need for space resiliency and program cost reduction. They want small satellites in a disaggregated architecture. That’s an area where we play quite well.”

A regulatory review of the acquisition is expected to be completed next week. Once Polaris Alpha officially comes under Parsons’ ownership on June 1, Smith said, the company projects its revenues from government work will increase from one-third to one-half of the corporation’s overall revenues. She predicts the growth will come from defense, intelligence, cybersecurity and space.

One of Parsons’ largest defense contracts is for systems engineering and technical advice to the Missile Defense Agency. More than 1,000 employees work in contractor-support roles for MDA at various locations. Parsons also is a prime contractor of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The acquisition of Polaris Alpha also aims to boost Parsons’ footprint in artificial intelligence, signals intelligence, data analytics, electromagnetic warfare, space situational awareness, and multi-domain command and control.