COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Satellite ground system provider GMV of Madrid has spun off its U.S. government business to the segment’s senior managers, the owners of the now-independent company announced here April 9.

Still headquartered in Rockville, Md., the former GMV USA has been renamed MetiSpace Technologies Inc., said Theresa Beech, who is now the company’s majority owner as well as its chief executive. Terms of the sale, which closed April 5, were not disclosed. Beech and Gonzalo Garcia, who have been with the company since its inception in 2004, will lead MetiSpace along with Ron Luzier, the co-founder of Swales Aerospace, who joined in 2010.

MetiSpace will continue as the exclusive U.S. reseller of the Spanish parent’s ground systems software for government satellites, Beech said here during a press conference at the 29th National Space Symposium. MetiSpace will retain its U.S. government contracts, but its commercial satellite contracts will all be spun back to the former parent company.

Beech would not say how long that might take. She estimated the company now called MetiSpace contributed to between 42 percent and 45 percent of commercial telecommunications satellites launched over the last two or three years.

Despite some turbulence in that market, “our market share has stayed about the same,” Beech said.

Now that MetiSpace is under U.S. ownership, the company will be better suited to go after U.S. national security and intelligence business — something that was difficult, if not impossible, to do under Spanish ownership.

Before the sale, Luzier had been GMV USA’s lead outside board director — one of three such people the company had to have onboard if it wanted to do business with U.S. national security customers.

“I think there was a perception among the customer base that, ‘Well, they have all the security protocols in place, but it’s still a foreign-owned company,’” said Luzier, now MetiSpace’s executive vice president.

“As a foreign-owned company, GMV had to put in what’s called a special security agreement to be the firewall between the Spanish ownership and the U.S. subsidiary,” Luzier said at the press conference. “That’s one of the barriers that we’re removing with this.”

Besides making a grab for more U.S. national security business, GMV also plans to go after U.S. government set-asides for woman-owned and small businesses.

“When you’re dealing with the U.S. government, being a small, woman-owned business is a plus,” Beech said.

With the commercial satellite business being handed back to the parent company, Beech said MetiSpace will bulk up its research and development activities and start competing for Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants from the U.S. government. The company also plans to expand its line of in-house engineering services.

Beech would not comment about the circumstances that led GMV to spin off its U.S. business, but another MetiSpace executive said the move was a surprise.

“It was kind of unexpected,” said Garcia, MetiSpace’s chief operating officer. “But when they offered it to us, it was an opportunity we could not let go.”

In addition to commercial satellites, MetiSpace ground systems software is also used by NASA. Among the NASA missions using the company’s ground support services are the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the recently launched Landsat Data Continuity Mission and the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite constellation used to communicate with science spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

Dan Leone is the NASA reporter for SpaceNews, where he also covers other civilian-run U.S. government space programs and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He joined SpaceNews in 2011.Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications...