News from Global Milsatcom | Internal Lockheed “Space Enterprise Resilience Study” Pours Cold Water on Disaggregation

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LONDON — Lockheed Martin Space Systems has concluded that disaggregation of space assets to render them less vulnerable to attack is not all it is cracked up to be and that one way to cut space program costs is to limit government attendance at program reviews to two rental cars.

In an internal Space Enterprise Resilience Study conducted by Lockheed’s Newtown, Pa.-based operation, the company — which is the U.S. Defense Department’s largest space-hardware contractor — attempted to measure space programs by how vulnerable they were to different types of threats.

In addition to the usual considerations of cyberattack and threats to in-orbit hardware, the company looked at what other Achilles’ heels turned up in the form of drivers of cost increases. The more Achilles’ heels, the lower the program was scored.

“The space segment is not the cost driver,” said Justin Keller, director of advanced programs in the company’s military space systems division.

Keller made his remarks here Nov. 6 during the Global Milsatcom conference organized by SMi Group.

Ground network hubs and gateways, mission control facilities and procurement methods were highlighted as areas that can drive up system costs even if the space infrastructure itself is well within budget.

Two Rental Cars

With respect to procurement methods, Keller said one government space program performed under a fixed-price contract showed how a common-sense approach to design review oversight could save money.

Without naming the program, Keller said Lockheed had stipulated in the contract that government program managers could attend program milestone reviews only if they did so in a maximum of two rental cars.

“This kept costs and attendance down,” Keller said.

Satellite fleet operator SES of Luxembourg has evoked the same issue in proposing that the U.S. Defense Department place small payloads on commercial telecommunications satellites — but only if they agree to limit the number of people attending milestone reviews.

U.S. Defense Department managers have cited disaggregation of space assets — meaning multiple space platforms carrying individual sensors, rather than a single platform with many sensors — as one way to increase their resilience to attack.

Keller said Lockheed’s study concluded that disaggregation only works if it is done in far greater numbers than what is commonly viewed as necessary. “A lot of proposed disaggregation systems are not sufficiently numerous to provide significant payoff,” Keller said.

The study used financial and system-security criteria in measuring the number of Achilles’ heels in a given system, he said. He said the study stipulated that it was possible to launch low-cost satellites.


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