In-Space Missions will build Titania, a smallsat to test space-to-ground optical communications. Credit: DSTL

WASHINGTON — BAE Systems announced Sept. 14 that it will acquire In-Space Missions, a company that recently won a contract to build a British military satellite.

BAE Systems it will acquire In-Space Missions to enhance its abilities to develop small satellites for both government and commercial customers. The companies declined to disclose the value of the deal.

“The UK has an opportunity to be a global player in the growing low Earth orbit space market, as well as servicing its own sovereign defense and commercial needs,” Ben Hudson, chief technology officer at BAE Systems, said in a statement. “This acquisition will allow us to combine a range of space capabilities that help deliver information advantage, multi-domain operations and networking for our customers.”

In-Space Missions placed its first smallsat, Faraday Phoenix, in orbit on the SpaceX Transporter-2 rideshare mission in June. The company’s first Faraday satellite was lost in a Rocket Lab Electron launch failure in July 2020.

“This agreement means In-Space Missions will maintain its small company culture while leveraging the tremendous scale and new opportunities offered by BAE Systems,” Doug Liddle, chief executive of In-Space Missions, said in a statement. He told SpaceNews that the company, with more than 30 employees, will operate as a stand-alone business unit within BAE Applied Intelligence, the part of BAE Systems that includes other space activities, such as ground systems and manufacturing.

In-Space Missions won a contract valued at 9.5 million pounds ($13.2 million) from the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Aug. 9 to build an experimental smallsat called Titania. The satellite, scheduled for launch in 2023, will test space-to-ground laser communications.

The British government signaled its support for the deal. “This acquisition is a great vote of confidence in our thriving space sector,” said Science Minister Amanda Solloway in a statement. “By bringing on board the expertise of In-Space Missions, BAE Systems will help to expand the UK’s capabilities in low Earth orbit satellites, creating valuable export opportunities while keeping this country at the forefront of a new commercial space age.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...