MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Boeing and Millennium Space Systems executives are convinced that the whole created by the 2018 merger of the two companies has proven greater than the sum of its parts.
“There’s a handful of programs that we won that we would not have been able to win by ourselves and Boeing wouldn’t have been able to win by themselves,” Millennium CEO Jason Kim said Feb. 9 at the SmallSat Symposium here. “We’re executing on those programs and there’s more to come.”
Kim and Ryan Reid, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International, declined to offer program examples, which means that they are probably in the national security space realm where Millennium is focused.
Millennium and Firefly Space Transport Services won contracts from the U.S. Space Systems Command in 2022 to perform a Tactically Responsive Space mission, part of a U.S. Space Force effort to speed up the timeline for launching payloads. Millennium and Raytheon Technologies are developing satellites for a U.S. Space Force missile-warning constellation. In November, Millennium’s Tetra-1 small satellite launched to geostationary orbit to test new Space Force missions.
More than four years after Boeing completed its acquisition of Millennium, industry observers have generally praised the merger for allowing Millennium to retain some of its unique attributes.
“What makes Millennium unique is the entrepreneurial spirit,” Kim said in a recent interview. “It’s a culture of speed. It’s in our DNA. Millennium combines the best of commercial and traditional aerospace to deliver high performance small satellites faster and more affordably.”
Boeing approached the acquisition of Millennium carefully.
“What made Millennium special was their ability to rapidly deliver to customers satellites in a range of sizes and orbits that we didn’t have,” Michelle Parker, Boeing Defense, Space and Security vice president for Space Mission Systems, said in a recent interview. “We love that entrepreneurial spirit. It really wouldn’t do us much good to acquire them and then crush that spirit. We were very thoughtful about that.”
Since the acquisition, Millennium has shared with Boeing its expertise in rapid prototyping.
“Like commercial companies, we use agile processes and we tech refresh our products relentlessly,” Kim said. “We also use commercial software development practices and the latest commercial dual-use technologies.”
Boeing has helped Millennium with model-based engineering, additive manufacturing and establishing a factory to produce small satellites.
For example, Boeing has helped Millennium qualify a printed metal satellite bus that offers cost, time and mass savings.
“That’s one technology that I’m really excited about working with Ryan and with the rest of Boeing on,” Kim said.