Boeing, Lockheed Renew Focus on Commercial Satellites

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PARIS — Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which have been only occasional participants in the commercial satellite manufacturing market in recent years, delivered the same message to the commercial satellite operators during the World Satellite Business Week held Sept. 7-10 in
Paris
: We’re back.

Both companies said have been able to reduce their construction costs and tailor their satellite designs, making for a better fit with the commercial sector.

“A lot of people have wondered about Lockheed Martin: Are they playing in the commercial business or not?” said Roy Kampfer, director of business development at Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems of Newtown, Pa. “The answer is that we are, and that we see more opportunities in this sphere in space in the future.”

Kampfer said Sept. 7 that Lockheed Martin’s current satellite production is 70 percent governmental and 30 percent commercial. But as it has digested the nonrecurring-engineering costs associated with new gear
some of these costs are covered




by the
U.S.
government




satellite programs
the company is able to offer higher-power versions of its A2100 platform at commercially competitive prices. “There will be some increase in our commercial share going forward,” he said.

Kampfer said Lockheed Martin has been able to reduce its




production time to 23 months, on average, for the last six commercial telecommunications satellites it has delivered.

In a Sept. 8 press briefing, Boeing Satellite Systems officials said the company’s new 702B satellite platform, which is being inaugurated by satellite fleet operator Intelsat in a four-satellite order, is tailored to the commercial market.

Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, which includes the company’s satellite division, said the 702B is the result of four years of work at Boeing to design a product that could compete on the global market while remaining profitable for Boeing.

“After four years of listening to customers and building a prototype, the 702B re-establishes us in the FSS-BSS market,” Cooning said in a Sept. 9 address to the conference, referring to the fixed satellite and broadcast satellite services markets.



In recent years, while maintaining




the availability of its 601 and 702 product lines




 for commercial customers, Boeing




has focused mainly on specialized customer sets such as the market for large spacecraft for mobile applications. It has built the




satellites for mobile satellite services provider Thuraya Telecommunications Co. of Abu Dhabi,
United Arab Emirates
, and is building two large mobile-services spacecraft for SkyTerra Communications of Reston, Va.

Cooning said Boeing is targeting two or three commercial




 orders per year for the 702B satellite platform.

Boeing officials said the company is reviewing seven requests for proposals from satellite operators, although it remains doubtful that Boeing will present a formal bid on all of them.