The U.S. Air Force awarded contracts to Hughes Network Systems of Germantown, Md., and U.S. Space LLC of Dulles, Va., to study potential commercial satellite communications architectures for the military, the service announced Feb. 16.

Hughes was awarded a $496,385 contract to study the use of unprotected commercial Ka-band satellite capacity for small, mobile military terminals, according to a posting on the Federal Business Opportunities website. Startup firm U.S. Space was awarded a $291,159 contract to study feasible acquisition approaches for military satellite communications services, it said.

The Air Force in January awarded similar study contracts to Intelsat General Corp. of Bethesda, Md., Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of Seal Beach, Calif., and Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.