Lockheed Martin has submitted several
proposals to the Pentagon’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) program office in response to broad area announcements that office issued in March.


Lockheed Martin’s proposals are intended to help the ORS office, which is located at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, get new capabilities to troops in the field as quickly as possible, according to a company news release dated April 23.


The broad agency announcements called for concepts that could help improve the military’s capabilities for spacecraft platform and payload technologies; a common satellite platform for low Earth orbit missions; and technology for launch and range systems, according to the news release.


The ORS effort is often most commonly associated with the development of small satellites and rockets that can be launched on short notice, though it also includes work on existing space and ground systems to offer improved capabilities to U.S. forces.


The Lockheed Martin news release notes that the company
has built more than
150 small satellites, including the XSS-11 autonomous rendezvous spacecraft, which was launched in April 2005 and received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Systems Award for use of new technologies to support the military.


Rick Ambrose, vice president and general manager for surveillance and navigation programs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., noted that the XSS-11 spacecraft, which weighed about 140 kilograms, is similar in size to the satellites initially envisioned for the ORS effort. However, significantly more capability can be provided in many cases with satellites in the 700- to 800-kilogram range, he said during an April 22 interview.


Ambrose declined to talk about the details of the company’s proposals until the ORS program office makes a decision on how it will proceed.

However, Ambrose noted that
many of the concepts associated with ORS, like use of common platforms and mature technology, can be applied to satellites acquired by the ORS program office as well as the standard spacecraft developed by the U.S. Air Force in order to help avoid the cost overruns that have plagued space programs in recent years. At the same time, attempting to apply a “one-size-fits-all” approach to the entire space portfolio is likely a recipe for more problems, he said.