WASHINGTON — U.S. defense contractor SAIC announced May 5 it will partner with European manufacturer GomSpace to develop small satellites for U.S. government agencies, commercial firms and universities.

The companies signed a memorandum of understanding April 18 at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

SAIC signed a similar agreement last year with small satellite startup Rogue Space Systems. 

Based in Reston, Virginia, SAIC is looking to grow its space business integrating commercial satellite buses and payloads at a newly expanded research-and-development facility in Charleston, South Carolina. 

The company is standing up a space systems development center within the 300,000 square foot facility in order to perform payload, cubesat, smallsat and launch rideshare integration.

Companies to offer space hardware, software and services

David Ray, senior vice president of SAIC’s space business unit, said in a statement May 5 that the agreement with GomSpace is “another important step in SAIC’s strategy to leverage its heritage and deep technical expertise in legacy space systems development into a leadership position in the new space economy.”

At the Charleston facility, SAIC, Rogue Space and GomSpace North America — a subsidiary of Denmark-based GomSpace Group AB —  will build cubesats and smallsats for space domain awareness, autonomous rendezvous and proximity operations, and in-orbit servicing, the company said. 

SAIC will be GomSpace’s U.S.-based licensed product distributor, services reseller, and space vehicle and mission integrator. 

In addition to fully integrated spacecraft, the companies plan to also offer software products, spacecraft components, in-orbit services and mission operations.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...