After taking a dip last year, Lockheed Martin Corp.’s space-related revenue resumed its climb in 2011, further widening the gap between the top-ranked company in the Space News annual Top 50 survey of space manufacturers and service providers and its industry peers.
Another notable feature of this year’s list is the absence of several prominent companies due in part to a consolidation movement that appears to be picking up steam.
There were no changes in the order of the top five of the list, but the revenues among the industry leaders are trending in different directions. Space-related revenue at No. 2 Boeing continued to decline, due in part to the retirement last year of NASA’s space shuttle, which also had a measurable impact on No. 17 United Technologies Corp. No. 3 EADS was flat, while the gap between No. 4 Northrop Grumman and No. 5 Raytheon narrowed, from close to $1 billion in 2010 to less than $500 million in 2011. Northrop Grumman suffered from last year’s cancellation of the U.S. Air Force’s Defense Weather Satellite System and also reported a decline in classified work, while Raytheon’s missile defense business remains robust. Raytheon is prime contractor on the Standard Missile 3 interceptor — variants of which feature prominently in the White House’s strategy for defending Europe — and also supplies radars for various programs including the Theater High Altitude Area Defense System.
The landscape of the space industry is changing, particularly in the United States, as companies reposition themselves for the long-anticipated decline in government spending. Gone from this year’s list, for example, are Hughes Network Systems, which was acquired in 2011 by EchoStar Corp., and Integral Systems, now a part of Kratos Defense and Security Solutions. Next year’s list will reflect more consolidation: Commercial satellite manufactureris being acquired by Canadian hardware maker MDA Corp.; commercial imaging satellite operators and are merging; Aerojet is acquiring U.S. liquid propulsion stalwart Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne from United Technologies Corp.; and United Technologies is buying Goodrich Corp. There’s no reason to assume there won’t be additional notable mergers or acquisitions during the remainder of 2011.
Information used to compile the Top 50 comes primarily from annual reports and company responses to the Space News survey form. Inclusion of companies that are not public or do not break out their space-related revenue depends on their willingness to provide the necessary data. As always, some companies decline to participate, although those that do and those that don’t vary from year to year. Among the companies that would figure prominently in the rankings had they chosen to participate are Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Honeywell, Exelis (formerly ITT) and CSC, all of the United States;and NEC-Toshiba Space Systems of Japan; and Khrunichev of Russia.
For some companies, the picture is incomplete. For propulsion provider Aerojet, for example, it is only possible to reliably estimate NASA and missile defense revenues. While it’s possible to estimate the company’s Air Force revenue, this figure lumps space-related business — Aerojet builds solid-fuel strap-on motors for the Atlas 5 rocket and maneuvering thrusters for satellites including the Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications system — with sales of tactical missiles and munitions, which do not qualify as space revenue.
For others, some nonspace-related revenue, such as strategic missiles, inevitably gets included, as do sales of services that are not related to engineering, such as satellite bandwidth. In the case of vertically integrated companies whose divisions do business with one another, some double counting is likely.
Finally, reliable revenue figures are not available for some of the world’s biggest space hardware manufacturers. These include state-owned China Aerospace Corp., India’s Antrix Corp., Russia’s Energia Corp. and Ukraine’s Yuzhnoye.