York Space Systems, a U.S.-based satellite maker founded in 2012, is one of a wave of NewSpace firms to have recently bought another company. Credit: York Space

WASHINGTON — Satellite manufacturer York Space Systems announced June 7 it has acquired Emergent Space Technologies, a small business that develops flight software and engineering tools for space missions.

York, based in Denver, did not disclose the value of the acquisition. Emergent, founded in 2001, is based in Laurel, Maryland; and Austin, Texas.

The transaction has cleared regulatory reviews and the merger is now complete, said York’s CEO Dirk Wallinger.

“Emergent’s nationally recognized software engineering processes will enhance York’s mission solution designs for DoD, civil, and intelligence community programs,” Wallinger said. The acquisition gives York access to proprietary flight and ground software products that Emergent developed under government contracts with U.S. defense agencies, the intelligence community and NASA. 

“Their core capabilities and value are definitely the flight software, ground software simulation capabilities, along with guidance, navigation and control,” Wallinger said. 

The acquisition brings into York Space key technologies needed to build next-generation constellations, he said. “Ultimately, the future of satellite technology is all about software. So it made a ton of sense for them to join our team.”

Emergent in recent years won multiple contracts from the U.S. Space Force’s Space Development Agency for modeling, simulations and digital engineering. York is one of the agency’s prime contractors building satellites for SDA’s Transport Layer, a mesh communications network .

Among the critical technologies driving space systems today are for constellation management and constellation autonomy, which requires being able to quickly upgrade software, Wallinger said. “What we’re hearing across the board, from the government, for sure, but also on the commercial side is that we need to move more quickly and we need to have things in orbit.”

“With the rapid commoditization of satellite hardware, the country’s competitive advantage in space is in the mission software, smart networks, and edge processing,” said Charles Beames, chairman of York Space.

George Davis, CEO and founder of Emergent, said the company is “thrilled to take this next step” by merging with York. 

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...