It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
U.S. government spending on defense and space is coming under pressure, but some technology companies are finding ways to find new business by providing data services to defense and civil agencies.
Companies such as Iridium Communications Inc, a mobile satellite service provider, want to leverage their technical know-how to meet emerging needs.
In March, Iridium won a $13.4 million Defense Department contract to enhance its Netted Iridium satellite communication system, which powers tactical radios used by more than 5,600 U.S. soldiers. The radios on the Iridium network can transmit voice or data signals to and from multiple users simultaneously via satellite.
The company is part of an alliance that is urging the government to work with private industry to send sensors and other equipment into space on satellites already built for commercial use. Such arrangements could be a way for government agencies to gain space-based data at a fraction of the cost of establishing proprietary satellites.
"There's going to be a lot of pressure over the next couple of years, which is why we've been talking about hosted payloads being so important," Iridium CEO Matt Desch said in an interview. "It's a cheaper, smarter way of doing things."
Iridium said its next-generation satellite system will enable it to offer more data services. Iridium NEXT, which will include 66 operational satellites and six spare satellites in low Earth orbit, is due to be up and operational starting in 2015. The company has reserved space on each satellite for third-party payloads.
While senior U.S. military officials saw the value of so-called hosted payloads on commercial satellites, Desch said, current budget pressures and generally slow decision-making were hindrances to greater government involvement.
Officials "are frustrated in their organization's ability to react quickly," Desch said.
want to leverage their technical know-how to meet emerging needs.