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General Atomics’ acquisitions of smallsat companies bearing fruit

14 Jan 2019, 22:25 UTC
General Atomics’ acquisitions of smallsat companies bearing fruit
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WASHINGTON — Pentagon contractor General Atomics acquired two small satellite manufacturers over the past three years, seeking a piece of the action in the burgeoning smallsat market. Executives are touting recent Air Force and NASA contract wins as proof that the acquisitions are paying off.
General Atomics, based in San Diego, California, acquired Miltec, headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2016. In 2017, it bought the U.S. subsidiary of U.K.-based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, in Englewood, Colorado. Using the expertise from those two companies, it introduced a satellite bus called Orbital Test Bed that has a flexible design so it can compete to host different types of payloads.
“Everyone is trying to get their arms around the concept of hosted payloads and understand how to best utilize it,” Nick Bucci, vice president of missile defense and space systems at General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, told SpaceNews.
In a highly competitive market, the strategy for General Atomics was to make a modular satellite design that can be scaled from a tiny cubesat to a 1,000 kilogram platform, Bucci said.
The company has recently won three government contracts to launch payloads on its Orbital Test Bed (OTB).
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