AIA Presents Space Cost Reduction Paper

AIA  hosted in March a panel discussion and open forum with industry and government representatives on AIA’s new space report, Easing the Burden—Reducing the Cost of National Security Space Capabilities. AIA Vice President of Space Systems, Frank Slazer, moderated a lively discussion featuring the following panelists:

  • Keith Robertson, National Reconnaissance Office
  • Jeff Trauberman, Vice President, Space, Intelligence and Missile Defense, Boeing
  • David Barnhart, Phoenix Program Manager, U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • Rick Skinner, Director, Business Development, SATCOM, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

The speakers addressed the development of government and industry partnerships in a changing cost environment, with emphasis on new technologies that are making satellite development more cost effective. Trauberman described the upcoming Boeing 702 Satellite Product Line, an all-electric satellite to launch in 2015. The Boeing 702 uses electric thrusters, eliminating the need for chemical propulsion. Similarly, Barnhart described DARPA’s robotics experiments to develop the technology needed to reconstruct old satellites while in orbit. This program, called “Phoenix,” will conceivably lead planners to rethink the morphology and evolution of satellites.

The panelists agreed that the whole cost reduction process is not a “one size fits all” model for satellite development and evolution. When asked what will make the policies and requirements move faster, discussants focused on the need for stable funding to enable both the government and private sector to continue their cost-reduction partnerships. The panel members expressed confidence that new cost-reduction approaches can help create more affordable satellite systems without compromising quality, security, and technology advancement.