As an industry snapshot there’s no better grouping of experts at this year’s Satellite 2018 show in Washington than those representing six major satellite manufacturers.
While a record low number of commercial satellites ordered last year (just 7) would normally have these panellists wringing their hands in despair, the mood was reasonably upbeat. This was helped by a compensating number of business inquiries – and even orders – for MEO and LEO craft, and in some case extremely large numbers.
Richard Ambrose, EVP/space systems at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, told delegates that in his case it was the combination of Geo/Meo/Leo business that was helping to keep businesses busy.
Dario Zamarian, group president at Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), was happy that his company had won its fair share of orders (not least the giant Jupiter-3 Ultra High Density craft for Hughes Network Systems) that will be marketed as EchoStar-24, and doubles the mount of Hughes’ Ka-band capacity over the Americas.
“We all wish there were more GEOs, but then there’s things like [the mPower satellites] that we were fortunately to partner with next year,” said Chris Johnson, president/Boeing’s space division. The 7 mPower craft will operate at MEO heights for SES Networks and its O3b division.
Orbital-ATK’s Frank Culbertson Jr. (president/space systems) told delegates that some operators were still ordering traditional satellites, but there was a gradual shift taking place towards newer higher-technology satellites.