Surrey Blog

The Smallsat and Hosted Payload Phenomenon, Changing the Face of the Satellite Industry

Surrey has been at the forefront of pioneering small satellite and hosted payload solutions for three decades, and while hosted payloads and smallsats offer different trade-offs, they both offer attributes mission planners are looking for: mission flexibility, lower costs, less risk, faster time to orbit, and reduced operational and technical complexity.
Moderator Theresa Beech, Panelists Carolyn Belle, Jan King, John Paffett, and Ron Squires
Both of these mission approaches have become increasingly important during recent years, driven by in-orbit systems—such as Surrey’s—which are demonstrating firsthand the reliability and operational utility of small satellite technology.

As sponsor and exhibitor, we attended the Hosted Payload and Smallsat Summit, October 15, 2014, at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington, DC. This conference is dedicated to hosted payload and small satellite opportunities,  coming a few months after Surrey’s Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) IDIQ contract awards from the USAF’s SMC. Surrey US CEO John Paffett was pleased to be invited to participate in one of the Summit’s panel sessions.

Entitled “Return-on-Innovation is the new ROI: Are Hosted Payload and Smallsats Opening the Door to New Space-Based Economies?”—the session explored how a wide range of market and technology-driven factors are leading to alternative business models. Moderated by Theresa Beech, CEO and president of MetiSpace Technologies Inc., the panelists included representatives from long-established companies, recent startups, and data applications firms: Carolyn Belle, analyst at NSR USA; Ron Squires, director of Global Comms and Aerospace Products Business Development, Space Systems Business Unit, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems; and Jan King, vice president of Space Engineering, Dauria Aerospace.

Each of the participants brought a different perspective to the discussions about the impact of industry innovations on the satellite industry.

In his opening introduction Paffett explained that finding innovative ways to use small satellites to deliver value and increase access to space has been at the heart of Surrey’s mission for over thirty years. Whether through hosting payloads or flying dedicated missions for its customers, the return on investment on hosted payloads and smallsats goes beyond the benefits of lower-cost access to space.

Enabling sustainability of space architectures is an important benefit of using small satellites and hosted payloads. Establishing the right price/performance point to close the business case to get the satellite to orbit is no longer sufficient; the systems need to generate enough revenue (or manage constrained program budgets effectively) to allow the growth, expansion, and refresh of these systems to ensure data continuity and coverage.

Another interesting question posed to each panelist was, “What does innovation mean to you?” John responded that innovation at Surrey occurs at all levels—that it’s not just about using the new technology as an innovation enabler—new approaches to the way that programs are executed are also necessary. A lot of Surrey’s new approaches are driven by a diverse customer base; some customers have budget constraints which challenge Surrey to come up with novel solutions to meet their mission needs. Other customers have a space-data-based service that they want to provide and just happen to need a satellite to do it. In this case, the customers aren’t interested in the satellite technology—they’re simply driven to find the best value end-to-end infrastructure to accomplish the mission.

Our view is that while small satellites and hosted payloads may be the most appropriate solution for some missions, they won’t be the solution for all missions. Some programs will necessarily require a more traditional, large satellite approach. Ultimately, as new uses, applications, and needs for space-based data start to increase, the overall market for satellite systems—big and small dedicated missions and hosted payload missions—is set to grow in the coming years.


15 October 20140 Comments1 Comment

Back to Blog

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.