The U.S. Defense Department submitted a letter to American companies on behalf of the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) to provide information on investments in space mobility and logistics. The response from the companies is supposed to be submitted by 15 January 2021, but the military has already shown interest in an incredibly large variety of technologies.
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Many analysts have analyzed the budget of the newly formed U.S. space forces. There’s money and priorities in the military. The heads of new departments are now sharing their views on ways of achieving these targets.
Space tugs for transporting satellites between orbits, as well as refueling and servicing spacecraft outside the Earth, are among the new directions listed in the proposal. Northrop Grumman (NOC), which unveiled a repair satellite in 2019, is already successfully testing this technology.
SMC’s main competencies are Space Mobility and Logistics. The Pentagon currently has two space launch operators, with a third being able to attach. But SMC management said that for the next tender for the procurement of launch services in 2024, a market analysis is being conducted. The suborbital transportation of people and cargo can be one of the most important fields. SpaceX, with its super-heavy rocket and a ship capable of carrying 100 tons of cargo, announced the prospect of developing such a transport system. As a fast intercontinental transport, a suborbital aircraft of Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (SPCE) can also be used. The urgent transfer of people and cargo to remote air bases through government orders may even become a more relevant business field for Virgin than sub-orbital tourism at high risk.
It is too early to talk about concrete orders, but the announcement of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Procurement Will Roper, who called suborbital transport an interesting prospect, even for special operations forces, could be a good signal for investors.
Northrop Grumman (NOC) stock was stable (+0.17%) on Tuesday at $298.51, while Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (SPCE) was down by 7.4% to $24.51.