Sunday, September 24, 2023

Loft Orbital creates new subsidiary for government and defense 

WASHINGTON — Space infrastructure startup Loft Orbital has formed a new subsidiary, Loft Federal, focused on the U.S. national security market, the company announced Feb. 10.

In a social media post, Loft Orbital said the “creation of this new entity enables us to maintain our culture and expand our work and partnership with the federal government.”

The company builds “condosats,” or satellites carrying payloads from multiple customers that want to avoid the hassle and expense of owning satellites.

Loft Orbital is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and has operations in Toulouse, France. The company said it is actively recruiting workers for Loft Federal, based in Golden, Colorado.

Loft Orbital vice president John Eterno was named general manager of Loft Federal. 

Two years ago Loft Orbital was selected to build a satellite for a U.S. military experiment in low Earth orbit, and has won a small business research contract for on-orbit edge-computing.

Companies in this so-called “space as a service” sector of the industry are eyeing opportunities as the Space Force looks to increase reliance on commercial services. 

The Space Systems Command, for example, is considering a new initiative known as “Commercial Augmentation Space Reserve” where the government would sign agreements with suppliers of commercial satellites to fill an urgent demand during a crisis, similar to the arrangement DoD has with airlines under the Civil Reserve Air Fleet.

Space Force officials said commercial augmentation contracts are an area of growing interest, particularly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the central role that commercial satellites have played in that conflict.

In a Feb. 9 speech at the Commercial Space Transportation Conference, Chirag Parikh, executive secretary of the National Space Council, endorsed the idea of integrating commercial capabilities into military plans for space operations “in crisis and conflict.”

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