Air Force adds Airbus to hosted payloads contract

The company will compete to host Air Force communications on commercial satellites.

The Air Force’s Hosted Payloads Solutions program, or HoPS, continues to grow, with Airbus Defense and Space joining the list of vendors eligible to bid on the program.

The company was awarded a HoPS contract that would allow Airbus to submit proposals for hosted payloads, potentially allowing the company to provide services for hosting Air Force communications on commercial satellites, according to a company release.

Hosted payloads, or military assets that are attached to commercial satellites, are intended to reduce the costs of sending military satellites into space. These payloads operate independently of the satellites they are mounted on, but take advantage of the satellite’s power supplies and other systems.

"This is a great opportunity for Airbus Defense and Space to leverage its expertise in support of critical U.S. space missions,” said Ed Spitler, Airbus Defense and Space US Government satellite communications unit president, in the release.

"Over the past two decades, Airbus Defense and Space has facilitated more than 30 hosted payload programs worldwide and for U.S. government organizations, including the Federal Aviation Authority, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, National Research Laboratories and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

The HoPS contract is designed to provide quick access to commercial satellite providers, allowing the government to choose hosts from a pre-selected pool of candidates.

In addition to Airbus Defense and Space, 14 other companies were awarded a spot on the contract earlier this year. Those companies: Astrium Services Government, Harris Government Communications Systems Business Unit, Space Systems Loral, Millennium Engineering & Integration, Surrey Satellite Technology, Orbital Sciences, Boeing, ExoTerra Resource, Lockheed Martin, Merging Excellence and Innovation Tech, ViviSat, Intelsat, SES Government Solutions, and Eutelsat America.

The firm fixed-price indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract has a five-year ordering period with a maximum potential value of $495 million. All work under the contract is scheduled to be completed by Jan. 31, 2029.

Industry groups have long pushed for hosted payloads, arguing that piggybacking payloads would result in shorter development times and lower costs as compared to making a stand-alone satellite. Having assets on multiple platforms also results in a more resilient architecture and increased access to space, according to industry experts.