Defense and aerospace contractor BAE Systems (LON: BA) said it “continues to identify” opportunities for M&A in commercial space on the heels of its $17.9 million acquisition of mission specialist In-Space Missions on Sept. 10.
U.K.-based BAE aims to grow its future offerings in satellite communications and Earth observation, a spokesperson told Connectivity Business. The acquisition allows the company to offer the market “complete satellites,” complementing its existing capabilities in military-grade and commercial space. The commercial agreement is structured so that further payments could be made to In-Space Missions “over the coming years” if it meets certain growth targets. However, those and other details of the transaction are confidential.
The acquisition is part of BAE Systems’ strategy to develop technologies, pursuing bolt-on acquisitions where they complement existing capabilities and provide an opportunity to accelerate technology development in key areas, according to the announcement.
BAE’s U.S. business has delivered radiation-hardened payloads, subsystems and components, and it also supports ground systems processing and analytics markets. In its U.K. home turf, BAE makes tracking and telemetry equipment. This includes highly secure software-defined radios, which the spokesperson called a technology set “to transform satellite capability in the coming years.”
In-Space Missions continuity
Doug Liddle will be staying on as CEO of U.K.-based In-Space Missions, which now operates as a subsidiary of BAE.
In-Space Missions designs, builds and operates satellites and satellite systems. The acquisition combines BAE Systems’ experience in highly secure satellite communications for the military with In-Space Missions’ full-lifecycle satellite capability, to make a “compelling” offer, according to the announcement. In-Space Missions specializes in Earth observation, satellite communications, navigation and space science and exploration.
In-Space Missions offers its Faraday hosted payload service, allowing multiple payloads to be launched and operated together as one satellite. In June, the company launched its first combined satellite, carrying six payloads for customers that included U.K.-based space burial provider Aeternum, Europe-based aerospace giant Airbus (Euronext: AIR), U.K.-based IoT satellite company Lacuna, Israel-based satellite communications systems company SatixFy, as well as In-Space Missions’ own Babel payload, and continues to operate them in orbit.
The Faraday service also allows for digital payloads to be uploaded to In-Space Missions’ proprietary, software-defined, ultra-wideband RF platform, reducing the time to orbit for customers from years to days, according to the announcement.
In August 2017, Liddle told Connectivity Business in an interview that the company was focusing on ultra-low-cost low-Earth-orbit missions at a size, mass and power that he said were beyond the reach of cubesats.
Satellite communications for government and military are expected to see towering growth, Northern Sky Research noted in November, its most assessment. The sector is expected to generate $93 billion in volume by 2029, multiple levels of magnitude above the $6.4 billion in 2019.