Agencies have access to new satellite services center

Agencies have access to new satellite services center

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

General Dynamics Corp. is building a satellite operations center on the Las Cruces campus of New Mexico State University for the expanding satellite communications market.

Ken Osborne, director of civil and commercial space services for General Dynamics, cited government outsourcing as a driving force behind what he called explosive demand for fee-for-service communications.

The company already provides satellite services to NASA and the Defense Department, as well as commercial customers at an existing Las Cruces facility.

The SpacePlex facility now being built by General Dynamics' worldwide telecommunications systems group will supply command and control services, network operations and ground station support for up to 100 additional satellites when it opens this summer.

The university, a center for space telemetry and telecommunications, receives funding from NASA, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the National Science Foundation.

General Dynamics' current government satellite operations will continue at their present sites, but new government business will go to the new complex, said David Messner, business manager for General Dynamics' space systems support group.

Although the government formerly dominated the satellite field, 'it is quickly becoming one of several customers and no longer a prime driver,' Messner said.

The SpacePlex will serve a growing market of users that want to take advantage of satellite communications without the burden of ground operations.

'We believe the time is coming when we can separate the satellite business into upstairs and downstairs,' Messner said. 'Our customers will handle the upstairs, and we'll have the infrastructure and the ground control systems.'

The SpacePlex will provide ground control, signal monitoring, and teleport uplink and downlink services for relaying data over terrestrial networks.

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