Executives from Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Thales Alenia Space and other satellite manufacturers said software-defined or “flexible” satellites that can redesign capacity and beams have now become a requirement for operators, SpaceNews reported Wednesday.
“Real-time flexibility: that’s the price of admission these days,” Guy Beutelschies, vice president of communication satellite solutions at Lockheed’s space business, said Wednesday at the World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris. “Most customers that we’re talking to want that capability onboard and are demanding that capability onboard to have that reprogrammability.”
While flexibility has become a must-have requirement in satellite systems, some industry executives said satellite operators will still focus on the overall cost of the platforms in the long term.
“There is an overemphasis on flexibility because the customers haven’t quite figured out what the long-term business cases are,” said Dan Jablonsky, president and CEO of Maxar Technologies. “When they figure that out, there will continue to be a [focus] on cost versus how flexible the comparative use cases are."