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Biz Briefs: Thales Alenia Space Signs Contracts for Galileo Program

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
July 20, 2023
Filed under , , ,
Biz Briefs: Thales Alenia Space Signs Contracts for Galileo Program
Galileo Second Generation satellite
Image Credit: ESA.

Welcome to Biz Briefs! In this edition, Thales Alenia Space and its Thales parent company signed $400 million worth of contracts for the Galileo Second Generation satellite navigation program, SpaceX is closing in on a $150 billion valuation, Lockheed Martin reported higher quarterly space revenue, India’s space sector is booming, we’ll soon see how well alcohol and zero gravity mix, and so much more.


Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture of Thales and Leonardo, has signed contracts worth more than €300 million (USD $333.7 million) to design and build the ground mission segment and execute system engineering activities for Europe’s Galileo Second Generation (G2G) global navigation satellite system. Thales Alenia Space is leading a multi-national team that includes Thales, Spaceopal, Leonardo and other partners in 14 European countries.

Parent company Thales won two contracts worth more than €60 million (USD $66.7 million) to provide cybersecurity for the G2G program.

Thales Alenia Space is leading a consortium to implement and operate the WEkEO 2.0 infrastructure for EUMETSAT and its partners. The platform will provide fast, secure and streamlined access to data and products from Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation program and other environmental services.

NASA has awarded ASRC Federal a five-year, $320 million contract to provide facilities operations and maintenance, architect-engineering, construction services and utility management at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Firefly Aerospace Alpha launch
An Alpha rocket lifts off. Image credit: Firefly Aerospace.

Lockheed Martin has signed an agreement to fly a technology demonstration mission on Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha launch vehicle. Details about the mission and the launch window have not been disclosed.

Fleet Space has been awarded an AUD $4 million (USD $2.7 million) contract from the Australian Space Agency to develop an instrument to harness seismic data at the Moon’s south pole. It will be the first Australian instrument to be sent to the lunar surface.

Elizabeth Howell looks at a small Alabama company named Above Space that is performing research and development on artificial and partial gravity technologies with NASA funding.

SpaceX Starlink satellites awaiting deployment
Starlink satellites awaiting deployment. Image credit: SpaceX.


CNBC reports that SpaceX’s valuation is close to $150 billion after existing investors sold shares. SpaceX reached an agreement with existing and new investors to sell up to $750 million in stock from insiders at $81 per share.

Malaysia has issued a license to SpaceX’s Starlink to provide Internet services in the country, with a particular focus on remote areas where residents lack access.

SpaceX launched 15 V2 Mini Starlink broadband satellites on Wednesday evening from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.


Lockheed Martin’s Space division reported second quarter net sales increased by $341 million, or 12%, compared to the same period in 2022. The increase was primarily attributable to:

  • higher net sales of $150 million for strategic and missile defense programs due to higher development volume on the Next Generation Interceptor,
  • higher net sales of $120 million for national security space programs due to higher development volume on classified and Transport Layer satellite programs, and
  • higher net sales of $65 million for commercial civil space programs due to higher volume.

Lockheed Martin Space

(in millions)Quarters Ended Six Months Ended
 June 25, 2023 June 26, 2022 June 25, 2023 June 26, 2022
Net sales$3,166 $2,825 $6,125 $5,384
Operating profit312 271 592 519
Operating margin9.9 % 9.6 % 9.7 % 9.6 %
Source: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin Space’s operating profit in the second quarter of 2023 increased $41 million, or 15%, compared to the same period in 2022. The increase was primarily attributable to:

  • higher operating profit of $25 million for commercial civil space programs due to higher net favorable profit adjustments and higher volume, and
  • higher operating profit of $15 million for higher equity earnings from the company’s investment in United Launch Alliance due to launch mix.

Total equity earnings (primarily ULA) represented approximately $20 million, or 6%, of Space’s operating profit in the second quarter of 2023, compared to approximately $5 million, or 2%, in the second quarter of 2022.

Mergers & Acquisitions

LightRidge Solutions, a leading provider of space and defense mission solutions for the U.S. national security community. has acquired Trident Systems. Terms were not disclosed. Trident is a provider of high-performance space electronics and command, control, communications, computers (C4) intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solutions.

Founded in 2021, LightRidge acquired space payload supplier GEOST later that year. In 2022, LightRidge acquired Ophir Corporation, which provides advanced laser sensing products for the stealth airborne market.

Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lander
Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander. Image credit: Intuitive Machines.

Program Updates

Intuitive Machines reports that its Nova-C lunar lander has passed its complete spacecraft test run. The run verified Nova-C’s flight software, flight avionics, liquid oxygen and liquid methane loading, high-pressure helium system performance, and propulsion system complete functionality. The test culminated in a hot fire of the Nova-C main engine.

Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA have begun qualification testing on solar electric propulsion thrusters that will be installed on the orbiting lunar Gateway station that astronauts will use to explore the moon as part of the Artemis program. The Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) provides 12 kilowatts of propulsive power – over two times more than current state-of-the-art in-space electric propulsion systems. Three AEPS will be on the Power and Propulsion Module, which NASA plans to launch in 2025.

PSLV launch in April 2022
A PSLV rocket launches the TeLEOS-2 and Lumelite-4 satellites into orbit on April 22, 2023. Image credit: ISRO.


Elizabeth Howell takes a closer look at India’s booming private space sector as the government prepares to publish a direct foreign investment policy that should bring a flood of funding into the industry.

China is pursuing a series of commercial space projects that include:

  • ultra-low orbit satellite constellation,
  • Tianmu meteorological constellation,
  • Luojia-2 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) remote sensing application system,
  • satellite data application public service platform for the city of Wuhan
  • satellite resource sharing service platform,
  • 38-satellite Nuwa-1 SAR constellation,
  • four-dimension Earth remote sensing cloud service platform,
  • Tianlong-3 launch vehicle, and
  • Weihai-1 satellite payload for laser communications.


The Small Business Administration has awarded NASA an “A” grade for the sixth consecutive year for the space agency’s work with small businesses. NASA has directly invested $3.6 billion in over 1,700 small businesses across the country.

The U.S. State Department has announced a range of additional sanctions against Russia related to its invasion of Ukraine. The following military space entities were included:

  • Central Research Institute of the Russian Air and Space Forces (TsNII VVKO) — conducts research and development of aerospace defense systems,
  • Center for Operation of Space Ground-Based Infrastructure (AO Tsenki) — maintains Russia’s ground-based space infrastructure, and
  • JSC Aviation Electronics and Communication Systems (AVEKS) – designs and manufactures power supply systems for spacecraft and control systems of electronic propulsion systems.

Switzerland’s Astrostrom company has designed a Greater Earth Lunar Power Station, or GE⊕-LPS under an ESA program. The study envisages a solar power satellite constructed mainly from lunar resources (including Moon-manufactured solar cells) that could deliver megawatts of microwave power down to receivers on the lunar surface.

ESA said it has strengthened its partnership with the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development to assist vulnerable small-scale food producers to grow more food and adapt to global warming by using state-of-the-art Earth observation data.

The Venezuelan government has signed a declaration of cooperation to participate in the Chinese-Russian International Lunar Research Station project.

Virgin Galactic's Gateway to Space at Spaceport America
Sunset at Spaceport America. Image credit: New Mexico Spaceport Authority.

Spaceport Legislation

Two bills focused on improving spaceports have been introduced in the U.S. Senate. A bill sponsored by Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) would allow the Department of Transportation to spend $10 million per year on infrastructure grants to spaceports. The grants would cover up to 90 percent of the cost of projects.

A bill from Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) would authorize to U.S. military to enter contracts with commercial launch companies for the provision of supplies, services, equipment, and construction. The bill would allow the government to recover all direct and indirect costs involved in the deals.

Lightly Fantastic: Truly Hard Seltzer Defies Truly Hard Seltzer Zero Gravity Bar. Image credit: Boston Beer Company.


What do you get when you combine the inebriating effects of alcohol with the disorienting experience of zero gravity? The Boston Beer Company is about to find out. The company will send a group of lucky contest winners on Zero G Corporation’s G-FORCE ONE aircraft, which will fly a series of parabolic loops that will produce brief periods of microgravity. Participants will be served a variety of Truly Hard Seltzers from an “one-of-a-kind pop-up bar” as they float around the cabin.

Casio America has released its fourth timepiece that pays homage to NASA and the space agency’s plans to send astronauts to the moon and Mars. The DW6900NASA237 watch – yes, that is the name of it – uses the classic rounded DW6900 design first introduced in 1995.

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