Harris Corp. sees its antenna-reflector and GPS-related satellite business growing at double-digit rates in the coming year. Most of Harris’s space-related portfolio is for classified U.S. military programs, which Harris sees growing at a 5% annual rate for years to come. Credit: Harris

PARIS — Harris Corp. said its commercial space business from GPS payloads and satellite reflector antennas will grow by 10% or more this year and that demand for its reflectors has doubled in the past couple of years.

In an Oct. 31 conference call with investors, Harris Chief Executive William M. Brown said two of the three legs of the company’s Space and Intelligence Systems division — the commercial side and the classified side for U.S. government customers — are on sustained growth tracks.

But partly because of the decline in business related to the GOES-R geostationary environmental satellite, Harris’s environment business is falling sharply and will continue to do so for the coming year, the company said.

Harris sees its defense and intelligence space systems business lines up for a sustained period, with commercial also growing. But the environmental satellite line faces headwinds. Credit: Harris

Two-thirds of the Space and Intelligence Systems division’s annual revenue is from classified systems. Brown said these were led by adaptable sensors and “creative smallsat solutions” that are now catching on with U.S. government customers as part of the move to “disaggregate” orbital assets to provide greater resilience in the event of attack.

Harris said it had one a classified small-satellite-technology contract that had the potential to generate $100 million in revenue in the next two years. The division’s commercial business “received its largest order for a single satellite, covering four reflectors and marking the eighth reflector win in the past two years, driven by constellation recapitalization and fleet expansion.”

“The pipeline overall for the Space and Intel business is pretty robust, it’s up 4-5% year over year, at about $11.5-$12 billion, so we continue to see good health,” Brown said of the total addressable market.

Two reflectors a year then, four now

On the commercial front, Harris had typically sold two reflector antennas per year until a couple of years ago, when demand from telecommunications and science satellite missions caused that figure to double.

“And we see another five or so that are bidding opportunities in our fiscal 2018,” he said. Harris’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

“In the commercial reflector business we have a strong global share. It’s a commercial-model-driven business where we invest our own internal R&D and then sell it into the marketplace. It performs exceptionally well on orbit, almost no failures, with very, very high margins,” Brown said.

Harris work on environmental satellites is being hit by both a cyclical downturn in the wake of GOES-R and something that may be longer-lasting.

“We are seeing some budgetary pressure from where the Trump administration wants to go in environmental sciences,” Brown said. “We have factored that into our guidance” forecasting a 15% decline in that business for the year.

“We have a couple of sensors on the Joint Polar Satellite Systems, JPSS, but with the 3rd and 4th polar follow-ons there has been some funding pressure,” he said.

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Peter B. de Selding
Peter B. de Selding

Peter de Selding is a Co-Founder and editor for SpaceIntelReport.com. He started SpaceIntelReport in 2017 after 26 years as the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews where he covered the commercial satellite, launch and the international space businesses. He is widely considered the preeminent reporter in the space industry and is a must read for space executives. Follow Peter @pbdes

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