Satnews Daily
December 21st, 2015

The Hosted Payload Alliance (HPA) Reflects On 2015's Advances For The Organization, by HPA Chair Nicole Robinson

HPA's Chair,
Nicole Robinson.

[Satnews] As the Hosted Payload Alliance looks back at 2015 and the mission we’re seeking to advance, we can reflect upon a number of successful events and activities—the culmination of which presents an important picture for hosted payloads and can help us chart a path forward.

Leveraging the momentum from the HoPS IDIQ announced in 2014, industry and government alike anticipated increased activity in the area of hosted payloads for 2015. Yet, here we find ourselves in December without a tangible procurement activity pointing to the success of the contracting vehicle. The first question we as an Alliance and our stakeholders in government must ask ourselves is “Why?” With so much support on both sides of the fence and an ample framework for acquisition, what is it that has held up progress? In June of this year, the HPA met with more than 35 House and Senate offices during our annual Hill Day in Washington, DC, to advance the cause and seek an answer to this question. As a result of this engagement, as well as a series of senior engagements with Defense officials, we discovered that much of the answer lies within the budgetary framework; not just a simple numbers game, but in the way hosted payload programs are (or are not) valued.

In today’s budget-constrained environment, priority has been placed on advancing those programs with greatest operational capability and sustainability by necessity. When current programs of record supporting the warfighter today are challenged, there is little to no room to begin a new effort or explore alternatives, even when those very alternatives have the potential of saving significant amounts of time and money in the long run. Herein lies the challenge and our task for 2016. For commercially hosted government payloads to become a regular way of delivering space capability, they must be viewed as critical operational components alongside existing programs of record. The government must place a priority on these programs for the capability they can deliver, the critical innovation they enable and the cost savings they bring. As an alliance, we must craft a high-level contact plan for 2016 and engage senior leaders to encourage weighted fingers on the scale when evaluating the importance of these programs to ensure they make the cut in the budgeting process.

With this heavy backdrop, we would be remiss if we neglected to highlight programs outside of the HoPS IDIQ that have proven successful in recent months. In the first half of 2015, two hosted payload contracts were announced with the NASA GOLD program and the FAA WAAS hosted payload. These programs signify an impressive ability by our Federal Civilian agencies to continue to press forward in bringing these important capabilities to bear. Though the development road was long and winding for both programs, government and industry both found success.

The HPA engaged in a number of important discussions with government and industry over the course of the year, and hosted several key events that brought together various stakeholders from both sides. Arguably, one of the most illuminating events hosted by the Alliance occurred just last month in London during Global MilSatCom. During this half-day forum, the Alliance brought together representatives from nearly a dozen different nations to discuss the time, cost and technological benefits of commercially hosted government payloads in a lively exchange that resulted in heightened perspectives and established important connections between industry and government. The event made clear that expanding the HPA reach to more deliberately include international government entities is particularly key, and that the value for both would be proven in the months and years ahead.

As we move to close on a year with notable awards, progress and, perhaps, heightened awareness of areas where government and industry can further improve the relationship and program viability in the years to come, we bring in a new year filled with promise and more hard work on the horizon. Our continued engagement with Congress, senior policy makers in the Pentagon and of course our end users worldwide is critically important. It is a task not meant for the weary; it is a task not well suited to the short-sighted. It is, however, one in which all are likely to reap the rewards by advancing a cause that makes sense, and at the end of the day, quite literally has the capability of saving time, money and lives.

Thank you for your commitment in 2015 and here’s to an “All Hands on Deck” theme in the new year.