Millennium's small satellite business & market are both in motion

Millennium Space Systems became part of Boeing in 2018 but remains not fully integrated so the small satellite maker can continue being itself at a different pace and cadence, which Millennium's CEO explains is mostly by design.

Jason Kim was one year into a stint at Raytheon Technologies segment when the nearly two-decade market veteran got the pitch to return to the company he says he grew up with.

Kim spent the 10 years prior to Raytheon at Millennium Space Systems, the small satellite maker Boeing acquired in 2018 and operates as a subsidiary focused on alternative models for space access and business.

So why go back to become CEO of Millennium and take it through the next phase of its strategy as a non-fully integrated arm of its blue chip owner?

“We’re still a small company, about 450 people at the moment and growing, and with that small company culture, you really know everybody, you know a lot about each other, and you depend on each other and help each other out,” Kim told me in an interview at the SATELLITE 2021 trade show in National Harbor, Maryland.

On the surface, there is a slight paradox of Millennium touting its small company identity within a global industrial giant like Boeing. The nearly 20-year-old Millennium is a part of Boeing’s space and launch business unit.

Kim said part of Millennium’s attraction is that given its status as non-fully integrated, it can still draw on Boeing’s financial resources and contribute to the owner’s larger technology roadmaps through prototyping and other efforts.

By the same token, Millennium has the freedom to create its own roadmaps with technologies and techniques brought in from outside the traditional aerospace-and-defense sector.

One of the roadmap items Kim mentioned was three-dimensional printing of structures to help develop satellites at larger volumes and faster speeds of 12-to-13 months versus years.

The word “hybrid” also came up frequently in our conversation thread about roadmaps and where they are going.

“We also see the future in a hybrid of ground processing and onboard processing, which will enable even lower latency communications for decision-makers to go from sensing to actual information,” Kim said.

“There’s a hybrid future of small satellites and large satellites working together, we are investing in technologies to enable safety of flight between the small and large satellites.”

Safety is becoming a more paramount topic as outer space gets more crowded given the ever-increasing numbers of satellite launches each year, which eventually translates to growth in space debris.

Millennium participated in an effort to tackle that problem late last year, when two of its satellites launched via a Rocket Lab vehicle to use tethering technology and bring satellites back to earth from low-Earth orbit.

Kim said the idea there is to make so-called LEO orbit more sustainable and the DRAGRACER demonstration last year de-orbited two satellites eight months sooner than previously expected.

That is also in keeping with Boeing’s overall environment and sustainability goals, an umbrella under which Kim said Millennium is additionally working on the development of safer fuels.

But where the owner of Millennium particularly comes into play is the production aspect and at scale given how Kim sees the overall small sat market as “going more from prototypes to constellations.”

“I can see that happening already with satellite communications, but I also see it with things like missile warning and missile defense,” Kim said.

In one example, Millennium holds a contract with U.S. Space Force to evaluate sensors for satellites to detect and track ballistic missiles. Kim said the goal there is to help incorporate better capability than geosynchronous orbit, or GEO, and less complexity than low-Earth orbit.

That effort called Missile Track Custody Prototype could also serve as an example of the hybrid-type constellation Kim spoke of with large and small satellites working together, particularly as the small sat market further matures.

“As we move more toward constellation building in addition to prototype development, we’re standing up high-volume production systems and that’s the mind-blowing part,” Kim said. “We’re taking a lot of the production expertise from Boeing and applying that to small satellites to become more efficient, to be more affordable.

“That’s where you’re developing satellites in terms of weeks not months.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.