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Orbital ATK: Intelsat to be First Satellite Servicing Customer

Leading aerospace and defense company, Orbital ATK, Inc. OA announced that commercial satellite service provider Intelsat, S.A. I has signed an agreement to be the first customer for its new satellite life extension service. Per the agreement, Orbital ATK will manufacture, test and launch the first Commercial Servicing Vehicle (“CSV”) and the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (“MEV-1”). Launch of the first MEV is estimated to occur in late 2018, with in-orbit testing and demonstration to be performed with an Intelsat satellite. Testing is scheduled for completion by early 2019.

Growing Demand for Satellite Services

The need to service fully functional but ageing satellites has been recognized in both the commercial and government markets. Through this program, the company aims to address growing satellite servicing requirements of commercial and government customers. Backed by consistent investment, Orbital ATK intends to expand its CSV fleet to provide a diverse array of in-space services in the future.

Benefits for Customers

In-orbit servicing will ensure longer lives of satellites running on existing technology, which is still viable for its functions. This service will also be able to reduce costs dramatically and enable customers to unlock maximum value from their in-orbit assets.

Intelsat strives to extend the life of each and every satellite. The company also plans to move the satellites to different orbital locations later in their lives to grab market opportunity and address specific requirements. According to Intelsat, the new venture is expected to provide fleet flexibility and enhance the company’s revenue stream over the long haul.

Going Ahead

For several years, ViviSat was working on developing the MEV. ViviSat is a joint venture between Orbital ATK and satellite operator U.S. Space. Recently, however, the joint venture was dissolved because of its failure to generate adequate external funding for this work. Instead, Satellite Logistics LLC, a subsidiary of Orbital ATK, is presently working on the concept. Satellite Logistics plans to utilize technology under development at the NASA’s Goddard Sapce Flight Center to refuel customer spacecraft robotically.

Going forward, Orbital ATK expects the new market for satellite servicing to move beyond simple life extension to include refueling and repairing of spacecraft. In addition, the company has tied up with government agencies to develop additional space logistics technologies, such as robotics and high-power, solar-electric propulsion.

Orbital ATK has a plan to spend nearly $1 billion for research and development. The company expects to sell at least five MEVs over the next five years.

Orbital ATK’s strong optimism was backed by its backlog of $13.5 billion at 2015 end. The backlog includes options, indefinite quantity contract and undefinitized orders.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Orbital ATK currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A couple of better-ranked stocks in the aerospace and defense industry include HEICO Corporation HEI and Rockwell Collins Inc. COL, both sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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ROCKWELL COLLIN (COL): Free Stock Analysis Report
HEICO CORP (HEI): Free Stock Analysis Report
INTELSAT SA (I): Free Stock Analysis Report
ORBITAL ATK INC (OA): Free Stock Analysis Report
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