Lockheed Martin's decision to acquire Astrotech Space Operations adds to the company's space capabilities. Pictured is a Lockheed Martin's MUOS satellite preparing for launch. (Lockheed Martin)
WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin reached an agreement to purchase the Space Operations arm of Astrotech, a move that should help the largest defense company in the world grow its launch capabilities.
The procurement of the Space Operations group will cost Lockheed $61 million, a relatively small amount. The deal is expected to be finalized in third quarter of this year. The business arm will become a wholly owned subsidiary operating under Lockheed’s Space Systems unit.
Astrotech Space Operations claims both governmental and commercial customers among its base, with facilities near Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Cape Canaveral in Florida. The company specializes in the final stages of launch preparation.
The acquisition “complements our existing capabilities in satellite design, production and integration,” Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a company statement. “This new capability expands our Space Systems services portfolio and enhances the value we offer to current and future Lockheed Martin and Astrotech customers.”
In its own press release, Thomas Pickens, Astrotech’s chairman and CEO, said the sale “represents the beginning of a new era for Astrotech Corporation.”
While the deal is hardly a game-changing one for Lockheed, it does boost the company’s indigenous satellite unit. It also fits in with a trend predicted by a panel of CEOs at last week’s National Space Symposium in Colorado Spring, Colorado.
The space realm is rife with opportunities to acquire specific business units, said Erik Spittle, president of SSL Federal, nine days before Lockheed would make its announcement.
“I can definitely conceive of more of that,” Spittle said. “The top end is going to be a very interesting thing. I think in most cases it would be divestitures of some business units that create opportunities for acquisitions for other companies. There clearly seems to be ... more satellite manufacturing capacity than there is demand for larger space craft.”■