Monday, March 4, 2024

Northrop Grumman, IHI partner to develop small, highly maneuverable satellites

During the DSEI Japan defense exhibition at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba City, Japan, IHI Corporation and US aerospace company Northrop Grumman have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop small, highly maneuverable satellites for missions such as Space Domain Awareness (SDA) for Japan to protect commercial satellites from potentially hostile spacecraft.

This agreement states that the SDA satellites will be based on current Northrop Grumman satellite buses and may use IHI space propulsion systems.

Many satellites indispensable for modern economic and social activities, such as meteorological satellites, quasi-zenith satellites, and broadcasting and communication satellites, operate in geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) and comprise a part of the social infrastructure. Servicing for these satellites is starting as a business, and while some satellites move in GEO in a friendly manner, there are also more satellites that move around suspiciously.

For this reason, since December 2022, Japan’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy have mandated strengthening SDA and stipulated the need for SDA satellites, both from the perspective of ensuring sustainable economic activity as well as national security.

“Recently, we have seen a rise in military surveillance efforts from other countries, which is becoming a national security threat. We need to characterize suspicious satellites to understand the threat,” said Fumiharu Namiki, Vice President of Aero Engine, Space & Defense Business Area, IHI Corporation and concurrently IA President.

“Northrop Grumman’s demonstrated experience in this field and the long-standing cooperation between our companies makes them our best partner to pursue solutions to these problems. We will cooperate together to contribute to the stable use of space.”

IHI and Northrop Grumman will work together to contribute to the increasingly critical domain of space, in particular for sustainable space activities in GEO and global, national security space.