Working Group A

Working Groups

Working Group A

Opportunities and Challenges of Leveraging “New Space” into “Traditional” Environments


Wednesday – February 28, 2024
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM PT


Until the early 2000’s space was the domain for a select few nation-states and very large corporations. They largely developed their own launch & ground assets and other capabilities required to design, build, deploy and operate their satellites primarily because no alternatives existed. Due to the high cost and long lead time to build traditional satellites, many legacy space users developed conservative acquisition and design processes to ensure success as failure was not an option for a satellite costing hundreds of millions of dollars, that took 5-10 years to design and build, and cost over $200M to launch. Contrast that with today where there are multiple vendors that can provide a satellite bus, launch services as well as ground services within weeks to under two years. Due to significantly lower costs and lead times, commercial “New Space” has become more risk tolerance by balancing risk with business plans & objectives and system architecture. Expected failure rates are often incorporated as part of the business plan and system architecture in many “New Space” offerings. The commoditization of space services, which enables “New Space”, presents many interesting opportunities and challenges for legacy space organizations that have used organic resources to architect/design, implement, and operate space systems for over 50years with a risk adverse mindset. For legacy/traditional users, carefully and selectively leveraging “New Space” paradigms, products & services to meet mission needs can introduce new opportunities to become more agile and cost effective; however, “New Space’s” commercial paradigms and processes often do not mesh well with traditional business practices/processes, mission requirements/architectures and general risk aversion embedded in some legacy “old space” cultures.

This Working Group will have a panel of government and commercial representatives that will present the types of services that are available and thoughts of how they can be leveraged and integrated into legacy/traditional space systems and acquisition processes. Each panelist will present at least one challenge they see for or, as traditional space users, adopting “New Space” products and/or practices. These challenges will then become topics that the audience will help address. Panelists will have 15 minutes each for presentation, followed by 5 minutes of questions. After all panelists have presented, there will be a general audience discussion of challenges that the panelists have presented.

Lead Donald Sather, The Aerospace Corporation


Donald Sather has over 38 years of experience working with the United States space community at The Aerospace Corporation. The first 8 years of his career consisted of designing, integrating and testing radiation-hardened embedded processing components and systems for several different spacecraft programs. For the last 30 years, he has been designing, integrating, testing and upgrading individual ground systems as well as entire ground facilities to support various satellite and booster programs. He has served as the Chief Engineer for the US Air Force Satellite Control Network and Launch Ranges. He also has experience as a satellite operator and managed a telemetry processing center. He currently serves as a Technical Fellow of The Aerospace Corporation.