Military funding for space programs has cloud of uncertainty

By John McHale
WASHINGTON, 14 May 2011. Designers of radiation-hardened electronics for space programs say the U.S. military market has a degree of uncertainty as the impact of impending cuts to the Department of Defense budget are still up in the air. Meanwhile they see strong opportunities in commercial satellites especially in Europe, while in the U.S. NASA's budget continues to shrink.
"There are still questions as to what will get funded when the Department of Defense (DOD) budget is finally approved by Congress," says Anthony Jordan at Aeroflex Colorado Springs in Colorado Springs, Colo. Jordan says he and his colleagues are wondering what will be left for satellites after the cuts are made. "Will the DOD have to trade-off intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities between satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)? Will congress fund the block buys per EASE in fiscal year 2012 or will single satellite appropriations continue. Overall funding seemed to have slowed with some programs not getting started and with others frozen at 2010 levels."

"The trend is less new design activities, but we're seeing orders for more copies of existing hardware designs," says Vic Scuderi, manager of satellite electronics for BAE Systems in Manassas, Va. "While this keeps our factory going, we as an industry are at risk that we may see less new technologies being fielded as development efforts are not funded due to budget considerations. A secondary concern is that our industry could be losing some of our talented engineers without new development programs being funded."
"With the current U.S. federal administration calling for defense budget cuts of $100 billion, programs will be cancelled, scaled down, or delayed," says Odile Ronat, discrete marketing manager at International Rectifier in El Segundo, Calif.
The budget has yet to be approved and currently the "military space market is strong as there is a lot of volume in classified programs," says John Bendekovic, director of aerospace and defense sales at Xilinx in San Jose, Calif. The majority of cuts that have been discussed regarding the U.S. DOD budget have not yet affected these programs."
The rad-hard market is a growth market, says Jim Salzman, director of technology and radiation effects at Texas Instruments' high reliability business unit in Dallas. "We've seen substantial growth over the last five years, especially as industry awareness of our rad-hard products has grown."
The military space market is trending up, says Doug Patterson, vice president of the military and aerospace business sector at Aitech in Chatsworth, Calif. 
"From a very high level vantage point, the rad-hard requirement has always been there but, because in the past silicon feature sizes on integrated circuits were comparatively large, gates took more energy to switch states, and RAM wasn't as dense, ICs therefore were inherently more rad-hard to single event effects (SEEs) for example," Patterson explains. "So now, with the advent of sub micron silicon process, and extreme density RAM, we will notice more and more that ICs will tend to not be as rad-hard as their predecessors, which means designing and mitigating radiation effects in the future will be more of a challenge, and hence trending up."
While the immediate future regarding U.S. defense funding may be unclear the civil and commercial space markets in the U.S. and Europe have a little more certainty -- both positive and negative.
"Domestically the space market for ASICs is somewhat stagnant especially with NASA's budget being cut," says Peter Milliken, director of semicustom products at Aeroflex Colorado Springs. However, "internationally things are going amazingly well with Europe booming due to the Iridium Next program.  
"Europe is making investments and is heavily engaging the rad-hard component community," Milliken continues.
Commercialized manned spaceflight is still in its infancy, but rad-hard companies are starting to see some activity in this area.
"Our computers and components are already on board some of these commercial space flight programs," BAE Systems' Scuderi says. "These programs continue to walk a fine line between lower costs and ever increasing requirements for rad-hard performance of their vehicles. While mission life is measured in minutes, risks continue to be at an all time high with humans riding atop a vehicle that must provide, for example, protection against single event upsets. To address this market, we have addressed cost challenges while finding ways to maintain the customer support."

Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

Custom and OEM Camera Design

We provide custom designs for both modifications to existing systems and development of new produ...

Nano-D Bi-Lobes® Connectors Dual Row Horizontal SMT (Type AA)

Horizontal SMT Bi-Lobe® nanos offer an extremely low profile package that is well suited to pick ...

Latching Micro-D Connectors

Omnetics high reliability Micro-D connectors are available with Quick Latch System. For applicati...

Nano-D BiLobe® Connectors -(COTS)

Sizes are 9, 15, 21, 25, 31, 37 , 51 & 65 pin, at .025 Mil. Pitch(Currently Available), mating pi...

Hybrid Micro-D Connectors

Omnetics high reliability Micro-D connectors are available withmixed power/signal contact layouts...

Micro-D Connectors

Highly rugged and compact designs in shell styles from 9 to 51 contacts. The Micro-D connectors i...

Omnetics Nano-D Bi-Lobe® Latching Connectors

Bi-Lobe® connectors utilize rugged and reliable flex pin contact system. Spaced on 25 mil (.64mm)...

XPedite7575 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7575 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

XTend7103 | COM Express® Carrier for COM Express® Type 10 Mezzanine Modules

The XTend7103 is a COM Express® carrier card designed to provide a low-cost and compact platform ...

XPort6173 | 3U VPX Carrier for Two 2.5 in. Solid-State Drives (SSDs)

The XPort6173 supports two, standard, 2.5 in. Solid-State Drives (SSDs) in a single 0.8 in. or 1....

Related Companies

Southwest Antennas

Designs and manufactures high-performance RF and Microwave antennas and accessories designed for today’s communicatio...

Interface Displays & Controls Inc

Certified ISO-9001/AS9100, veteran-owned, small business. Interface specializes in designing, reverse-engineering and...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

Fabritech Inc

Fabritech was established in 1986 and specializes in the fabrication of EMI, RFI, and thermal shielded products made ...

KAMAKA Electronic Bauelemente Vertriebs GmbH

One of the leading Hi-Rel suppliers in Central Europe for more than 23 years. The quality of our products and the tec...

Henniker Plasma

Plasma Treatment Equipment - Plasma Cleaners, Plasma Etchers, Plasma Coating & Plasma Surface ModificationWe are the ...

SHENMAO America Inc

Provides quality performance solder materials including: SMT assembly, lead free and tin lead solder paste, cored sol...

Cable Labels USA

Over the years we have also used and tested hundreds of products, the best ones we sell and use in our company every ...

InnovaQuartz LLC

Manufacturer of fiber-optic assemblies for spectroscopy and high-energy delivery with patented and proprietary techno...


The Intel Xeon-D processor and its role in high-performance embedded computing (HPEC)

The rugged Intel Xeon-D server-class multicore microprocessor is set to revolutionize high-performance embedded computing. By itself, the processor will bring unprecedented power to embedded computing applic...

Harsh Environment Protection for Advanced Electronics and Components

This webinar will offer an opportunity to learn more about ultra-thin Parylene conformal coatings – how they are applied, applications they protect today, and the properties and benefits they offer, includin...

Press Releases


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has received a contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply its small form factor ...

Innovative Integration Announces the FMC-Servo

Camarillo, CA June 19, 2015, Innovative Integration, a trusted supplier of signal processing and data acquisition hardware and software solutions, today announced the FMC-S...


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has further enhanced its innovative VRD1 high definition (HD) video management system (VMS) w...

All Access Sponsors

Mil & Aero Magazine

August 2015
Volume 26, Issue 8

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles