Satellite manufacturers have been compelled to implement new ways as a result of the pandemic and the related supply chain challenges, some of which they hope to keep in place in the post-pandemic era. Chip and other electronics shortages have wreaked havoc on the economy, impacting everything from consumer devices to vehicles. Manufacturers noted during a discussion panel at Satellite 2021 conference on September 8 that supply chain interruptions had also impacted space systems.

Those businesses claim that based just on-demand; they have limited clout with suppliers. “In terms of volume, space is dwarfed compared to the automotive business or anything else,” stated Jean-Marc Nasr, Airbus head of space systems and the executive vice president. Instead, businesses say they’re working very closely with suppliers and at earlier stages of projects to guarantee they obtain the parts they need on time. It has also prompted businesses to reassess their make-versus-buy decisions, with some bringing more work in-house as a result.

Companies are, however, deciding to collaborate with different suppliers, including significant manufacturers, in some situations. Northrop Grumman’s vice president as well as general manager in charge of the tactical space systems, Frank DeMauro, highlighted that his business had significant expertise in developing power electronics for spacecraft but chose Airbus for those components for NASA’s lunar Gateway’s HALO module. He stated, “That was the best answer we could provide our consumer.” However, supply chain interruptions caused by pandemics aren’t the only problem that manufacturers are dealing with. Because of the sorts and numbers of the satellites they create, they have had to reconsider their suppliers.

Our supply base is evolving as we move into this networked future with all-digital software-defined satellites, stated the Boeing Commercial Satellite Systems International president, Ryan Reid. “It gives the supply chain and collaborations new dimensions.” The supply chain was under new strain from Constellations. “When you do the constellation, the relation with supply chain becomes even more crucial because you need to have a steady relationship over time,” Nasr explained. OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between Airbus and OneWeb, produces satellites for the OneWeb network. “We need to be in close proximity to our suppliers.”

For the most part, manufacturers downplayed the influence of the pandemic or even other market shifts on the supply chain. “We’ve had strategic solutions on the supply network for a long time,” stated Chris Johnson, Maxar Technologies’ senior vice president in charge of the space. “COVID has probably tweaked that slightly in reaction to market feedback, but we’re having dialogues with the supplier base as we consider our future growth opportunities.” Other modes of doing trade among satellite manufacturers have changed due to the pandemic, and some of these will continue when it is over. A lot of it has to do with hiring and retaining personnel, as well as remote work and greater project tasks.

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