July 7 E-Bird Newsletter: Blue Origin Landing in Reston + Weekly Business News Digest
Blue Origin landing in Reston: West Coast-based Blue Origin, a commercial space launch company, recently signed a lease for new office space in Reston, expanding its footprint in the Greater Washington region. The company’s new location is a little over a mile west of the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail station, according to the Washington Business Journal in an article for subscribers. Blue Origin’s website describes the Reston location as its “newest engineering Center of Excellence,” which would support several technology initiatives and the firm’s enterprise technology team. The Reston location means an operating arm closer to the Pentagon and D.C., and the Chantilly headquarters of the National Reconnaissance Office, a major customer and magnet for space-related companies. It will also put the company closer to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, next to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Atlantic coast.
Wondering why Northern Virginia is a rapidly growing space and satellite company hub? Click here to find out the top 10 reasons cited by several regional space experts. And read below for news from additional space companies — plus news from companies in other dynamically growing tech industry sectors in the region, including nanotechnology and cybersecurity — and more.
Space-based data center race: Private companies and governments are showing growing commitments to making space-based digital infrastructure, including data centers, a reality during the past year, Bisnow reported. Hyperscale cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has its East Coast headquarters in Herndon, are launching edge computing units into space and modifying their terrestrial data centers to provide connectivity for the merging satellite internet market. And while data centers on the moon may sound like the stuff of science fiction, lunar digital infrastructure is becoming a key front in an emerging space race between the U.S., the European Union and China, wrote Dan Rabb, Bisnow’s data center reporter, in the article. AWS has successfully deployed an off-the-shelf edge processing node known as a Snowcone aboard the International Space Station. Weighing just 5 pounds and around the size of a tissue box, the Snowcone was not designed for space but for use as a mini edge data center that runs AWS applications in locations on Earth with little or no connectivity.“ AWS is committed to eliminating the traditional barriers encountered in a space environment, including latency and bandwidth limitations,” AWS Director of Aerospace and Satellite Clint Crosier said in the announcement.
3D printed rocket: U.K.-based satellite communications company OneWeb, which has its North American headquarters in Tysons, signed Long Beach, Calif.-based Relativity Space to launch OneWeb’s LEO satellites on Terran R, the first fully reusable and entirely 3D printed rocket, starting in 2025. These launches will support OneWeb’s deployment of the firm’s Gen 2 satellite network, which will add capacity and fresh capabilities to build upon the initial constellation of 648 satellites the company is currently building out. “We are excited about this agreement with Relativity, who we’ve long admired as a true disruptor in the aerospace manufacturing industry. Relativity will add new capacity to our launch program well into the future,” said Massimiliano Ladovaz, CTO, OneWeb. satnews has more.
Satellite bus supplier: Falls Church-area based Northrop Grumman announced the selection of Airbus, which bases its North American headquarters in Herndon, as its satellite bus supplier for the U.S. Space Development Agency’s low Earth orbit constellation, Space News reported. Northrop Grumman won a $692 million contract from SDA in February, one of three companies selected by the Pentagon’s space agency to each produce 42 satellites projected to launch in 2024. Airbus U.S. Space and Defense, headquartered in Arlington, Va., will produce satellite buses for the Transport Layer Tranche 1, a mesh network of small satellites to support military communications, surveillance and tracking of enemy targets. SDA plans to launch Tranche 1 satellites in late 2024.
Support from the Commonwealth: Lynk Global is moving toward a planned 2022 launch of its communication satellites, technical.ly reported. The Falls Church-based company just received $1 million from the Virginia-created funding entity Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC), under which Virginia Venture Partners is housed. Lynk CEO Charles Miller said that this amount represents the maximum VIPC can give, as well as its first time granting a sum that large. The NoVa startup, said that the funds will be used to scale its commercial services at a planned time of late 2022. The company has a goal of providing universal connectivity around the world, including in rural areas. With the funding, Lynk will build more satellites to put toward its space network. To date, the company has raised $27 million. It’s also in the midst of a $100 million Series B raise that it expects to close by this summer’s end. But the funding from Virginia, Miller said, is a boost of support from its own state. “[This investment] means that the state of Virginia has a confidence in the value of Lynk and also the benefits to the citizens of Virginia,” Miller said.
Location, location, location: Greater Washington gained two new multibillion-dollar public players in the defense sector in recent months: In May, Boeing announced that it would relocate its headquarters to Arlington, Va. from Chicago. Less than a month later, Raytheon Technologies announced it would also move its headquarters to Arlington from Waltham, Massachusetts. With those two shifts, Greater Washington will be home to the top five aerospace and defense contractors, joining Bethesda’s Lockheed Martin, Reston’s General Dynamics, and Falls Church area’s Northrop Grumman. Reasons for the headquarters moves includes being closer to the federal government, wrote Washington Business Journal’s Carolyn Proctor in a feature article analyzing why the companies chose to relocate here. “You’re putting the corporate executives where their biggest customers are located,” said Terry Clower, Northern Virginia Chair and Professor of Public Policy for the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. “It’s also a strategic home base in general for companies with a national or global reach — as both companies have, not just in contracting but also in commercial markets.”
Making history: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum recent acquired a HawkEye 360 Pathfinder satellite, which will be displayed in the new Raytheon Technologies Living in the Space Age exhibition that is scheduled to open in 2025 in the National Mall location, according to National Air and Space Museum News. Herndon-based Hawkeye 360 donated the satellite. The three Pathfinders and follow-on satellites form the first commercial satellite constellation ever to detect, characterize, and geolocate a broad range of radio frequency signals from transmitters on the ground and sea. The data obtained by the constellation has traditionally been collected by governments and has been used primarily for defense purposes. HawkEye 360 is enabling use of this data for new purposes such as combatting illegal fishing and human trafficking, detecting violators of economic sanction restrictions, determining the sources of radio frequency interference, and wildlife protection.
Space talent race: Talent professionals at SpaceLink, which has its North American HQ in Tysons, and Herndon- and Seattle-based geospatial intelligence and global monitoring company Blacksky Technology were among those interviewed in a Via Satellite article focused on how space industry leaders compete for tech talent in a tight market. The space industry has a lot of job openings and not enough people to fill them, according to the article. Hiring strategies that the interviewees describe include changing their recruiting techniques, allowing more remote work, and in some cases, a willingness to hire from outside the industry. “Your talent acquisition department better be on the offensive in this market. What you did in 2019 will not work in 2022,” said Chris Silva, SpaceLink talent acquisition leader. “It’s hand-to-hand combat. It’s one of those four times in my career that I just can’t believe how competitive it is,” he said, pointing to the Y2K phenomenon, the dotcom bubble, and the 2008-2009 recession.
Nano-imagine: Fairfax based George Mason University will launch a new program beginning next week to catalyze the growth of the nanotechnology industry in Northern Virginia, thanks to $3.75 million in grants, reported the Washington Business Journal. The university is receiving $2.5 million for the initiative through Go Virginia Region 7, the local chapter of the commonwealth-funded initiative led by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The “Nano-Imagine” initiative will include workforce training and support for nanotech startups. Another $1.25 million came through university funds, as well as the Prince William County Department of Economic Development and employer partners Idaho-based computer memory company Micron Technology, which has a Manassas manufacturing plant, and Falls Church area-based BAE Systems, the U.S. subsidiary of the British aerospace company BAE Systems. Go Virginia’s Region 7 includes Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.
Blockchain transparency: Israel-based digital intelligence solutions provider Cellebrite, which has an office location in Tysons, and New York City-based Chainalysis, a blockchain data platform, launched a partnership to enable customers to easily identify and assess criminal activity involving cryptocurrency during digital investigations to expedite their resolution. Together, Cellebrite and Chainalysis are enabling customers to modernize investigations by leveraging the transparency of blockchains. “Cryptocurrency, as any other financial instrument, has become a vehicle for funding crime and laundering money, and as its adoption increases, our customers must be equipped with cutting-edge solutions to identify this important category of digital evidence,” said Leeor Ben-Peretz, Chief Strategy Officer at Cellebrite. Crypto Reporter has more.
Beacon of help: Beacon, a Fortune 500 company based in Herndon, entered a two-year partnership with D.C.’s Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit, to provide home repairs in underserved communities where Beacon operates. Rebuilding Together’s mission is to repair homes and revitalize communities, and it operates through a vast network of local affiliates. Beacon, which until last year was known as Beacon Roofing Supply, has more than 400 branches across all 50 states and six provinces in Canada. The publicly traded company posted $6.64 billion in revenue and $2.75 billion in net income across 2021. Last month, it said it recorded $1.69 billion in first-quarter revenue, up from $1.32 billion in the first quarter of 2021, the Washington Business Journal reported.
Bigger footprint, job opportunities: Tysons-based LaserShip, an e-commerce parcel carrier is moving into a 105K square foot warehouse space in Chantilly in the Stonecroft Industrial Center. It is adjacent to U.S. Route 50 and Virginia Route 28 and 8 miles from Washington Dulles International Airport. The lease represents an expansion of LaserShip’s Northern Virginia footprint, where it already operates in Chantilly. LaserShip said it is confident in the growth of its business, and it plans to employ 100 workers at its new facility when it opens in the fall. Bisnow has more.
Northrop Grumman (Falls Church area) received a $337.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy to perform research and development, maintenance and other services in support of helicopter avionics. GovConWire
Parsons Government Services (Centreville) won an $8.7 million contract modification to a previously awarded satellite operations contract for support and delivery, network, infrastructure, hardware, and architecture solutions. DoD News/Contracts
AT&T (Oakton); Applied Information Sciences (Reston); Credence Management Solutions (Tysons); Cyberspace Solutions (Herndon); OST (Tysons); Shared Spectrum (Tysons); and Trace Systems (Tysons) were among the recipients of a $950 million contract from the U.S. Air Force for the maturation, demonstration and proliferation of capability across platforms and domains, leveraging open systems design, modern software and algorithm development in order to enable Joint All Domain Command and Control. DoD News/Contracts
FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events
July 12 — Entrepreneurship 101: Starting A Business With Fairfax County. Join FCEDA for a free virtual webinar on how to start a business in Fairfax County. We will provide you with informative step-by-step information sessions that will cover registering your business, permitting requirements, business feasibility and business plan basics, business certifications, financing options and government resources. In addition, the Entrepreneur Spotlight will feature a guest speaker who will discuss their entrepreneurial journey and share valuable tips for business success. This session will feature Bob Rogers, CEO, Chesapeake Digital Solutions. Click here to register.
August 23 — Fairfax State of the Market: Exploring Today’s Emerging Markets. Bisnow presents an event focused on: “From Richmond Highway to Chantilly, where to make the next best commercial real estate investment.” Featured panelists include Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA. Click here to register.
FCEDA is Here to Help Your Business Thrive
Fairfax County EDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at email@example.com, or call 703-790-0600 to leave a voice message for our staff. And click here for resources available in the other nine jurisdictions that make up the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance.