Orbital Sciences makes low-Earth-orbit satellites and other spacecraft for communications, science and technology research, and national security purposes. Orbital Sciences also manufactures satellite launch vehicles, as well as interceptors (to stop missile attacks) and target launch vehicles that test missile defense systems. Its advanced space programs division develops and supports human space flight, space exploration, and launch systems and satellites primarily used for national security programs. In mid-2014, Orbital and Alliant Techsystems agreed to combine their Aerospace and Defense Groups under the name Orbital ATK.
Change in Company Type
Orbital and Alliant Techsystems agreed to merge their Aerospace and Defense Groups in mid-2014, in a $5 billion transaction that will create Orbital ATK, a defense and aviation systems developer with a combined $4.5 billion in revenue.
US accounts for 90% of the company’s revenue. Orbital Sciences operates in US, Europe and Eurasia, Mexico and South America and East Asia.
Through the satellite and space systems segment, 28% of revenue, Orbital is a major provider of small and medium-class satellites. The some 140 satellites produced by the company since its founding in 1982 have completed almost a thousand years of operations in orbit. The segment's satellites are divided into several groups: communications (which includes the GEOStar), science and environmental, imaging and defense, hosted payloads, and grounds systems and customer support.
The launch vehicles segment represents 39% of revenue. The segment's space launch vehicles, which put satellites that weigh up to 4,000 pounds into low-Earth orbit, include the Pegasus, Taurus, and Minotaur. The medium-capacity Antares -- which serves the International Space Station (ISS) -- was developed in 2013 to launch spacecraft that weigh 12,000 pounds.
Accounting for 33% of revenue, the advanced space programs segment developed the Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload sensor that was launched as a secondary payload on Orbital's SES-2 communications satellite for the US Air Force. This segment is also readying the Cygnus spacecraft, which will be launched by the Antares rocket, for transporting cargo to the ISS.
Sales and Marketing
The US government and its contractors account for about 83% of the company's sales.
After achieving a revenue milestone of $2.44 billion in 2012, Orbital saw its revenues dip 5% to $1.3 billion in 2013. Profits climbed 12% from $61 million in 2012 to $68 million in 2013.
The revenue drop for 2013 was attributed to decreased satellites and space systems segment sales primarily due to lower activity on communications satellite contracts that were completed. Sales in the advanced space programs segment were also down primarily due to decreased activity on several key contracts.
Orbital's rise in profits for 2013 was due to a decline in interest expenses in addition to the absence of debt extinguishment expenses attributable to the refinancing of its debt in December 2012. Orbital's operating cash flow has fluctuated wildly over the last five years. In 2013 operating cash flow increased by $60 million primarily due to an increase in unbilled receivables pertaining to its main NASA contract.
To fill a hole left by the retirement of the Space Shuttle, NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) has contracted with Orbital to undertake eight missions for the transport of cargo to the ISS. Competitor Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) already demonstrated its ability to transport cargo to the ISS in May 2012 when it successfully launched a capsule that rendezvoused with the ISS and then splashed down intact in the Pacific.
To fulfill its own contract with NASA, Orbital in 2013 completed development of its medium-capacity Antares rocket. The new rocket increases the payload capacity of its space launch vehicles to approximately 14,000 lbs. for launches to low-Earth orbit and lighter payloads into higher orbits. In April 2013 it conducted the first successful test flight of Antares, followed by a second successful flight in September 2013, as part of its contract with NASA. Under the terms of the contract with NASA, the company expects to perform eight Antares launches through 2016 to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).