The Pros and Cons of Targeting the Military Industry for Space Companies

Source: US Space Force

In today’s rapidly evolving space industry, early stage companies face the challenge of determining their target markets and betting the company. Other more developed companies may be faced with having to pivot from their original target market. One option is to focus on the military industry, which presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges.

This article reviews the pros and cons of targeting the military industry to help an entrepreneur understand the potential advantages and drawbacks associated with this market:

Pros Cons
High budgets: Military industry often has significant budgets, offering space companies a potentially lucrative market. Ethical concerns: Some individuals and organizations may object to the militarization of space and the potential negative consequences.
Technological innovation: Developing solutions for military requirements can lead to cutting-edge technology that may have applications in other industries. Regulatory challenges: The military industry is highly regulated, and obtaining the necessary approvals can be time-consuming and complex.
Long-term contracts: Military contracts can offer stability and long-term revenue streams for the company. Dependence on government policies: The company’s success may be highly dependent on government policies, which can change with new administrations or shifting political priorities.
Networking opportunities: Working with the military can open doors to other government agencies and potential partners in the defense industry. Limited market diversification: Focusing primarily on the military industry may limit opportunities to diversify into other markets, potentially leaving the company vulnerable to industry-specific downturns.
Prestige and credibility: Being a military supplier can enhance the company’s reputation and credibility, potentially attracting other clients and partners. Security and confidentiality requirements: Working with the military often requires adhering to strict security protocols and dealing with classified information, which can be burdensome and costly.

Note that this list of pros and cons is not an exhaustive list.

Some space companies that are currently servicing the military industry include:


While SpaceX is primarily known for its achievements in commercial space travel and satellite launch services, it has also entered the military sector. In 2020, SpaceX won a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to launch national security payloads for the U.S. Space Force. The company’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets have been used to launch military satellites, providing the U.S. military with advanced communication capabilities and surveillance systems.

Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman is a global aerospace and defense technology company with a long history of involvement in the military sector. One of its space-focused subsidiaries, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, specializes in launch vehicles, missile defense systems, and satellites for military applications. The company’s Pegasus, Minotaur and Antares rockets have been used to launch classified payloads and reconnaissance satellites for the U.S. government.

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is a major defense contractor and aerospace company with a significant presence in the military space industry. The company has developed a range of military satellites, including GPS navigation satellites, missile warning systems, and communications satellites for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Capella Space

Capella Space, founded in 2016, is a startup company that specializes in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites for Earth observation. Their SAR technology provides high-resolution imaging capabilities regardless of weather conditions or time of day, making it particularly valuable for military applications such as reconnaissance, intelligence, and surveillance. Capella Space has secured contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force to provide these services.

Hawkeye 360

Hawkeye 360, founded in 2015, is a startup that focuses on radio frequency (RF) geospatial intelligence. By using small satellites to identify and map radio frequency signals globally, Hawkeye 360 can provide valuable data for military applications such as situational awareness, signal intelligence, and asset tracking. The company has worked with the U.S. Department of Defense to provide RF data and analytics for their mission-critical operations.

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