The Cost of Satellite Storage

The Defense Department must fully consider the costs associated with storing satellites early in the acquisition process, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, released Dec. 9. Currently, satellite storage is handled on a case-by-case basis, but GAO said there needs to be a specific DOD or service acquisition policy that addresses “how and when to contract for satellite storage.” The report also found data on contractors’ proposed storage costs inadequate and called upon the department to keep more detailed records for evaluating reasonableness of estimates. Satellite storage cost DOD some $130 million over the last five years, with an additional $206 million projected over the next five years, states the summary of the report, citing officials from the eight satellite programs in which satellites were stored or will be stored in the future. Variance on individual storage jobs was high, ranging from $40,000 on the low end to $120 million on the other side of the spectrum, depending on the expertise needed to monitor and maintain the satellite in storage, as well as the “types and frequency of testing” conducted, and the “length of time stored,” states the report.