“To put nine sensors on the biggest bus Northrop Grumman has ever built is a really difficult integration task,” says Joshua Hartman, CEO of Horizons Strategy Group and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for space and intelligence. “And that's after we solved the development of each of those nine sensors. We were asking them to do things that were very difficult to do. Pete Rustan used to talk about how a program should only have one or two miracles, and eight or nine miracles is not a good way to manage a . . . space acquisition program.”
That isn't likely to happen again soon, Hartman says, because funding will be too tight. Research and development programs aimed at disaggregation in the $100-$200 million range may be possible, but not big “transformation” projects as in the past. “This is a long-term process that's going to take place over the next 10 to 15 years,” he says.