Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

Orbital sciences' losses more than doubled last year, but the US space systems manufacturer says it made progress with its financial restructuring.

Orbital reported total losses of $278 million in 2000 (after a $122 million loss in 1999) on turnover that fell 5% year-on-year to $869 million. The Dulles, Virginia-based company says that 80% of losses came from non-core businesses.

To address this, and its liquidity needs, it is to sell some or all of its stake in Canadian remote-sensing specialist MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to an investor group for up to $163 million. By the time the MDA deal closes in June, Orbital expects to have raised $350 million through divesting non-core businesses. The company plans to sell its Magellan and Navigation Solutions units, having recorded a $50 million loss on these businesses last year.

Orbital's total losses for the year included the write-off of its remaining $111 million investment in mobile satellite service provider Orbcomm, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company also wrote off $24 million of its investment in earth-imaging venture Orbimage. Orbital recorded a $19 million charge for NASA's cancellation of its X-34 reusable launch vehicle technology demonstrator.


Despite a net loss from continuing operations for 2000 of over $228 million, Orbital says its core space systems business experienced strong demand, with $1.2 billion in new contracts taking the year-end backlog to $4.2 billion.

This year began strongly, with a $160 million order from PanAmSat for three geosynchronous communications satellites and a $56 million deal with Taiwan for six remote-sensing satellites.

Orbital is one of the largest independent space systems specialists in a sector dominated by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and TRW.

Source: Flight International