Hughes Network Systems hiring more engineers to expand satellite services -- Gazette.Net







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Hughes Network Systems, one of Montgomery County’s largest private employers, has leased additional space in Gaithersburg to help accommodate hiring 60 more engineers by year’s end.

Headquartered in Germantown, the satellite communications company, with about 1,300 permanent employees, recently leased an additional 6,800 square feet in the 100 Lakeforest Boulevard office building.

It also runs a manufacturing plant in Gaithersburg.

To show its appreciation of the company’s growing presence in Gaithersburg, the City Council approved the company’s application for a city Tool Box grant of $12,756 at its regular meeting on July 7.

The grant of $12,756 will help Hughes cover the costs of moving into the office/lab space at 100 Lakeforest Boulevard expected by the end of August.

“They support stable, well-paying jobs,” said Tom Lonergan, the city’s economic development director.

The grants are calculated based on $2 per square foot leased, he said. The company will initially receive the pro-rated amount of $7,654 and the balance if it renews the lease in 2017.

“We’ve given about three dozen since 2010,” Lonergan said. “It’s to support businesses that have relocated to or are growing in the county.”

About 40 computer science and electrical engineers have already been hired, with about 20 more to join the company by the end of 2014, Hughes’ marketing communications director Judy Blake confirmed in an email Monday.

Most are recent college graduates who will be working both in Gaithersburg and Germantown on research and development projects and the company’s JUPITER 2 satellite project.

“This year we’re doing a bit more R&D projects than we have in the past,” Blake said.

Hughes also announced in March that it had chosen Space Systems/Loral based in Palo Alto, Calif., to build JUPITER 2/EchoStar XIX, which will be the world’s highest capacity broadband satellite, according to a Hughes press release.

Planned for launch in mid-2016, the satellite and its ground station equipment will serve North American customers of HughesNet, the world’s largest high-speed satellite Internet service, according to the release.

HughesNet had 659,000 subscribers as of the end of 2012, many of them in rural areas that don’t have cable service. Dish Network, for example, resells HughesNet services to its customers, Blake said.

“We want to expand that to a million or more,” she said, adding that Hughes also sells and manages satellite networks for corporations and governments around the world.

About 925 employees work in the Germantown headquarters on Observation Drive, and about 195 work at 100 Lakeforest Boulevard, according to Lynne Rusnak, a senior director in Hughes’ human relations department.

The factory on Industrial Drive in Gaithersburg, which makes modems and routers that receive the satellite signals, employs about 186 permanent people, plus 187 temporary workers, according to Rusnak and Blake.

Hughes traces its roots back to the founding of Digital Communication Corp. in Rockville by eight former Comsat employees in 1971. Hughes became part of EchoStar in 2011.

“While it’s a nominal grant, the intent of it is to show the city values their presence, and we hope they stick around for a very long time,” Lonergan said.