MDA to provide mission-critical sensors for the Space Drone on-orbit servicing spacecraft built by Effective Space
(18 July 2018 - MDA) MDA today announced that a contract was signed between its recently acquired Neptec UK company and Effective Space, the UK company pioneering last-mile logistics in space, for the supply of a space flight LIDAR and infrared camera for its on-orbit servicing Space Drone spacecraft.
Capable of extending the life of ageing satellites by as many as 15 years, the Space Drone spacecraft uses MDA's LIDAR and infrared camera to confidently and safely approach and dock with orbiting geostationary satellites. Two Space Drone spacecraft will be launched into orbit in 2020, as part of a $100 million contract with a major regional satellite operator. MDA will execute the project from its newly expanded United Kingdom business.
Effective Space's Space Drone spacecraft (courtesy: Effective Space)
To allow the Space Drone spacecraft to accurately approach other spacecraft for servicing, MDA sensors will be used to generate a 3D picture of the target spacecraft, providing critical information on the distance to the other vehicle. Once docked, the Space Drone spacecraft will provide attitude and orbit control for the combined vehicle, allowing the satellite to continue operating.
The technology that will enable this mission was developed at the laboratories on Harwell Campus in the UK, through funding and support from the UK Space Agency. The space LIDAR was designed to form part of an automated landing system for a lunar lander. Capable of operating safely and reliably in the harsh environment of space, LIDAR is also perfectly suited for rendezvous and docking in Earth orbit. The LIDAR uses reflected pulses of light from a laser to build a 3D map of any target, be it the moon or another spacecraft.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with Effective Space on this project," said Mike Greenley, group president of MDA. The ability to perform safe rendezvous and docking will be a vital part of future space exploration, whether it is applied to extension of satellite life, de-orbiting space debris, or building the next generation of space stations and human outposts. We are fortunate to be able to immediately leverage our recent expansion of MDA's UK business to exploit past investments by the UK Space Agency, in full alignment with the UK Space Agency's strategy to establish an on-orbit servicing industrial capability. As the established world leader in space sensors and robotics, we are pleased to expand this capability through our UK business. "
"This mission, and others like it, will provide key steps towards an exciting future for the burgeoning on-orbit servicing market, and we are pleased to leverage MDA's technology base to support UK companies such as Effective Space, and with MDA playing a key role," said Kerry Sanz, Programme Manager at MDA.
"Space exploration pushes the boundaries of human ingenuity and produces new technologies that often have commercial applications," said Libby Jackson, Human Spaceflight and Microgravity Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency. This is a great example which highlights the value of our investment in European Space Agency exploration programmes and the capabilities of the UK's growing space sector."
"Ensuring our spacecraft are able to efficiently and safely rendezvous with satellites was a critical requirement for us, and NEPTEC's LIDAR and infrared camera technologies were the standout choice," added Arie Halsband, Founder and CEO, Effective Space. "MDA has extensive experience developing solutions for some of the most challenging problems in space and we're excited to be working closely with them to advance on-orbit servicing."
MDA is an internationally recognized leader in space robotics, space sensors, satellite payloads, antennas and subsystems, surveillance and intelligence systems, defence and maritime systems, and geospatial radar imagery. MDA's extensive space expertise and heritage translates into mission-critical defence and commercial applications that include multi-platform command, control and surveillance systems, aeronautical information systems, land administration systems and terrestrial robotics. MDA is also a leading supplier of actionable mission-critical information and insights derived from multiple data sources. Founded in 1969, MDA is recognized as one of Canada's most successful technology ventures with locations in Richmond, Ottawa, Brampton, Montreal, Halifax and the United Kingdom. MDA is a Maxar Technologies company (TSX: MAXR) (NYSE: MAXR).
About Maxar Technologies
As a global leader of advanced space technology solutions, Maxar Technologies (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates) is at the nexus of the new space economy, developing and sustaining the infrastructure and delivering the information, services, systems that unlock the promise of space for commercial and government markets. As a trusted partner, Maxar Technologies provides vertically-integrated capabilities and expertise including satellites, Earth imagery, robotics, geospatial data and analytics to help customers anticipate and address their most complex mission-critical challenges with confidence. With more than 6,500 employees in over 30 global locations, the Maxar Technologies portfolio of commercial space brands includes MDA, SSL, DigitalGlobe and Radiant Solutions. Every day, billions of people rely on Maxar to communicate, share information and data, and deliver insights that Build a Better World. Maxar trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange as MAXR.
About Effective Space
Headquartered in the UK, Effective Space is pioneering last-mile logistics in space. It deploys and operates a fleet of small Space Drone spacecraft that will deliver, position, maintain, monitor and guarantee space assets in orbit and beyond.
Its 'Phase One' rollout is based on an existing solid business case: life-extension services to operators of satellites in geosynchronous-earth-orbit (GEO). Services include station-keeping and attitude-control, relocation, orbit and inclination correction, deorbiting and 'bringing into use' (BIU).
The Space Drone platform is well capable of supporting evolving Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellations, Active Debris Removal (ADR), Lunar and Mars exploration, as well as manufacturing and asteroid mining logistics.