Richmond, BC (MDA PR) — MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (“MDA” or the “Company”) (TSX: MDA), a global communications and information company, announced today that it has been selected for additional robotics work for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Phoenix Program.
MDA has started work under the next phase of the Phoenix Program, with related contracts expected to total approximately US$10 million. The work will be carried out by both MDA and Space Systems/Loral (SSL).
Under these contracts, MDA seeks to develop advanced robotic tools, cameras, tool caddies and a new flexible, small robotic arm for the Phoenix mission. The work includes the development of a Payload Orbital Delivery system (POD) for the Phoenix mission.
“We are pleased to be providing the critical robotics for the Phoenix mission” said Don Osborne, MDA’s vice president responsible for this business. “The Phoenix mission aims to demonstrate several technologies and on-orbit operations.”
The POD concept is an innovative and cost-effective solution to rapidly deliver small packages to geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) using surplus capacity on regularly launched communication satellites. PODs seeks to demonstrate a new faster delivery capability for DARPA’s Phoenix mission and capability for future applications of assembly and servicing.
The POD concept aims to expand the hosted payload market by offering a flexible launch and delivery solution for smaller, unconventional payloads or missions. Specific to the Phoenix demo mission, the POD would deliver a new class of very small ‘satlets,’ similar in mass to nano satellites, which, when robotically attached to all or part of a retired satellite via Phoenix, would show the ability to create a new space system in orbit.
Already a key participant in the DARPA Phoenix program, MDA intends to provide a variety of servicing technologies and capabilities that build on MDA’s world leading capabilities, which include a 35-year heritage of robotics development and recent on-orbit servicing demonstration successes. Details of the original announcement were provided in the Company’s news release dated October 18, 2012.
“MDA is eager to move forward on key capabilities that the Phoenix mission intends to demonstrate,” Osborne added. “We believe the state of technology readiness, and our proven track record in hosted payloads and on-orbit servicing, would enable the success of the proposed Phoenix Demonstration Mission and sets the stage for future operational applications.”