UArizona Scientists Will Test Mars Exploration Drones in Iceland with $3 Million NASA Grant

TUCSON, Ariz. — A team of scientists led by Christopher Hamilton of the University of Arizona is gearing up to send drones on exploration missions across a vast lava field in Iceland to test a next-generation Mars exploration concept.

Hamilton is the principal investigator on a project that has been awarded a $3.1 million NASA grant to develop a new concept combining rovers and unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones, to explore regions of the red planet that have been previously inaccessible. These new Rover–Aerial Vehicle Exploration Networks will be tested in Iceland to explore volcanic terrains similar to those observed on Mars.

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Canada’s Top Space Highlights of 2020

Credit: Canadian Space Agency

LONGUEUIL, Que. (CSA PR) — It’s an understatement to say that 2020 was an exceptional year. As the year draws to a close, here’s a look at some of the most compelling, inspirational and incredible moments for Canada in space. Happy New Year!

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MDA Announces Contract for Canadarm3

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA announced today that it has been awarded a contract from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to develop Canadarm3, the third generation Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based robotic system destined for “Gateway”, a lunar-orbiting international space station. The contract involves the award of Phase A of the Canadarm3 program, with options for the follow-on phases.

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CSA Awards 6 Lunar Science Instruments Study Contracts

The Moon as viewed by NASA’s Mariner 10 in 1973, well before research would find signs of rust on the airless surface. (Credits: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University)

LONGUEIUL, Quebec (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is preparing Canada’s space community and collaborating sectors – including Canadian companies, universities, research institutions, and other organizations – for potential roles in the long-term exploration of the Moon. The Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) was created to provide a wide range of opportunities for Canadian science and technology activities in lunar orbit, on the Moon’s surface, and beyond.

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Maxar Awards MDA Contracts for On-orbit Servicing Technologies

OSAM-1 mission (Credit: NASA)

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA today announced that it has signed multiple contracts with Maxar Technologies to provide advanced space robotics technologies for the Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER), a technology demonstration on NASA’s On‑orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 (OSAM-1) mission.

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CSA Awards Contracts to Improve Earth Observation

Canada from space (Credit: RADARSAT-2 Data and products © MDA Geospatial Services Inc. 2014 – All rights reserved. RADARSAT is an official mark of the Canadian Space Agency)

LONGUEUIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — In a country as vast as Canada, observing Earth from space helps our government monitor and protect the environment and the North, manage our natural resources, and ensure the safety and security of Canadians.

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MDA Engineers, Scientists in Quebec Go on Strike

SAINTE-ANNE-DE-BELLEVUE, QC, July 4, 2020 (SSESA PR) — Given the employer’s refusal to stop its arbitrary and abusive practices, the Québec engineers and scientists of MDA, a leader in spaced-based radar and satellite communication systems, voted 87% in favour of a strike mandate. The Space Systems Engineers and Scientists Association (SSESA) criticizes the employer’s refusal to address job insecurity and loss of expertise issues, while merely proposing superficial and cosmetic modifications to the collective agreement.

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CSA Awards CAD $9 Million for Technology Development

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has awarded 14 contracts worth just over CAD $9 million (US $6.6 million) to eight companies under its Space Technology Development Program (STDP).

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) received a total of six contracts worth CAD $3.5 million (US $2.6 million). COM DEV of Cambridge, Ont., received a pair of contracts worth nearly CAD $1.6 million (US $1.1 million). And UrtheCast of Vancouver received a contract worth $999,916 (US $736,131).

“As part of a competitive process, proposals are selected based on the applicant’s (mainly industry) capacity to advance the development of specific space technologies for which they receive financial support of up to 75% of their project cost,” CSA said on its website.

The space agency plans to award additional contracts under the STDP. Details of the awards are below.

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Maxar Technologies Announces its Intention to Acquire Vricon, Inc. to Accelerate Growth for 3D Technology

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (Maxar Technologies PR) — Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, today announced its intent to exercise its call option to take full ownership of 3D data and analytics firm Vricon, Inc., for approximately $140 million, or approximately $115 million net of estimated cash at closing.

To fund the transaction, Maxar intends to issue $150 million in aggregate principal amount of new senior secured notes. Maxar has also agreed to repurchase $150 million in aggregate principal amount of existing notes using the proceeds of the recent sale of its MDA business.

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Canada Looks to MDA to Build Gateway Canadarm3 for Artemis Deep Space Missions

An artist’s concept of Canadarm3’s large arm on the Lunar Gateway. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

LONGUEUIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — Canada is taking another important step forward in its participation in the next chapter of Moon exploration. Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced Canada intends to enter into a contract with Brampton-based company MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Inc. (MDA) to build Canadarm3.

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Griffin, Porter to Depart Defense Department

Mike Griffin

Defense Department Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin and his deputy, Lisa Porter, have resigned from their posts effective June 10 to jointly pursue an unidentified opportunity in the private sector, Breaking Defense reports.

Griffin, who previously served as NASA administrator, was brought on board in February 2019 to overhaul the Pentagon’s costly and time-consuming research, development and procurement systems through the newly established Space Development Agency (SDA) and other measures.

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MDA Selects DDC-I’s Deos RTOS to Develop Communications System for SNC’s Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser lands (Credit: NASA)

PHOENIX, June 10, 2020 (DDC-I PR) — DDC-I, a leading supplier of software and professional services for mission- and safety-critical applications, today announced that its Deos safety-critical real-time operating system has been selected by Macdonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) for use in a communications subsystem destined for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser® Cargo System.

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Former Astronaut Tim Kopra Joins MDA

Tim Kopra (Credit: NASA)

BRAMPTON, ONT. (MDA PR) — MDA is pleased to announce that retired astronaut Tim Kopra will join its leadership team as Vice President of Robotics and Space Operations, effective immediately. As the leader for this business area, he will be responsible for the work of the robotics and space operations teams at MDA sites in Brampton, Ottawa, Saint-Hubert and Houston.

“We are thrilled to have Tim join our executive leadership team,” said Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer of MDA. “As we embark on the next decade of space exploration, with the Artemis lunar program, commercial on-orbit servicing and on-orbit manufacturing, as well increasing activity on Mars, MDA has a large role to play and I believe Tim’s operational experience and leadership skills will be essential to our continued growth and success.”

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Maxar Closes Sale of MDA Subsidiary

WESTMINSTER, Colo., April 8, 2020 (Maxar PR)– Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, today announced it has closed the sale of MDA, previously a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, to a consortium of investors led by Northern Private Capital for CAD$1 billion. Net proceeds, including customary adjustments, and after application of currency hedges related to the transaction is expected to be approximately US$729 million.

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