SSL, DARPA Sign Satellite Servicing Agreement

DARPA Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites Program satellite. (Credit: DARPA)

PALO ALTO, Calif., April 12, 2017 (SSL PR) Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced that it has signed and executed an agreement with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop advanced capabilities for servicing and maintaining spacecraft in geostationary orbit.  Details of the partnership were previously released on February 9, 2017.

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Space Systems Loral Sues Orbital ATK Over Alleged Theft of Trade Secrets

Artist’s conception of Restore-L servicing satellite with Landsat 7. (Credit: NASA)

Even before the first robotic satellite servicing mission is launched, there have been two — count ’em, two — robotic satellite servicing lawsuits.

Space Systems/Loral is suing rival Orbital ATK over an alleged theft of proprietary data and business plans for an in-space satellite servicing technology, according to a complaint filed on Thursday.

The lawsuit is the second in six weeks involving the companies and their efforts to start a new industry servicing and repairing satellites in orbit.

At least four confidential SSL documents were viewed and distributed by an Orbital ATK employee working at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where the data is stored as part of an ongoing SSL partnership with the U.S. space agency, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia….

SSL, a subsidiary of Canada-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., said it was informed of the data breach by NASA in December 2016.

Orbital acknowledged the unauthorized access of SSL’s data and fired the employee, but did not respond to questions about the scope of the breach or about five other Orbital employees whom NASA said may have read the SSL documents, the lawsuit said.

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A Look at Payloads Launched in 2016

Built by Lockheed Martin, the WorldView-4 satellite will expand DigitalGlobe’s industry-leading constellation of high-accuracy, high-resolution satellites, and double the availability of 30 cm resolution imagery for commercial and government customers around the globe. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Excerpt from

The Annual Compendium of
Commercial Space Transportation: 2017

Federal Aviation Administration
Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST)

January 2017

State of the Payload Industry

Space industry companies and organizations worldwide, sometimes the same as launch vehicle manufacturers but also those specifically dedicated to spacecraft manufacturing, produce these spacecraft. Commercially launched payloads are typically used for the following mission types:

  • Commercial communications satellites;
  • Commercial remote sensing or Earth observation satellites;
  • Commercial crew and cargo missions, including on-orbit vehicles and platforms;
  • Technology test and demonstration missions, usually new types of payloads undergoing test or used to test new launch vehicle technology; and
  • Other commercially launched payloads, usually satellites launched for various purposes by governments of countries not having indigenous orbital launch capability.

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DARPA Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) Program Fact Sheet

DARPA Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites Program satellite. (Credit: DARPA)

DARPA Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) Program
Fact Sheet

Overview

National security increasingly demands a high degree of flexibility on orbit, including an ability to repair and upgrade satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO). The technical challenges of performing such functions in GEO are significant, but success could substantially revolutionize military and commercial space operations, lower satellite construction and deployment costs, and improve satellite lifespan, resilience, and reliability—precisely the kind of high risk/high reward opportunity that DARPA was created to pursue. RSGS is a research and demonstration effort that aims to speed the arrival of capabilities such as high-resolution inspection; correction of otherwise mission-ending mechanical anomalies such as solar array and antenna deployment malfunctions; assistance with relocation and other orbital maneuvers; and installation of attachable payloads, enabling upgrades to existing assets.
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DARPA Selects Space Systems Loral for GEO Satellite Servicing Mission

DARPA RSGS Robotic Servicing Vehicle utilizing MDA US Systems robotic arms to repair a satellite on orbit. (Source: DARPA)

WASHNIGTON (DARPA PR) — In an important step toward a new era of advanced, cost-effective robotic capabilities in space, DARPA today announced that it has selected Space Systems Loral (SSL), based in Palo Alto, CA, as its commercial partner for the Agency’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program.

DARPA and SSL seek to develop technologies that would enable cooperative inspection and servicing of satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), more than 20,000 miles above the Earth, and demonstrate those technologies on orbit. If successful, this research and demonstration effort would open the door to radically lowering the risks and costs of operating in GEO, a harsh and difficult-to-access domain that is critically important for both military and civilian space assets.

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Members of Congress Urge DARPA to Reconsider Satellite Servicing Program

Four members of Congress have sent letters to DARPA asking the defense agency to review a satellite servicing program they believe duplicates other efforts by a commercial company and NASA.

“We are concerned that DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellite (RSGS) program is duplicating commercial investment and capability in violation of National Space Policy and contrary to the best interests of taxpayers,” reads one letter signed by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA).

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SSL to Provide Spacecraft for NASA Asteroid Mission

The Psyche mission spacecraft will include a multispectral imager, which will be led by an ASU science team and will provide high-resolution images using filters to differentiate between the asteroid’s metallic and silicate components. (Credit: SSL)
The Psyche mission spacecraft will include a multispectral imager, which will be led by an ASU science team and will provide high-resolution images using filters to differentiate between the asteroid’s metallic and silicate components. (Credit: SSL)

Palo Alto, Calif. (SSL PR) Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced that it will provide a spacecraft platform for a NASA Discovery Mission to explore the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche. SSL will work for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to support Principal Investigator Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of Arizona State University’s (ASU) School of Earth and Space Exploration, in a mission to research the 210 km diameter asteroid, which is believed to be the only place in the solar system where a metal planetary core can be studied. As the industrial partner, SSL will provide the “power-propulsion chassis,” a highly capable composite structure spacecraft platform equipped with a high-power solar electric propulsion (SEP) system.

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Firmamentum Wins Contract to Manufacture Comsat Component in Space

Tethers_Unlimited_LogoBOTHELL, Wash. (Tehters Unlimited PR) – Firmamentum, a division of Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI), announced that it has signed a contract with Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, to prepare a flight demonstration of in-space manufacture of a component on a communications satellite.

Firmamentum’s in-space manufacturing hardware is intended to fly as part of SSL’s “Dragonfly” program, which will demonstrate in-space robotic assembly of geostationary (GEO) communications satellites, enabling dramatic improvements in GEO satellite performance and mission flexibility.

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NanoRacks Teams With SSL, ULA on NextSTEP-2 Habitat Development

Concept image representing the feasibility study that NanoRacks will conduct related to converting a launch vehicle's upper stage into a habitable volume. (Credit: NanoRacks)
Concept image representing the feasibility study that NanoRacks will conduct related to converting a launch vehicle’s upper stage into a habitable volume. (Credit: NanoRacks)

HOUSTON, Texas (NanoRacks PR) – NASA has selected the Ixion Initiative Team, comprised of NanoRacks, LLC (“NanoRacks”), Space Systems/Loral, LLC (“SSL”), and United Launch Alliance (“ULA”) – the nation’s premier launch provider, to participate in the Agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (“NextSTEP-2”) program.

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Space Systems Loral to Supply Robotic Arms for DARPA Satellite Servicing

DARPA RSGS Robotic Servicing Vehicle utilizing MDA US Systems robotic arms to repair a satellite on orbit. (Source: DARPA)
DARPA RSGS Robotic Servicing Vehicle utilizing MDA US Systems robotic arms to repair a satellite on orbit. (Source: DARPA)

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 21, 2016 (SSL PR) — Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it has received $20.7 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design and build robotic arm flight hardware for the first phase of the agency’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program. SSL is receiving the funds through MDA US Systems, a division of MDA managed by SSL, and is working with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which is the prime contractor managing the program.

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Mike Gold Leaves Bigelow for Space Systems Loral

space_systems_loralMike Gold has left Bigelow Aerospace to become vice president of Washington, DC, operations for Space Systems Loral (SSL). Gold has served in a similar role for Bigelow Aerospace since 2003.

“Expanding our DC-Area office demonstrates our commitment to further build on the work we are doing with US government agencies,” said SSL President John Celli. “Michael Gold brings a wealth of experience with both civil and defense organizations and will strengthen our ability to make a contribution to government programs.”

Here’s the press release:

PALO ALTO, Calif., May 9, 2016 — Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of commercial satellites, today announced that Michael Gold has assumed the role of Vice President, Washington, DC Operations at SSL. Mr. Gold, who previously served as Director of D.C. Operations and Business Growth at Bigelow Aerospace, will expand SSL’s Washington, D.C. presence to support the company’s increasing U.S. government business.

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SSL Advances Solar Electric Propulsion With Busek

SSL concept for solar electric propulsion spacecraft (Credit: SSL)
SSL concept for solar electric propulsion spacecraft (Credit: SSL)

PALO ALTO, CA, Feb. 10, 2016 (SSL PR) – Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of commercial satellites, today announced that it is collaborating with a U.S. technology innovator, Busek Co, Inc. to advance the current capability of solar electric propulsion systems. SSL and Busek plan to build on the current collaboration specifically to address the future needs of NASA and other U.S. government agencies.

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NASA Selects 18 Proposals for Asteroid Redirect Mission Studies

In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)
In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 18 proposals for studies under the Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).  These six-month studies will mature system concepts and key technologies and assess the feasibility of potential commercial partnerships to support the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, a key part of the agency’s stepping stone path to send humans to Mars.

The agency is working on two concepts for the mission. The first concept would fully capture a very small asteroid in free space and the other would retrieve a boulder off of a much larger asteroid. Both concepts would redirect an asteroid mass less than 10 meters in size to orbit the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) would rendezvous with the captured asteroid mass in lunar orbit and collect samples for return to Earth.

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Justice Department Seeks More Information on MDA Takeover of SS/L

Richmond, BC (MDA PR) — MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., a provider of essential information solutions, announced that it has today received a request for additional information, often referred to as a “second request” from the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), in connection with MDA’s proposed acquisition of Space Systems/Loral Inc. (“SS/L”). A second request may be a part of the review process under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (“HSR Act”). The second request seeks additional information primarily regarding MDA’s Montreal satellite communications antenna and payload business.

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