Palo Alto, CA - Space Systems/Loral (SSL) a leading provider of commercial satellites today announced it was awarded a contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to study on-orbit robotic assembly of geostationary communications satellites. Called Dragonfly, the program is designed to enable larger and more powerful satellites that cannot be launched fully assembled, to be packaged in pieces within a standard launch vehicle fairing.
“The Dragonfly program gives SSL the opportunity to demonstrate our advanced robotics capabilities with a mission that has the potential to transform the way satellites are built,” said John Celli, president of SSL. “SSL has a track record of partnering with DARPA on cost-effective developments that leverage commercial practices and apply to both military and commercial use.”
As one of the world’s most prolific manufacturers of geostationary communications satellites, SSL brings a wealth of expertise to the Dragonfly study including heritage robotics. The Dragonfly concept, which is designed to have both military and commercial applications, is for satellites to self-assemble from an efficiently stowed state while in orbit with a focus on the installation and reconfiguration of large radio frequency (RF) antenna reflectors.
The study is scheduled for a five-month first phase during which SSL will seek to demonstrate how assembling satellites on orbit could lower satellite cost and mass, while at the same time enabling higher satellite performance. SSL is planning to further develop on-orbit satellite assembly capability and as part of this effort, has submitted a proposal to NASA for collaboration on taking the concept to a ground demonstration followed by a flight application.
SSL, a subsidiary of MDA, is a leading provider of commercial satellites with broad expertise to support satellite operators and innovative space related missions. The company designs and manufactures spacecraft for services such as direct-to-home television, video content distribution, broadband Internet, mobile communications, and Earth observation. As a Silicon Valley innovator for more than 50 years, SSL’s advanced product line also includes state-of-the-art small satellites, and sophisticated robotics and automation solutions for remote operations. For more information, visit www.sslmda.com.
MDA is a global communications and information company providing operational solutions to commercial and government organizations worldwide.
MDA's business is focused on markets and customers with strong repeat business potential, primarily in the Communications sector and the Surveillance and Intelligence sector. In addition, the Company conducts a significant amount of advanced technology development.
MDA's established global customer base is served by more than 4,800 employees operating from 11 locations in the United States, Canada, and internationally.
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.’s (MDA) common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "MDA."
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