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MDA signs robotic satellite contracts with Maxar

MDA has signed various contracts with Maxar Technologies, the former owner. The contract aims to deliver software and hardware for the Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER), a NASA plan for On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 (OSAM-1) mission. Speaking to SpaceNews, Mike Greenley, MDA CEO, said that these contracts are a sign of future opportunities that awaits MDA as it demonstrates technologies developed through large institutional programs and upcoming markets for on-orbit manufacturing. 

Mike said that the demand for MDA’s robotic system increases, saying it’s their chance to provide these systems into the market. He added that they are having some discussions with various companies worldwide seeking on-orbit servicing, and they are ready to utilize their commercial robotic solutions. 

Alex said that MDA had a lot of experience since they have offered engineering support for more than three million hours to on-orbit robotic operations. These include control rooms’ support, technical support, planning maneuvers support, and operations support. He added that they would use this operational experience to help commercial partners worldwide to operate the robotics. 

Alex also said that the contracts would help MDA to be successful in the commercial robotics market, with the hope of generating an additional $4.5 billion in ten years to come. He added that the mission would leverage over 40 years of viable scheduling, development, and space robotics’ operational support. 

MDA would deliver to Maxar the following: motor control software, compact controllers and cameras for situational awareness, dexterous end effector, robotic console command, grapple fixtures, control software and computers, targets for on-orbit assembly interfaces, and robotic arm operation. Some of these products are expected to be delivered late next year. 

Also, MDA will provide Maxar with arm control electronics and motor control electronics for the SPIDER robotic arm. These components are crucial since they help provide data routing and interfacing between cameras and joints. MDA technologies will help make on-orbit assembly commercially feasible and help provide support to other on-orbit services such as life extension, anomaly resolution, debris removal, and rescuing stranded spacecraft. 

OSAM-1 is expected to be launched in 2024, and Maxar is the one building this satellite and refuels it. Maxar will then conduct numerous demonstrations of the in-space robotic assembly, which includes SPIDER. In January, NASA gave Maxar a $142 million contract for the SPIDER demonstration. In April, Maxar announced that it wants to sell it to MDA for $729 million.

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