Monday, September 22, 2014

MacDonald Dettwiler Now a Commercial Satellite Powerhouse

          by Brian Orlotti

Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettweiler and Associates' (MDA) flag has been flying high over the past month with the winning of three large contracts. Those wins testify to the strength of the commercial space industry.

The beginning of the most recent string of successes was covered in the September 8th, 2014 Cantech Letter post, "MacDonald Dettwiler has become a “global commercial satellite powerhouse,” says Global Maxfin," which discussed the announcement that US subsidiary Space Systems Loral (SSL) had been selected to provide a communications satellite for BulgariaSat, an affiliate of leading Bulgarian telecommunications company Bulsatcom.

On the same day, the company stated that Export Development Canada (a Federal Crown corporation which provides financing and risk management services to Canadian exporters) had completed a $250Mln CDN financing package enabling Spanish satellite operator Hispasat SA to purchase a new communications satellite from MDA.

As discussed in the September 19th, 2014 Canadian Manufacturing article, "MDA building $19.8M data system for European Space Agency," the two initial September successes were followed up by the September 19th, 2014 announcement that the MDA UK subsidiary had been granted a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) valued at $19.8Mln CDN for the development and construction of a Ka-band data relay terminal for the ESA's Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS).

.Most communication satellites operate in the lower frequency C- and Ku-bands and one way to increase the amount of information or data per unit of time transmitted is to use a higher radio frequency. The Ka-band has a greater bandwidth (in other words, it has a higher capacity for data transfer) and allows smaller spacecraft and ground stations. Graphic c/o The Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) webpage. 

The data relay terminal will complement the ISS' existing communication systems and, by using the Ka-band, will provide greater bandwidth and enable faster delivery of scientific data and HD video and images between the space station and ground stations. 

MDA’s continued growth can be viewed as a result of its 2012 acquisition of California-based SSL. MDA's $875Mln USD ($963Mln CDN) purchase of SSL in 2012 enabled access to an extensive list of clients in both the US and European markets including AsiaSat, DirecTV, EchoStar, Eutelsat, Globalstar, Hispasat, Hughes Network Systems, ICO Global Communications, Intelsat, Japan, MTSAT, JSC Gascom, Loral Skynet, NASA/NOAA(GOES), NBN Co, Optus, PanAmSat, QuetzSat, Satmex, , SES World Skies, SES S.A., Sirius Satellite Radio, SpainSat, Star One, Telenor, ViaSat, WildBlue, and XM Satellite Radio.

In essence, the SSL acquisition has transformed MDA into a commercial satellite powerhouse and telecommunications industry leader. Other contributing factors to MDA's success include its aggressive bidding approach and continuing expansion of its RADARSAT program, wrapped around the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), set for launch in 2018.

Brian Orlotti.
MDA's continued success in difficult economic times is a testament to the company's farsighted and pragmatic decision-making. Time will tell whether this success will continue through the coming decades.

Brian Orlotti is a Toronto-based IT professional and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support our Patreon Page