MDA Receives Commercial Contracts for On-orbit Servicing Technologies

Media Release: November 17, 2020

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.


MDA will deliver an enabling technology suite of advanced robot control software and interfaces to help achieve assembly and servicing tasks never done to date. These include:


  • A dexterous end effector;
  • Robotic arm control software;
  • Motor control software;
  • Robotic console command and control software and computers;
  • Grapple fixtures and targets for on-orbit assembly interfaces, and
  • Compact cameras and controllers for situational awareness and robotic arm operation.


MDA will also deliver the Motor Control Electronics and Arm Control Electronics on the SPIDER robotic arm. These essential components drive and control each of the motors and joints of the arm as well as providing the data routing and interfacing between joints and cameras.


The work on these three contracts will be performed at MDA facilities in Brampton and Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. These products will be delivered in mid-to-late 2021 and incorporated into Maxar’s robotic system. They will not only support the goal of making on-orbit assembly commercially viable, but could also support other on-orbit services like debris removal, anomaly resolution, life extension, and salvage of stranded spacecraft.


There is a clear need to service the world's space infrastructure, both commercial and government, and MDA is well positioned to address this burgeoning market. MDA has unparalleled and proven space servicing capabilities developed through various government programs over the last 40 years, including the Canadian government’s Canadarm program for the US Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs as well as other on-orbit servicing demonstrations such as the successful DARPA Orbital Express mission and NASA’s Robotic Refueling Missions on the space station. As a result of this deep heritage and know-how, MDA boasts 21,000 hours of robotic operations – including 100+ free flyer vehicle and satellite captures and 1000+ grasping operations – over 38 years in orbit with a 100% mission success rate.

“These contracts position MDA for continued success in the commercial space robotics market, an emerging business area forecast to generate global revenues in excess of USD $4.5 billion in the next 10 years. Our work on this program will leverage over 40 years of spaceflight heritage and a successful track record in the design, development and operational support of space robotics.”

- Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer, MDA


·         The OSAM-1 mission, formerly known as Restore-L, will demonstrate robotic servicing technologies in orbit, including satellite refueling, assembly and in-space manufacturing. The SPIDER payload’s lightweight 16-foot (5-metre) robotic arm will assemble multiple antenna reflector elements to form a single, functional 9-foot (3-metre) communications Ka-band antenna.
















Serving the world from its Canadian home and global offices, MDA is an international space mission partner and a robotics, satellite systems and geointelligence pioneer with a 50-year story of firsts on and above the Earth. With over 1,900 employees across Canada, the US and the UK, MDA is leading the charge towards viable Moon colonies, enhanced Earth observation, communication in a hyper-connected world, and more. With a track record of making space ambitions come true, MDA enables highly skilled people to continually push boundaries, tackle big challenges, and imagine solutions that inspire and endure to change the world for the better, on the ground and in the stars.





Maxar is a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure. We deliver disruptive value to government and commercial customers to help them monitor, understand and navigate our changing planet; deliver global broadband communications; and explore and advance the use of space. Our unique approach combines decades of deep mission understanding and a proven commercial and defense foundation to deploy solutions and deliver insights with unrivaled speed, scale and cost effectiveness. Maxar’s 4,000 team members in 20 global locations are inspired to harness the potential of space to help our customers create a better world. Maxar trades on the New York Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange as MAXR. For more information, visit





Leslie Swartman