NASA awards SSL next phase funding for Dragonfly on-orbit assembly program, demonstrates confidence in public private partnership for space robotics
Media Release: September 11, 2017
SSL successfully completes preliminary Dragonfly ground demonstration, proves concept for semi-autonomous robotic assembly of geostationary communications satellites
Palo Alto, CA-SSL, a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced that NASA has awarded the next phase of funding for its ground-breaking Dragonfly on-orbit satellite assembly program. The contract modification to move forward with the detailed design of a semi-autonomous robotic system for in-space satellite assembly confirms NASA’s confidence in SSL and the success of this “Tipping Point” public private partnership, which is enabling the development of new technology that benefits both government and commercial space endeavors.
SSL and its partners, which include MDA, NASA, and Tethers Unlimited, recently successfully completed a ground demonstration of the Dragonfly developments to date. The demonstration included an ultra-light robotic system and advanced command and control software that is designed to make use of existing spacecraft equipment and capabilities, including a standard geostationary (GEO) spacecraft platform and processor. It proved SSL’s concept of highly dexterous on-orbit operations that are expected to drive next generation satellite architectures.
"NASA relies on commercial innovation as exemplified by the Dragonfly team," said Trudy Kortes, TDM program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Transformative technologies such as these will, in time, lead to more affordable, safer human access to space and more efficient, longer-lasting satellites, probes and other space hardware. Today our future in space looks brighter and more robust than ever."
“SSL has a history as an early adopter of innovative technologies that improve satellite performance,” said Dario Zamarian, group president, SSL. “Our work with NASA to develop next-generation robotic assembly on orbit has the potential to change the way satellites are built and launched and will also be important for future space architectures that support exploration and deep space missions. We are pleased to have NASA’s continued support of this important work, which is critical to our nation’s leadership in space.”
As one of the world’s highest volume manufacturers of geostationary communications satellites, SSL brings a wealth of expertise to the Dragonfly program. SSL is the only spacecraft manufacturer with the ability to build on robotics technologies proven on the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station and the Mars lander and rovers, and to fully integrate that technology with its world leading communications satellite platform.
Dragonfly strengthens SSL’s position as a leader in technologies and systems for more complex on-orbit assembly and servicing as part of a future ecosystem that will enable deep space exploration, persistent satellite platforms, on-space habitats, and missions.
Please visit SSL’snew websitewhich reflects the company’s broad capabilities as a provider of integrated space technologies and systems.
Space Systems Loral (SSL), based in Palo Alto, California, is a leading provider of advanced spacecraft systems, with broad expertise to support commercial and government satellite operators and innovative space missions. The company designs and manufactures spacecraft for services such as direct-to-home television, video content distribution, broadband internet, mobile communications, in-orbit servicing, space exploration, and Earth observation. As a Silicon Valley innovator for 60 years, SSL’s advanced product line includes state-of-the-art small satellites, and sophisticated robotics and autonomous solutions for remote operations. SSL is a subsidiary of SSL MDA Holdings, Inc., a U.S. operating company. For more information, visit www.sslmda.com.
About SSL MDA Holdings
SSL MDA Holdings is a wholly owned subsidiary of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) and serves as the operating company for all MDA businesses. SSL MDA Holdings is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
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 15 locations in the United States, Canada, and internationally. The Company's common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol TSX:MDA. For more information, visit www.mdacorporation.com.