MDA receives contract for Tranche 1 Tracking Layer Constellation

Advanced technology specialist MDA has been contracted to develop a Tranche 1 Tracking Layer programme for the Space Development Agency.

MDA was awarded a contract by L3Harris Technologies, a U.S.-based technology company and defence contractor. MDA will be tasked with designing and constructing flight sets of Ka-Band steerable antennas and control electronics for the Space Development Agency’s low earth orbit constellation. A press release reveals that the design, building, assembly and testing of the antennas and other devices will be conducted at the MDA high-volume satellite production facility in Montreal.

“We are very pleased to work with L3Harris on this important space security program as the need for space-based capability increases,” said Mike Greenley, CEO of MDA. 

“This award from one of the largest U.S. defence industry primes is a strong endorsement of MDA’s best-in-class design and manufacturing capabilities and another example of our strategy in action as we expand MDA’s share of the growing global LEO constellation market.”

MDA claims to have executed over 350 satellite missions as of June 7, 2023, with work on 950 active satellites in orbit. 

MDA’s contract with L3Harris Technologies and the Space Development Agency follows news of a strategic cooperation agreement between the company and Thoth Technology Inc. (Photo: NASA/free to use)

MDA boosts presence following domain awareness contract

MDA’s contract with L3Harris Technologies and the Space Development Agency follows news of a strategic cooperation agreement between the company and Thoth Technology Inc. 

Thoth is a company based in Ontario, Canada, with a radar facility that will work to “advance, develop and deliver transformative capabilities in deep space radar surveillance and SDA.”

The cooperation agreement will see MDA construct a deep space radar surveillance and space domain awareness (SDA) capability. The agreement will also see MDA’s commercial data services featuring within Thoth’s ground-based radar technology. This will reportedly lead to “unprecedented levels” of deep space monitoring, which could improve the locating and naming of various objects in space. 

Thoth is a company that currently utilises emerging radar technology by the name of Earthfence to detect and identify Resident Space Objects in geosynchronous orbit. MDA will reportedly offer its web-based data services to process the data that is captured by Eearthfence, and will also act as the customer platform for all manner of data requests.

“This collaboration is a natural fit for MDA, and we’re excited to be part of bringing Thoth’s unique deep space radar technology to build this space domain awareness capability in Canada,” said Mike Greenley, CEO of MDA. “MDA currently operates the Department of National Defence Sapphire spacecraft, the only non-U.S. space-based contributor to the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, and with this agreement with Thoth, we are well positioned to continue to provide critical space domain awareness capabilities that are an essential part of space surveillance and space security.”

“In an increasingly congested and contested space environment, operators of complex satellites need to ensure that their technology is safe,” said Dr. Caroline Roberts, Thoth Technology President and CEO. “Leveraging the innovative work of Dr. Brendan Quine, CEO of ThothX and an expert in radar technologies, our Earthfence technology provides unprecedented levels of space traffic awareness day or night and Thoth is the only commercial provider of this service. As a growing Canadian business, we are thrilled to have the support and data expertise of an established company like MDA.”

In February 2023, MDA announced the news that it had been contracted to supply multibeam antennas for Argentina’s ARSAT-SG1 satellite. This was the first contract agreement between MDA and government-owned telecommunications company ARSAT. 

ARSAT-SG1 has been described as a “high throughput full electric geostationary communications satellite.” MDA’s multibeam antennas will be constructed at MDA’s aforementioned facility in Montreal, and the components are expected to be delivered midway through 2024.  

“It is a privilege to work with ARSAT to build these antennas that will help bring enhanced digital connectivity to Argentina and neighbouring countries,” said Mike Greenley, CEO of MDA at the time.

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