SSL to provide robotic arms to DARPA for satellite servicing

PASADENA, CA, July 21, 2016 /CNW/ - Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it has received $20.7 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design and build robotic arm flight hardware for the first phase of the agency's Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program. SSL is receiving the funds through MDA US Systems, a division of MDA managed by SSL, and is working with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which is the prime contractor managing the program.

The contract is for two complete robotic arm systems, which would be able to carefully capture and berth with satellites that were not previously designed for docking. The robotic arms would each have multiple joints enabling dexterous movement and could carry and use multiple generic and mission-specific tools. Building on contracts announced in both 2012 and 2013 for prior DARPA research into space robotics, the total contract value awarded now stands at over $40 million, and could grow further if all remaining options are exercised.

"The ability to safely and cooperatively service satellites in GEO would expand public and private opportunities in space. It could enable entirely new spacecraft designs and operations, including on-orbit assembly and maintenance, which could lower construction and deployment costs while extending satellite utility, resilience and reliability," said Al Tadros, vice president, Civil and DOD Business at SSL.

The goal of the RSGS program is to cooperatively inspect, capture, reposition, repair, and upgrade GEO spacecraft. The DARPA-developed hardware and software toolkit, which includes the robotic arms, is planned to be integrated onto a commercially owned and operated servicing vehicle to provide on-demand servicing in space.

"Our work with DARPA and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory leverages many years of experience with robotics applications in space," said Steve Oldham, vice president, Strategic Business Development at SSL. "We are very pleased to participate in the RSGS flight demonstration program, which is expected to make on-orbit servicing a reality."

SSL has the ability to build on robotics technologies proven on the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station and the Mars lander and rovers. The company recently announced other missions with the U.S. government and is working with DARPA and NASA to develop robotic on-orbit satellite assembly. SSL is also the industry partner for a potential NASA Discovery Program mission to the asteroid Psyche and is participating in a first-phase study for a spacecraft bus for NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission.

About SSL

SSL, a subsidiary of MDA, is a leading provider of commercial satellites with broad expertise to support satellite operators and innovative space related missions.  The company designs and manufactures spacecraft for services such as direct-to-home television, video content distribution, broadband internet, mobile communications, and Earth observation.  As a Silicon Valley innovator for more than 50 years, SSL's advanced product line also includes state-of-the-art small satellites, and sophisticated robotics and automation solutions for remote operations.  For more information, visit

About MDA

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 13 locations in the United States, Canada, and internationally.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.'s (MDA) common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "MDA."

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Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains forward-looking statements and information, which reflect the current view of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. ("MDA" or the "Company") with respect to future events and financial performance.  The forward-looking statements in this regard include statements regarding the next phase of a government contract.  Any such forward-looking statements are based on MDA's current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions in light of its experience and its perception of historical trends. The factors and assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements in this release include contracts with any government agency not being terminated.  Any such forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations. MDA cautions readers that should certain risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary significantly from those expected. The risks that could cause actual results to differ from current expectations include, but are not limited to: changes in government priorities, mandates, policies, funding levels, contracts and regulations; failure of third parties and subcontractors; and failure of systems to meet performance requirements.

For additional information with respect to certain of these risks or factors, plus additional risks or factors, reference should be made to the Company's continuous disclosure materials filed from time to time with Canadian securities regulatory authorities, which are available online under the Company's profile at or on the Company's website at

The Toronto Stock Exchange has neither approved nor disapproved the form or content of this release.

SOURCE MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.

For further information: Wendy Keyzer, MDA External Relations, (604) 231-2743,


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