MDA, a Maxar Technologies company, has secured a deal with a UK pioneer of sensors for one of the first space drones.
The company has announced that its recently acquired Neptec UK company has secured a contract with Effective Space, a pioneer of last-mile logistics in space, for the supply of a space flight LIDAR and infrared camera for its on-orbit servicing Space Drone spacecraft.
Capable of extending the life of ageing satellites by as many as 15 years, the Space Drone spacecraft uses MDA’s LIDAR and infrared camera to confidently and safely approach and dock with orbiting geostationary satellites.
Two Space Drone spacecraft will be launched into orbit in 2020.
MDA will execute the project from its newly-expanded UK business.
To allow the Space Drone spacecraft to accurately approach other spacecraft for servicing, MDA sensors will be used to generate a 3D picture of the target spacecraft, providing critical information on the distance to the other vehicle. Once docked, the Space Drone spacecraft will provide attitude and orbit control for the combined vehicle, allowing the satellite to continue operating.
Mike Greenley, group president of MDA, said: “The ability to perform safe rendezvous and docking will be a vital part of future space exploration, whether it is applied to extension of satellite life, de-orbiting space debris, or building the next generation of space stations and human outposts.
“We are fortunate to be able to immediately leverage our recent expansion of MDA’s UK business to exploit past investments by the UK Space Agency, in full alignment with the UK Space Agency’s strategy to establish an on-orbit servicing industrial capability. As the established world leader in space sensors and robotics, we are pleased to expand this capability through our UK business.”