MDA had added another satellite constellation order to its current backlog, this time for an undisclosed customer.
MDA did not provide a lot of detail in the news release posted last Friday. What we do know is this a $180 million Authorization to Proceed (ATP) contract will allow MDA to “commence engineering and programmatic activities” while the definitive contract is expected in 2024.
MDA did say that the undisclosed customer’s full constellation is expected to include a minimum of 36 satellites in Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO) and that MDA would be the prime contractor. MDA also made a point to mention that NGSO can include low Earth orbit (LEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO). Perhaps the customer will be in a MEO orbit.
What is interesting about the contract is the type of satellites they will build for the customer. MDA said the satellites will be from their new product line announced in Paris, their software-defined digital satellites.
The features of MDA’s software-defined digital satellites include:
- A new class of standardized and modular software-defined satellites enabled by a suite of innovative digital payload technologies that meet multiple non-geostationary orbits and frequencies, with dynamic in-orbit reconfiguration, maximizing delivered capacity and quality of service to users with unprecedented power efficiency.
- A scalable regenerative on-board processor with a built-in software-defined packet router, optimizing communication routes within a constellation between user links, gateway links and optical inter-satellite links.
- A family of digital beamforming-enabled electronically-steered direct radiating arrays addressing multiple non-geostationary orbits and frequencies, with direct RF conversion and native beam hopping capability compliant to DVB standards.
- An innovative constellation software suite comprised of advanced onboard flight telecom software, a real-time digital payload simulator and a scalable constellation network manager.
- An efficient and modular digital payload solution designed for manufacturing to enable faster delivery at substantially reduced cost using MDA’s industry-leading Satellite Manufacturing 5.0 capabilities leveraging automated production lines and AI-enabled robots, cobots and high-skilled assemblers using augmented reality to accelerate mass production.
When MDA announced the new product line Dan Goldberg, President and CEO of Telesat said this on MDA’s new software-defined digital satellites, “as we considered next-generation technologies for Telesat Lightspeed we revisited MDA’s digital solution and it was a game changer. It is much more efficient than the analog solutions we had been considering previously, and capable of delivering roughly three times the number of beams. MDA has continued to invest in their digital satellite technology, resulting in our ability to decrease our satellite bus size without compromising our service performance, resiliency or overall usable capacity in our network.”
Should the customer proceed with a full constellation, MDA stated it would be “valued at a minimum of $750 million.”