MDA Gets Training and Operations Contract for OSIRIS-REx and SSL Subsidiary Gets NASA Discovery Mission Project

OSIRIS-REx readied for encapsulation. Credit: NASA.

Just before the holidays MDA received a contract from the Canadian Space Agency for which no press release was issued, though it was listed on the government’s  provide Public Works Buy and Sell procurement website.

The contract is for the OSIRIS-Rex mission and is valued at $4.2 million. SpaceQ contacted the Canadian Space Agency for details and were told by a media representative the contract was for “the provision of training sessions on the OLA (OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter) instrument, operations support as Instrument Engineer(s) (IEs), and engineering support for the OLA operations during Cruise and Asteroid Encounter Operations.”

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was launched last September and will rendezvous with asteroid Bennu in August 2018 and will return samples in 2023.

The flight unit of OLA, the Canadian Space Agency’s contribution to NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. OLA consists of two parts: an electronics box (left) and the sensor head (right) housing two lasers that fire short laser pulses and a receiver to capture the beam that will bounce back from the surface of the asteroid Bennu. Credit: NASA / Goddard / Debora McCallum.

MDA SSL Subsidiary Gets NASA Discovery Mission Project

Yesterday NASA announced two new Discovery Missions to explore the asteroids to learn more about the early solar system. One of the missions, Psyche, will explore asteroid 16 Psyche and the spacecraft platform will be built by MDA’s U.S. subsidiary Space Systems Loral (SSL).

Asteroid 16 Psyche is one of the largest asteroids in the asteroid belt and is a 210 km diameter asteroid and believed to be comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth’s core.

“This is an opportunity to explore a new type of world – not one of rock or ice, but of metal,” said Psyche Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University in Tempe. “16 Psyche is the only known object of its kind in the Solar System, and this is the only way humans will ever visit a core. We learn about inner space by visiting outer space.”

The contract value is US $75 million (approximately CA$100 million). The spacecraft will use the SSL 1300 platform which has been used in over 100 missions to date, according to MDA.



SSL 1300 platform. Credit: SSL.

“We are very pleased to be able to serve NASA and the U.S. government on an increasing number of missions,” said Howard Lance, chief executive officer of SSL MDA Holdings. “SSL brings a depth of resources and experience to scientific missions such as the exploration of 16 Psyche and we are committed to demonstrating how we can deliver innovative solutions to U.S. civilian, defense and intelligence agencies going forward.“


MDA Press Release:  MDA’s U.S. Business Unit, SSL, to Provide Spacecraft for NASA Asteroid Exploration Mission

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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