Canadian Manufacturing

MDA’s Space Systems/Loral to build 13 earth imaging satellites

Low earth orbit satellites will be used to shoot still photos, high-definition video of earth's surface

PALO ALTO, Calif.—A subsidiary of British Columbia-based communications firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) has won a contract to build 13 small earth imaging satellites.

According to MDA, commercial satellite manufacturer Space Systems/Loral (SSL) was awarded the contract by Skybox Imaging, Inc. to build a constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to be used for earth imaging.

“The contract award from Skybox is tangible evidence of our success in working with MDA to expand into new markets,” SSL president John Celli said in a statement.

“Based on SSL’s unique strengths as a satellite manufacturer and MDA’s heritage, we are developing new capabilities that will enable us to pursue other Earth observation and LEO satellite opportunities in the U.S. and abroad.”

Based on a Skybox design, the small satellites—each unit measures roughly 60x60x95 centimetres and weighs about 265 lbs.—will be used to capture colour still images and up to 90-second high-definition video clips of earth.

Once the satellites are launched, Skybox will be able to revisit any point on earth three times per day.

As part of the agreement, Skybox granted SSL an exclusive license to the satellite design.

MDA said the LEO satellites will be launched in 2015 and 2016.

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