Canadian Manufacturing

Canada’s MDA wins $3.7M contract to support NASA asteroid mission

MacDonald Dettwiler will provide engineering services for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft's laser altimeter


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Technician preparing the laser altimeter for testing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Baltimore. PHOTO: NASA/Debora McCallum

VANCOUVER—MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. has won a $3.7 million contract with the Canadian Space Agency to lend operational support on a NASA mission to a nearby asteroid.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx launched last September and it is expected to reach the near-Earth asteroid Bennu in late 2018.

Under the new contract, MDA will provide engineering support for the spacecraft’s laser altimeter, which will allow researchers to create a high-resolution 3D model of the asteroid.

The altimeter is the CSA’s contribution to the mission and will gather ranging and topographic data of Bennu’s surface.

OSIRIS-REx is designed to take up to three samples on Bennu before returning to Earth. Scheduled to return to Earth in 2023, it will become the U.S. space agency’s first mission to return a sample from an asteroid.


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