MacDonald, Dettwiler gets go-ahead for work on space project for U.S. government

VANCOUVER – MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (TSX:MDA) has received several U.S. government contracts for advanced technology projects, including work related to the Phoenix program for reusing parts from old communication satellites that are circling the earth.

Among other things, the Vancouver-based company — supplier of robotic arms used on the International Space Station and NASA shuttle missions — has been authorized to advance work on a system for putting small packages into orbit during regular satellite launches.

MDA says its innovative payload orbital delivery system, or POD, will be able to deliver a new class of very small “satlets” into geostationary orbit using excess capacity during satellite launches.

It says the POD demonstration project is being funded by the U.S. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the Phoenix program, which is developing ways to re-use valuable components from retired, non-working satellites in orbit.

MDA says it has begun work on the next phase of the Phoenix program, with related contracts expected to total about US$10 million.

MDA also announced it had received a US$2.9-million contract from the U.S. Naval Research Labratory to provide a satellite ground system, which will process information from the RADARSAT-2 satellite.