MDA working on mega-constellation
November 21, 2023
By Chris Forrester
Canada-based satellite builder MDA Space is working on a low Earth orbiting constellation but is staying silent on the name of the client.
What is known is that the initial value (Authorisation to Proceed/ATP) of the contract is C$180 million (€119.8m) and the full value of the complete constellation is placed at C$750 million.
MDA says the ATP is to immediately commence engineering and programmatic activities, including the procurement of long-lead items. The constellation is for a minimum 36 software-defined digital satellites, which are based on a new MDA product recently unveiled to the market. MDA will be the prime contractor and expects to agree and finalise the full contract next year.
MDA is riding on the crest of a wave. It is building a $327 million constellation for Globalstar (to launch in 2025) and a major 198-craft contract from fellow Canadian satellite operator Telesat and its Lightspeed constellation and due to start launching in mid-2026.
Trying to identify who the MDA client might be futile, but there are suggestions that SES could be in the market for either polar orbiting satellites for its mPOWER fleet, or for its re-filed Cleosat constellation (for L- and S-band) initially specified as 62 satellites to serve a direct-to-handset market which would fly at 850 kms.