PASADENA, CA, July 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it has received $20.7 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design and build robotic arm flight hardware for the first phase of the agency's Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program. SSL is receiving the funds through MDA US Systems, a division of MDA managed by SSL, and is working with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which is the prime contractor managing the program.
The contract is for two complete robotic arm systems, which would be able to carefully capture and berth with satellites that were not previously designed for docking. The robotic arms would each have multiple joints enabling dexterous movement and could carry and use multiple generic and mission-specific tools. Building on contracts announced in both 2012 and 2013 for prior DARPA research into space robotics, the total contract value awarded now stands at over $40 million, and could grow further if all remaining options are exercised.
"The ability to safely and cooperatively service satellites in GEO would expand public and private opportunities in space. It could enable entirely new spacecraft designs and operations, including on-orbit assembly and maintenance, which could lower construction and deployment costs while extending satellite utility, resilience and reliability," said Al Tadros, vice president, Civil and DOD Business at SSL.
The goal of the RSGS program is to cooperatively inspect, capture, reposition, repair, and upgrade GEO spacecraft. The DARPA-developed hardware and software toolkit, which includes the robotic arms, is planned to be integrated onto a commercially owned and operated servicing vehicle to provide on-demand servicing in space.
"Our work with DARPA and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory leverages many years of experience with robotics applications in space," said Steve Oldham, vice president, Strategic Business Development at SSL. "We are very pleased to participate in the RSGS flight demonstration program, which is expected to make on-orbit servicing a reality."
SSL has the ability to build on robotics technologies proven on the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station and the Mars lander and rovers. The company recently announced other missions with the U.S. government and is working with DARPA and NASA to develop robotic on-orbit satellite assembly. SSL is also the industry partner for a potential NASA Discovery Program mission to the asteroid Psyche and is participating in a first-phase study for a spacecraft bus for NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission.
Space Systems Loral (SSL) is a leading provider of commercial satellites with broad expertise to support satellite operators and innovative space related missions. The company designs and manufactures spacecraft for services such as direct-to-home television, video content distribution, broadband internet, mobile communications, and Earth observation. As a Silicon Valley innovator for more than 50 years, SSL's advanced product line also includes state-of-the-art small satellites, and sophisticated robotics and automation solutions for remote operations. For more information, visit www.sslmda.com.
This news release contains forward-looking statements and information, which reflect the current view of Space Systems Loral (SSL) with respect to future events and financial performance. When used in this news release, the words "believes", "expects", "plans", "may", "will", "would", "could", "should", "anticipates", "estimates", "project", "intend" or "outlook" or other variations of these words or other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements and information. Actual results may differ materially from the expectations expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements as a result of known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Known risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to: risks associated with operating satellites and providing satellite services, including satellite construction or launch delays, launch failures, in-orbit failures or impaired satellite performance; risks associated with satellite manufacturing, including competition, cyclicality of SSL's end-user markets, contractual risks, creditworthiness of customers, performance of suppliers and management of SSL's factory and personnel; risk associated with financial factors such as volatility in exchange rates, increases in interest rates, restrictions on access to capital, and swings in global financial markets; risks associated with domestic and foreign government regulation, including export controls and economic sanctions; and other risks, including litigation. The foregoing list of important factors is not exhaustive. The information contained in this news release reflects SSL's beliefs, assumptions, intentions, plans and expectations as of the date of this news release. Except as required by law, SSL disclaims any obligation or undertaking to update or revise the information herein.