PALO ALTO, Calif. – July 18, 2014 — Space Systems/Loral (SSL), a leading provider of commercial satellites, today announced that it was one of the companies selected by NASA to study system concepts and key technologies for NASA’S Asteroid Redirect Mission, which is expected to be a key part of the agency’s path to sending humans to Mars. SSL will conduct two studies; one that examines using MDA robotic technology for asteroid capture, and one that examines adapting commercial spacecraft for the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle.
“SSL is committed to helping NASA leverage the value of commercial partnerships,” said John Celli, president of SSL. “The Asteroid Redirect Mission is an excellent example of how we can bring together SSL’s commercial bus and MDA robotics technology in support of NASA programs.”
SSL and MDA will work together with Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation on the “Autonomous Boulder Liberation Equipment” study. The companies will collaborate to demonstrate the robotic placement and handling of excavation and capture tools to remove a boulder from the surface of an asteroid.
Honeybee has more than two decades of experience developing planetary sampling and processing systems. Its work is highly complementary to MDA robotics, which are in current use on the International Space Station and on the Mars Rovers.
“Under SSL’s leadership, we have an exceptional team of experts to plan out the boulder liberation mission,” said Stephen Gorevan, chairman and co-founder of Honeybee Robotics. “This is a great opportunity for Honeybee to apply our heritage of planetary sampling technology with a strong partner in the industry. We’re excited to be working with SSL to support NASA’s mission and contribute to future human planetary exploration.”
For the “Asteroid Redirect Vehicle” study, SSL will examine how to adapt commercial spacecraft and will define system concepts that leverage SSL’s commercial bus, the SSL 1300. With 74 commercial satellites based on this platform currently in geostationary orbit, it provides a very cost-effective and well-proven design that can be adapted to a variety of applications.
SSL has already proven its capability to leverage its commercial platform in support of NASA initiatives with the propulsion system for NASA’s recent Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft, which successfully completed its mission earlier this year.
In a statement released last month, James Reuther, deputy associate administrator for Space Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington said: “By investing in these studies, NASA will gain valuable insight into affordable ways to perform the Asteroid Redirect Mission while also advancing technologies needed to drive future exploration missions.”
SSL has a long history of delivering reliable satellites and spacecraft systems for commercial and government customers around the world. As a leading provider of commercial satellites, the company works closely with satellite operators to provide spacecraft for a broad range of services including television and radio distribution, digital audio radio, broadband Internet, mobile communications, and Earth observation. Billions of people around the world depend on SSL satellites every day. 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.