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MDA Pulls in $706 Million from Latest Canadian Radarsat Deal

By | January 10, 2013
      [Satellite TODAY 01-10-13] The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has issued a $706 million contract to information solutions and aerospace firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to build, launch and provide initial operations for the Canadian government’s Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM), MDA confirmed Jan. 10.
         The contract extends over a seven-year period, bringing MDA’s current backlog to approximately $2.9 billion. The government initially allocated $503 million over five years in its 2010 budget to develop the next phase of the Radarsat mission. Reports published Jan. 9 showed that the projected costs of the three-satellite constellation have grown from $600 million to more than $1 billion since the Radarsat program was established in 2005 and contracted out to (MDA) for project development. MDA recently submitted a revised proposal to the government for the construction phase of the constellation.
         The satellites will be used for maritime surveillance, disaster management and environmental monitoring over Canadian territory on land and at sea. Radarsat is scheduled to launch between 2016 and 2017.
         MDA President and CEO Daniel Friedmann said the new contract was exciting news for the company. “RCM builds on the world-leading geospatial and radar surveillance capabilities that MDA has developed through the Radarsat-1 and Radarsat-2 missions,” Friedmann said. “We are now greatly expanding these capabilities with benefits for Canada and for MDA.”
         MDA will augment the satellites so that information obtained from RCM can include repeat imaging of the same area at different times of day, dramatically improving the frequency of monitoring coastal zones, northern territories, Arctic waterways and other areas of strategic and defense interest. RCM also will incorporate automated identification system technology, which when combined with the powerful radar images, supports the immediate detection and identification of ships worldwide.
         “This is a major step forward for MDA as a leader in the growing global surveillance and intelligence market,” said Friedmann. “With this contract, MDA has a strong foundation for continued development of its space missions, satellite ground systems, radar payload and geospatial services businesses.”
         The Radarsat constellation is turning into one of MDA’s most valuable business assets. In September, MDA signed a multi-million dollar sole source delivery order under its Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract with the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) for the provision of Radarsat-2 information to be used by the National Ice Center in creating ice charts supporting environmental monitoring and improving the safety of maritime navigation.
         In April, MDA signed a three-year, $1.7 million contract with the Dutch government to provide Radarsat-2 information to the Netherlands Space Office (NSO).
      MDA said the information from the Radarsat-2 satellite would be used to provide information for government users in the Netherlands, as well as for scientific and research purposes. The NSO was established by the Dutch Government in order to develop the Netherlands’ space program and to bring that program to action.
         The expanding Radarsat business, along with MDA’s purchase of manufacturer Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) this past summer have helped ease the company’s worries over the potential impact of Canadian government budget cuts. Last spring, MDA announced that was considering cutting its staffing levels after financial uncertainty arose surrounding the future of the federal Radarsat Constellation Mission.

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