TAMPA, Fla. – An undisclosed customer is paying C$180 million (US$131 million) for MDA to begin engineering a non-geostationary satellite constellation of 36 satellites.
MDA said in a brief press release dated November 17 that the value of the deal could increase at least four-fold if the Canadian space hardware company steps forward to become the prime contractor for the constellation next year.
MDA spokeswoman Amy McLeod declined to provide further details about the Authorization to Proceed (ATP) contract, which kicks off early work on a satellite project such as procurement of long-range elements.
This is the second customer order announced by MDA for the design of a new software-defined satellite that can be reconfigured in orbit to respond to changes in demand.
Telesat selected MDA’s latest spacecraft product this summer for 198 750-kilogram satellites, and the Canadian operator aims to begin deployment in mid-2026 for its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Lightspeed broadband constellation.
Based on a different spacecraft design, MDA is also providing US firm Globalstar with 17 LEO satellites in 2025 to upgrade a constellation used by Apple for space-enabled emergency services in the iPhone.
McLeod said MDA is busy expanding production facilities in Montreal to accommodate growing demand from constellation customers, and aims to eventually have the capacity to produce two satellites per day.
Production volumes are “increasing in line with customer orders,” she said, without going into details.
Although MDA has successfully produced satellite components at scale, including 2,000 antennas delivered for OneWeb’s LEO constellation, Caleb Henry, a Quilty Analytics analyst, said building three constellations at once would create risks. Manufacturer’s schedule.
“MDA’s recent claim to fame is its combination of digital payloads and advanced beam-forming antennas that have the advantage of reducing size, weight, and power (SWaP) on spacecraft,” Henry added via email.
“In a world where spacecraft tend to keep getting bigger, this technology offers a rare opportunity to get smaller without sacrificing capacity.”
Telesat has become the lead customer for MDA’s latest satellite platform after abandoning Lightspeed plans with Europe’s Thales Alenia Space, which the Canadian operator said would cost an additional $2 billion.
Armand Musi, a satellite industry analyst and founder of Summit Ridge Group, said MDA could take on another project from a competing manufacturer with higher costs.
The contract also comes weeks after MDA closed its acquisition of SatixFy Space Systems UK Ltd, the satellite payload subsidiary of UK-based Israeli company SatixFy.
MDA said on October 31 that the acquisition will accelerate the company’s expansion in the UK, adding strategic in-country capacity to produce satellite payloads while helping develop new digital satellite product offerings.
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