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MDA Space awarded $1B contract to design and deliver Canadarm3 flight system

Follow-on contract kick-starts multi-year build phase, advances MDA Space commercial space robotics leadership position

MDA Space Ltd. has been awarded $1 billion from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for the next phases of the Canadarm3 program. The most advanced space robotics system ever conceived, Canadarm3 will be used aboard Gateway, a multinational collaboration led by NASA to establish a space station in lunar orbit to support human and robotic missions to the surface of the Moon – a key element of the Artemis program.

The contract includes funding for Phase C (final design) and Phase D (construction, system assembly, integration and test) of the full robotics system, comprised of a large arm, a smaller dexterous arm, specialized tools for performing maintenance and science tasks, as well as a ground segment for command and control. MDA Space will support commissioning of the Canadarm3 robotics system once in orbit from the company’s new mission control facility at its global headquarters and Space Robotics Centre of Excellence in Brampton, Ontario. The contract will also include planning and personnel training in preparation for on-orbit mission operations.

“We are entering an exciting period where Canadarm3 will take shape and come to life on our production floor. This critical investment in Canadarm3 reinforces and expands our national and industry leadership as a new era of space opens up,” said Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer of MDA Space. “This major milestone also reflects our strategy in action as we build our significant backlog and bring to market a new generation of commercial space products and services.”

Leveraging technology derived from Canadarm3, MDA Space has introduced a new suite of commercial space robotics, MDA SKYMAKERTM, which will provide customers globally with access to the world’s most flight-proven space robotics solutions and services. This contract is a key milestone in continuing to progress the development of our commercial technologies that will serve emerging markets such as commercial space stations, lunar surface rovers and landers, satellite servicing in all orbits, and in-space assembly and manufacturing. With commercialization being an important goal of the Canadarm3 program, MDA Space is already gaining traction in the rapidly-growing commercial space market.

“This contract highlights Canada’s commitment to the next chapter of lunar exploration. Building on the legacy of strategic investments in space robotics, Canadarm3 showcases our commitment to innovation,” added the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Beyond enhancing Canada’s position of developing and retaining top talents and world-renowned innovators, this initiative supports high-quality jobs and opportunities for growth within the country’s expanding space sector.” 

With hundreds of Canadian organizations expected to be involved in the Canadarm3 project, thanks to the application of Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy, Canada is supporting innovative small and medium-sized businesses and research organizations from across the country. In turn, these companies get to position their capabilities to support cutting-edge space-related activities, such as on-orbit servicing, refuelling of satellites, mission enhancement, orbital debris management and in-space infrastructure assembly. Canadarm3 is driving Canadian businesses and their technologies forward.

Phase C and D of the contract will involve over 200 Canadian companies in the MDA Space supply chain, supporting job creation, skills development and economic and export opportunities for the Canadian space industry.

The contract is expected to run until March 2030, and will be added to MDA’s backlog in the second quarter of fiscal 2024.

ADDITIONAL INFO

  • Currently planned to launch no earlier than 2029, Canadarm3 will be composed of a next-generation large robotic arm, a small dexterous arm and a set of specialized tools.
  • Canadarm3 operations will be conducted entirely from Canada, marking a significant step forward in capability, and securing Canada’s place among leading space-faring nations.
  • Over a 10-year period, Canadarm3 investments are expected to create and maintain more than 1,000 well-paying jobs in an industrial sector that is amongst the most innovative and R&D intensive.
  • In April 2024, MDA Space launched a suite of commercial robotics products and services derived from Canadarm technology. Two proposed commercial space stations, Axiom Station and Starlab Space LLC, have chosen Canadian space robotics for their ventures.
  • Committing Canadarm3 to Gateway ensures a bright future for Canada’s space program by securing two astronaut flights to the Moon, including Jeremy Hansen’s historic Artemis II mission, and allowing Canada to conduct cutting-edge research and technology development/demonstration that cannot be done on Earth.

 

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