Maxar Technologies, a U.S.-based global technology innovator powering the new space economy, today announced that it has been selected by NASA to study future systems that could revolutionize NASA’s space-based communications architecture through innovative technologies and commercial partnerships. The future architecture would be used for scientific and human exploration missions in Earth orbit, at the Moon, and throughout the solar system beginning in the mid-2020s.
NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Program currently offers space-based radio frequency communications services for all of the agency’s space communications activities via its Space Network. The Space Network consists of a constellation of geosynchronous satellites called TDRS and ground systems that operate as a relay system between satellites.
Leveraging current and planned commercial communication and navigation infrastructure, Maxar will study concepts to augment the Space Network with more advanced optical communications capabilities and enhanced radio frequency services. Maxar will also study a framework that allows for a transition from government-owned and managed space services to commercially developed and operated services. This future architecture could unlock the promise of human exploration, new and greater scientific discovery, and reduce development and operations costs for future missions through improved communication and navigation services.
“This award highlights Maxar’s ongoing commitment to the development of innovative space solutions that will open up a new realm of possibilities for human exploration,” said Megan Fitzgerald, Maxar’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Space Solutions. “This future architecture will be designed to yield significant development and operations savings over government-owned systems and will also provide the benefit of frequent technology advancements.”
Maxar has decades of experience in developing cutting-edge systems for space communications. The company has built some of the world’s highest capacity spacecraft, including JUPITER™ 1/EchoStar XVII and JUPITER 2/EchoStar XIX – which power HughesNet® high-speed satellite Internet service across the Americas. Maxar is currently building JUPITER 3, which will provide more concentrated capacity over high-use areas than any other satellite. Maxar has also contributed advanced concepts for the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation protected satellite communications architecture and has built more than 280 satellites, with 91 commercial communications satellites currently in service.
The operations of DigitalGlobe, SSL and Radiant Solutions were unified under the Maxar brand in February; MDA continues to operate as an independent business unit within the Maxar organization.