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MDA Awarded Next Contract for Flagship Canadarm3 Program

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
July 26, 2021
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An artist’s concept of Canadarm3’s large arm on the Lunar Gateway. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

MDA receives $35.3 million [US $28.1 million] contract for long-lead Gateway External Robotics Interfaces as part of multi-year, multi-phase $billion+ program

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PTR) — MDA Ltd. (TSX:MDA), a leading provider of advanced technology and services to the rapidly-expanding global space industry, today announced that it has been awarded a $35.3 million [US $28.1 million] contract from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for the design of the Gateway External Robotics Interfaces (GERI), a key component of Canadarm3 which will be installed on the international Lunar Gateway.

MDA has completed Phase A, the system definition phase of this GERI project. This new contract award covers the preliminary and detailed design of the robotic interfaces (Phases B and C), valued at $35.3 million [US $28.1 million].

“Canada is renowned for its ability to deliver advanced operational robotic systems for the most demanding international space missions and MDA is hard at work to develop Canadarm3 to support hundreds of future missions to and from the International Gateway. We are incredibly proud of our partnership with the Canadian Space Agency, and we look forward to leveraging this technology and know-how into commercial space markets while creating jobs in Canada,” CEO Mike Greenley said.

Today’s contract announcement is the third contract awarded to MDA in conjunction with the multi-year, multi-phase $1 billion plus [US $796.9 million] Canadarm3 program. MDA expects that a series of ongoing contracts will be issued in line with the major program phases and milestones.

Canadarm3 is Canada’s contribution to Gateway, a key element of Artemis, the NASA-led program to establish a sustainable presence on and around the Moon. Once completed, the Gateway will serve as a Moon-orbiting outpost that will sustain human presence on the Moon and as a staging point for the next generation of deep space exploration. In 2020, the Government of Canada announced its intention to enter into a contract with MDA to build Canadarm3.

The Gateway External Robotics Interfaces will provide critical connection points between Canadarm3’s large arm and small dextrous arm and items they attach or handle including the Gateway’s modules, payloads, replacement units and visiting spacecraft. The interfaces will also allow Canadarm3 to effectively walk around the outpost to perform external inspection, maintenance, repair and logistic activities; assemble and reconfigure the space station; capture and dock visiting spacecraft; load and unload payloads and science experiments; and support astronaut spacewalks.

These standardized connection points will be delivered in advance of Canadarm3 and installed on international partner-contributed modules. This early delivery will support the planned 2024 launch dates for NASA’s Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) and the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), currently under development.

Canadarm3 is the third generation robotic technology developed by MDA to serve as Canada’s contribution to an international space exploration endeavour. This advanced AI-enabled robotic system will be highly-autonomous, allowing the robotic elements to perform operations and make decisions during long periods when there is no contact with the Canada-based ground control operations centre.

With unmatched space operations capabilities supporting decades of international space missions, the Canadarm3 program will further strengthen Canada’s global leadership in mission-critical space robotics. The program will also position MDA for further expansion into the rapidly emerging global space market.

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