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          Express AM5 payload in integration facility


          For more than five decades, MDA has developed and deployed advanced, innovative, flexible satellite payloads for customers around the world.

          MDA is a global leader in satellite communication payloads, and a trusted partner with satellite operating agencies, platform providers, and customers. Its superior engineering and quality payloads have shaped space-based telecommunications since the 1960s. Today, MDA expertise is advancing next-generation payloads for communications and Earth observation.

          MDA’s advanced solutions enable high efficiency without sacrificing durability and throughput, supporting the new generation of smaller, lighter satellites. In addition to hosted payloads, MDA offers complete payload solutions and mission design and management plans to emerging satellite prime contractors.

          MDA space-based synthetic aperture radar capabilities include the design, build, and overall industrial responsibility for RADARSAT-1, RADARSAT-2, and the next-generation RADARSAT Constellation Mission payloads.


          Communication payloads with tailored solutions for Fixed, Mobile and Broadcasting Satellite Services, operating in L, C, S, X, Ku or Ka-band.

          MDA has designed, assembled and delivered communication payloads of various sizes, including some of the largest currently in orbit which offer 14 kW of payload power. Recent payloads include Express AM5, Express AM6, Lybid, AMOS-6, BRIsat and PSN-VI. MDA’s communication payloads offer tailored solutions for a full range of missions delivering Fixed Satellite Services (FSS), Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) and Broadcasting Satellite Services (BSS) to millions of subscribers across the globe.

          Operating in L, C, S, X, Ku or Ka-band or any combination of those bands, the transponders are optimized and thoroughly verified to deliver predictable, reliable, high-performance communication links throughout the operational life of the satellite.

          AM6MDA’s communication payload systems are designed with state-of-the-art space technologies such as communication antennas, Low Noise Amplifiers (LNA), frequency converters, input and output multiplexers, Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers (TWTA), all of which have demonstrated excellent in-orbit performance and reliability. From defining the initial conceptual payload architecture to in-orbit testing, the exceptional product performance delivered to multiple international customers has given MDA a world leader reputation in the communication payload market.

          MDA is committed to delivering to our customers the highest performing satellite payloads with the best value and on a reliable schedule.


          MDA advocates flexibility in communications satellite payload design and performance, and is a leading developer of advanced technologies that enable flexible power and bandwidth distribution in FSS, BSS, MSS, and HTS satellites.

          MDA’s flexible payload heritage dates to the 2004 launch of the world’s first DVB-RCS compliant processor on the ANIK F2 satellite. Today, the company’s flexible payload designs embrace a range of capabilities, capacities, and functions that include basic channelizers, regenerative routers, time domain switching, up to full payload flexibility.

          The digital component of a flexible payload is key in terms of functionality and efficiency, but it requires equally flexible RF and antenna systems for optimal performance. MDA provides flexible, standalone payloads as well as integrated payload, RF, and antenna solutions for C-, X-, Ku-, and Ka-band applications, as well as V-band solutions for both commercial and defence programs.

          MDA’s ASIC and FPGA (software defined) technologies provide digital systems tailored to specific mission requirements, supported by powerful resource management software that enables maximum power and bandwidth efficiency from the spectrum and power resources available.

          Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Telesat


          MDA provides application-specific hosted payloads for host satellites developed by MDA and its industry-leading SSL division, or on satellites provided by other prime contractors.

          Hosted payloads enable entrepreneurs or government entities to obtain support within specialized space application areas without the commitment or cost of a full satellite mission. In many cases, hosted payloads for specific applications required specialized, advanced technology sensors, platforms, or other innovations.

          MDA hosted payloads support a broad range of applications, including remote sensing, specialized communications, data relay, geolocation and interference mitigation, and technology proof-of-concept demonstrations. In addition to providing custom hosted payloads through its regular stream of prime satellite provision, MDA can, through its SSL division, match a hosted payload with a host satellite, reducing wait times and minimizing time to market for an application.

          Synthetic Aperture Radar

          SAR payloads that include phased array antennas, transmit-receive modules and associated subsystems.

          MDA has designed, assembled and delivered advanced SAR payloads beginning with the exceptionally successful RADARSAT-1 that operated for almost two decades providing critical data to international customers. RADARSAT-2 followed extending the performance envelope to a polarimetric SAR offering high resolution stripmap, spotlight over extended swaths. The RADARSAT Constellation Mission, comprises three spacecraft with advanced SAR Payloads, is currently under construction and will provide unprecedented coverage offering advanced radar modes such as ship detection.

          MDA’s SAR payloads comprise state-of-the-art space technologies such as phased array antennas, Transmit-Receive Modules (TRM), Payload Controllers (PLCU), Central Electronics (CEU), Subarrays, Deployment Subsystems (DSS), Mass Memory Units (MMU) and Downlink Subsystems all of which have demonstrated excellent in-orbit performance and reliability. From defining the initial conceptual payload architecture to in-orbit testing, the exceptional product performance delivered to multiple international customers has given MDA a world leader reputation in the SAR market.

          MDA continues to improve its SAR ?payload capability by targeting its R&D to match user needs of the future. Developing technologies to support larger bandwidths, faster data rates, leading to advanced imaging modes and sub meter resolutions.

          ?Mission/Design Management

          MDA’s mission design and management capabilities support the full cycle of successful satellite delivery and operations.

          With a proven heritage in mission design and management dating to Canada’s Anik A in the 1970s, MDA is a leader in the implementation and support of satellite communications missions and operations.

          MDA has the experience and the capabilities to support its customers through the traffic analysis and link design phase, the satellite design phase, satellite construction, delivery, launch, post-launch maneuvers, and commissioning.

          payload design and analysisIn addition to delivering successful missions, MDA also provides in-depth, effective training that may be required by new mission operators for assured operational success in either commercial or government environments. Full training packages for customer agencies and, if needed, user systems training for their customers are available from MDA’s experienced space and ground systems engineering and business operations personnel.

          ?Data Transmission

          MDA is a leading provider of data transmission payloads, terminals, and subsystems, with a specialization in Ka-band intersatellite links that support LEO-to-LEO satellite communications, and data relay from LEO-to-GEO satellites.

          The company’s heritage in space data transmission includes the NASA TDRSS program in the 1980s, the Iridium 1 and 2 programs of the 1990s, and today’s European Data Relay System.

          Colka_Ka band Data Relay terminal for Columbus space station moduleWith a custom range of variously-sized tracking antennas that support the data relay payload and the LEO terminal, MDA also provides complete LEO terminals with antennas from 20 to 80 centimetres, providing both forward and return Ka-band links. MDA LEO terminals for scientific or remote sensing missions provide real time data transfer, or real time tasking of the satellite within the view of the Data Relay Satellite to complement standard Line of Site downlinks to regional ground stations.