SSL (company)

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SSL
Subsidiary
Industry Aerospace
Founded 1957
Headquarters Palo Alto, California
Parent MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates
Website www.sslmda.com

SSL, formerly Space Systems/Loral, LLC (SS/L), of Palo Alto, California, is a wholly owned manufacturing subsidiary of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA). SSL designs and builds satellites and space systems for a wide variety of government and commercial customers. Its products include high-powered direct-to-home broadcast satellites, commercial weather satellites, digital audio radio satellites, Earth observation satellites and spot-beam satellites for data networking applications.

On June 26, 2012 SSL was acquired for $875 million by the Canadian aerospace company MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA). SSL was acquired in 1990 for $715 million by Loral Corp. from Ford Motor Company as the Space Systems Division of Ford Aerospace. The company was founded as the Western Development Laboratories (WDL) of Philco (Philco-Ford since 1966).

SSL's customers include AsiaSat, Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk. (BRI), Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation, Bulgaria Sat (Bulsatcom), DirecTV, EchoStar, Eutelsat, Globalstar, Hispasat, Hughes Network Systems, ICO Global Communications, Intelsat, Japan MTSAT, JSC Gascom, Loral Skynet, NASA/NOAA (GOES), NBN Co, Optus, PanAmSat, Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN), QuetzSat, Satmex, SES S.A., SES World Skies, Shin Satellite, Singtel, Sirius Satellite Radio, Sky Perfect JSAT Corporation, SpainSat, Star One, Telenor, Thaicom, ViaSat, WildBlue, and XM Satellite Radio.

In 1960, the Courier 1B, built by then Philco, became the world's first active repeater satellite.

SSL has recently pioneered research in electric propulsion systems, lithium-ion power systems and the use of advanced composites on commercial satellites, which permit significant increases in the size and power of a satellite’s payload and extends the satellite’s on-orbit lifetime. SSL also has developed new service-enhancing technologies such as super power systems for direct-to-user applications and ground-based beam forming, a technology that uses both satellite and terrestrial assets to provide mobile users with increased coverage and capacity capabilities.

SSL’s major competitors are Boeing Satellite Systems, Lockheed Martin, Thales Alenia Space, Airbus Defence and Space and JSC Information Satellite Systems[citation needed].

As of December 2014, there are 78 SSL-built GEO satellites currently on orbit.[1]

1300 Series Platform[edit]

Main article: LS-1300
Artist impression of Optus C1, built on the LS-1300 platform

Previously called the LS-1300 platform and the FS-1300 platform, SSL manufactures satellites based on its SSL 1300 series platform in Palo Alto, California. Satellites in the series include ProtoStar I, ICO G1, SIRIUS FM-6 and SES NEW SKIES NSS-12. As of January 2008 there were 48 satellites based on the 1300 series platform in service, with 4 more ready for launch and 14 others under construction.[2]

The company designed and built AsiaSat 8, which was launched on 5 August 2014, and AsiaSat 6, which went into orbit on 7 September 2014. The two satellite launches cost AsiaSat $110 million. The satellites were expected to last 15 years, and contain high-powered C-band transponders providing video and broadband services to the Asia-Pacific region.[3][4]

COTS proposal[edit]

SSL and Constellation Services International have proposed a reusable space tug based on the 1300 platform and a pressure-fed, low-cost Aquarius Launch Vehicle. The tug would be used to bring supplies to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.[2][5][6]

NASA eventually decided to pursue another proposal for this project. SSL, however, continues to provide Battery Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs), Battery Charge Discharge Units (BCDUs), and Sequential Shunt Units (SSUs) for the ISS.[7]

LADEE Mission[edit]

SSL designed and delivered a propulsion system based on their 1300 platform for the NASA LADEE mission. On April 17, 2014, between 9:30 p.m and 10:22 p.m. PDT, after successfully completing its goal to collect lunar dust and study the moon's atmosphere, NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft successfully completed a planned de-orbit, bringing an end to the mission to study the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere.[8][9] Using a private company to provide the propulsion system leverages the capability of commercially proven technology for U.S. Government missions.[10][11][12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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