Spotlight | Space Systems/Loral

The Hum of Excessive Quantity

PALO ALTO, Calif. — House Methods/Loral’s manufacturing facility buzzes with exercise. Throughout a Feb. 11 media briefing on Telenor Satellite tv for pc Broadcasting’s Thor 7 spacecraft, SSL engineers and technicians have been assembling, integrating and testing 11 satellites within the firm’s facility right here.

Excessive demand has prompted SSL to spice up manufacturing capability and improve services. In late 2014, the corporate started exposing satellites to temperature extremes in a brand new thermal vacuum chamber, a blue chrome steel cylinder giant sufficient to carry two satellites the scale of college buses back-to-back. It’s SSL’s second thermal vacuum chamber and its building means the agency will save time as a result of it is not going to need to ship satellites to outdoors testing services when its unique vacuum chamber, in-built 1969, is occupied, SSL President John Celli stated. Final yr, SSL additionally added a clear room giant sufficient to accommodate a Boeing 737 jet.

The brand new services are designed to assist SSL accommodate orders from conventional satellite tv for pc operators who provide bandwidth for tv broadcasts, personal enterprise networks, information and voice communications, shopper broadband, and cell communications for maritime and aviation markets, in addition to from new prospects like PT Financial institution Rakyat Indonesia (BRI).

“With tons of of hundreds of thousands of people that don’t have satellite tv for pc providers, there’s loads of room for continued progress,” SSL President John Celli stated. Credit score: SSL

“The entire capability out there from satellite tv for pc operators within the area was not projected to be sufficient to satisfy the long run wants of BRI,” Celli stated. In consequence, BRI employed SSL in April 2014 to construct a C-band and Ku-band satellite tv for pc to orbit at 150.5 levels east longitude to transmit safe communications for its 9,800 branches and 50 million prospects all through the Indonesian archipelago.

Along with the BRI award, SSL gained contracts in 2014 to construct eight geostationary satellites: two satellites for Sky Excellent Jsat of Japan, two for Spanish satellite tv for pc operator Hispasat, and single satellites for EchoStar Corp. of Englewood, Colorado; Intelsat of Washington and Luxembourg; Pasifik Satelit Nusantara of Jakarta; and Bulgaria Sat, an affiliate of Bulsatcom, Bulgaria’s largest supplier of paid tv and telecommunications providers. Skybox Imaging of Mountain View, California, which was acquired in June 2014 by Google, additionally chosen SSL in 2014 to construct 13 spacecraft to collect high-resolution nonetheless imagery and video from low Earth orbit.

Though 2014 was SSL’s busiest yr by way of contract awards, firm officers say the agency is properly outfitted to deal with further orders. “I’ve been on this enterprise for 40 years and I’ve solely seen progress within the satellite tv for pc trade,” Celli stated. “With tons of of hundreds of thousands of people that don’t have satellite tv for pc providers, there’s loads of room for continued progress.”

In anticipation of sturdy demand, SSL, with the backing of its guardian firm, Canada’s MDA Corp., has labored to streamline inner processes, management prices, shorten schedules and replace applied sciences.

“We’re re-evaluating our strategy to all features of our enterprise, and within the course of, we now have been capable of remove outdated or duplicative procedures and give attention to new expertise improvement,” Celli stated.

A few of that improvement is targeted on SSL’s high-throughput satellites, that are more and more widespread amongst prospects searching for to transmit information and video providers on to prospects. SSL has almost accomplished building of two Ka-band excessive throughput satellites for NBN Co. Ltd. The satellites are designed to supply Web broadband providers in rural and distant areas of Australia utilizing 101 particular person spot beams on every spacecraft.

Telenor’s Thor 7 satellite tv for pc (above in meeting and take a look at at SSL’s facility) is designed to be versatile sufficient to satisfy altering market calls for and carry out a number of missions. Credit score: SSL

Telenor’s Thor 7 satellite tv for pc, scheduled to launch April 15 from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 rocket, is designed to carry out a number of missions. The satellite tv for pc carries a Ka-band payload to supply maritime communications and a Ku-band payload to supply radio and tv providers in Central and Jap Europe.

Thor 7 is designed to be versatile sufficient to satisfy altering market calls for, stated Oddveig Tretterud, Telenor’s Thor 7 program director. The spacecraft can function as many as 25 Ka-band spot beams concurrently and carries a steerable Ka-band reflector.

More and more, prospects are searching for spacecraft versatile sufficient to accommodate altering market calls for, which is resulting in standardization of satellite tv for pc parts. The purpose is to supply satellites that may be constructed and launched in 18 months with the shopper configuring sure parts of the payload in orbit.

House Methods/Loral at a Look

Location: Palo Alto, California

Established: 1957 as Philco Western Growth Laboratories

Mother or father Firm: MDA Corp.

Prime Official: John Celli, president

Mission: Design and construct essentially the most dependable, inexpensive spacecraft and house programs to allow international communications, commerce, schooling, leisure, well being providers, catastrophe restoration and Earth remark.


“That has the potential to cut back the satellite tv for pc value for our prospects.” Celli stated. “We’re one of many satellite tv for pc producers pushing this. We plan to bid the primary versatile satellite tv for pc quickly.”

SSL is one the world’s largest satellite tv for pc producers. Established in 1957 as Philco Western Growth Laboratories, SSL was bought by Ford Aerospace in 1976, Loral House and Communications in 1990 and MDA in 2012. SSL constructed 78 of the roughly 300 business communications satellites in orbit and the agency has a backlog of twenty-two geostationary satellites.

Prior to now, SSL has centered totally on constructing giant satellites to ship into geostationary orbit for business and authorities prospects. Beneath the manufacturing cope with Skybox signed in February 2014, SSL obtained an unique license to market the startup’s design, “an revolutionary bus for low Earth orbit missions,” stated David Bernstein, SSL senior vp of program administration. SSL is actively advertising that bus and encountering important curiosity from organizations all over the world, Steve Oldham, SSL vp for strategic enterprise improvement, stated by electronic mail.

Intelsat 20 satellite tv for pc within the excessive bay at SSL. Credit score: SSL

Lately, SSL additionally has been on the lookout for methods to cut back the price of entry to geostationary orbit for its prospects, corresponding to hosted payloads and shared rides. In 2017, SSL plans to host a payload for NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle on a business communications satellite tv for pc that has not but been recognized. As a part of the venture, often known as Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, NASA Goddard plans to conduct a two-year take a look at of its potential to transmit information by way of optical hyperlinks.

SSL, Boeing Community and House Methods of El Segundo, California, and Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia, are working underneath a U.S. Air Drive contract to check methods every agency might host a NASA atmospheric sensor on a business satellite tv for pc in geostationary orbit. The sensor, Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Air pollution, is slated to launch in 2018.

In a variation on the hosted payload thought, SSL is working with the U.S. Protection Superior Analysis Tasks Company on an initiative referred to as Payload Orbital Supply. Beneath a contract awarded in July 2014, SSL is constructing {hardware} to allow a DARPA satellite tv for pc weighing 68 to 100 kilograms to hitch a trip with a communications satellite tv for pc to geostationary orbit on an SSL 1300 business satellite tv for pc platform earlier than being ejected. Payload Orbital Supply is a component of DARPA’s Phoenix program, which is investigating choices for robotic servicing of spacecraft in geostationary orbit. Via Payload Orbital Supply, DARPA is searching for to cut back the price and time required to launch authorities science and expertise missions.

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