MDA secures contract to provide lunar landing sensors as planned moon missions ramps up
Harwell based MDA Ltd. a leading provider of advanced technology and services to the rapidly-expanding global space industry, has announced a contract with an undisclosed US-based space company for a key landing sensor for a 2023 mission to the moon. This award was made as part of the company’s project involving NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
“Momentum is building as governments and private sector organizations work hand in glove on a shared mission that will take us back towards the moon and beyond,” said Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer of MDA. “MDA is proud to be part of that collaboration and we look forward to supporting the upcoming missions to the lunar surface where our robotics and sensor technologies will play an important enabling role.”
Today’s announcement follows a similar contract announced in August to provide lunar landing sensors to Intuitive Machines. These contracts are indicative of the growing commercial opportunity associated with a renewed interest in moon missions from governments and commercial organizations around the globe.
According to Euroconsult, approximately 130 missions are expected by the end of the decade, compared to 52 missions conducted over the prior decade. All of the missions require sensors. MDA has developed a full suite of affordable, standardized sensor products designed for use in lunar landings, orbital debris removal, rendezvous and docking as well as Earth observation, ideally positioning the company for further expansion.
The landing sensors for the mission announced today will be delivered from MDA’s Harwell UK office. This technology is a result of a strong partnership with the UK Space Agency, which has supported the development of MDA’s two commercial lunar landing sensors – LEIA (Lidar) and FLARE (Laser Range Finder).
Speaking to the importance of international collaboration, David Kenyon, Managing Director of MDA UK said, “no one gets to the moon on their own and strong partnerships are critical to mission success. We are grateful for the collaboration and support from the UK Space Agency on our suite of commercial landing sensors which will ensure that MDA and the UK are at the forefront of a new commercial space race.”
While FLARE will be used for flatter, less risky landing areas, the contract announced today will use the LEIA technology, which enables landings in more treacherous locations. Through its use of 3D models to navigate around obstacles, LEIA provides an opportunity to access a greater number of sites and essential resources.