SSL To Provide Next-Generation Imaging Satellite Constellation To DigitalGlobe

WorldView Legion. Image Credit: SSL

July 6, 2017 – MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) today announced that its subsidiary Space Systems Loral (SSL) was selected to provide a next-generation satellite constellation for high-resolution Earth imaging to DigitalGlobe, the global leader in Earth imagery and information about our changing planet. Called WorldView Legion, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites will more than double DigitalGlobe’s high-resolution capacity in important regions. The contract is valued at several hundred million U.S. dollars.

“This contract demonstrates our emerging leadership in Earth observation satellites and our broadening corporate capability to provide end-to-end solutions from the space segment to the ground segment to the delivery of decision-driving analytics,” said Richard White, president of SSL Government Systems. “We have worked closely with the DigitalGlobe team over the past several years to develop a solution that provides both the exceptional agility and persistence they require. We are very pleased to be selected.”

SSL has experience in building and integrating some of the world’s most powerful and comprehensive solutions for services such as communications, Earth observation, in-orbit servicing, space robotics, and exploration and this order further diversifies SSL’s business. WorldView Legion will be built in SSL’s manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, California, where the company takes an innovative approach to satellite design, assembly and test.

“SSL recognized the need to meet the evolving requirements of our customers,” said Dr. Walter Scott, DigitalGlobe Founder, EVP, and CTO. “The team at SSL worked closely with us to provide an innovative and flexible design that will yield exceptional performance, value, and reliability. WorldView Legion will provide our customers with even greater insights into global events of significance, allowing them to make critical decisions with confidence when time is of the essence.

As an innovator in global Earth imaging and data-product generation, DigitalGlobe conceived of WorldView Legion in order to transcend previous limitations and meet the evolving needs of tomorrow’s users of Earth imaging data and geospatial intelligence. The WorldView Legion constellation is designed to deliver a combination of high-resolution, sub-meter accuracy, and fast revisit rates. Combined with DigitalGlobe’s existing WorldView satellites and forthcoming Scout small-satellite constellation, DigitalGlobe will be able to image the most rapidly changing areas on Earth as frequently as every 20 to 30 minutes, from sunrise to sundown. SSL has entered into a firm-fixed price contract with DigitalGlobe to build the WorldView Legion satellites—the first of which is planned to launch in 2020—to replace the WorldView-1, WorldView-2, and GeoEye-1 satellites.

Earlier this year, DigitalGlobe and MDA announced a merger between the two companies. The transaction for MDA to acquire DigitalGlobe has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and is expected to close in the second half of 2017.

Prior to the merger, DigitalGlobe satellites were built by Colorado companies. Ball Aerospace built the first four satellites: WorldView-3 launched in 2014, WorldView-2 launched in 2009, WorldView-1 launched in 2007, and QuickBird launched in 2001. Lockheed Martin built WorldView-4, which launched in 2016.