MDA buys Space Systems/Loral but will commercial market still be there?

by | Jun 28, 2012 | Seradata News | 0 comments

The purchase of US spacecraft manufacturer Space Systems/Loral from Loral by the Canadian space firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) for $875 million has given MDA a major foothold in commercial spacecraft manufacturing.  For while MDA was only a little smaller than Space Systems/Loral in overall revenues ($761 million (US) compared to $1.1 milllion), it remains a relative minnow compared to Space Systems/Loral in terms of commercial satellite manufacturing.  MDA is stronger in space robotics, making the robot arm and Dextre repair robot for the International Space Station, and Radarsat satellites for the Canadian Space Agency.  

Space Systems/Loral is one of the “big five” in commercial satellite construction and is often rated as one of the top two of the major players.   Originating as part of Ford Aerospace, the spacecraft manufacturer was bought from Ford Motor Company by Loral in 1990. As Loral fell into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, mainly as a result of its involvement with the original failed Globalstar business plan, Space Systems/Loral also thus fell into Chapter 11.  However during this time Space Systems/Loral had been extraordinarily effective at winning orders and it emerged from Chapter 11 in 2005 with much fuller order book.  This caused some industry observers to wonder if going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy could be the answer for a company wishing to become competitive!

Whether the operation can maintain its success remains to be seen.  Increasingly countries have their own indigenous satellite manufacturing capabilities.  Meanwhile some launch providers are now offering “all in” turnkey manufacturing and launch contracts which reduces the need to buy commercial spacecraft on the open market.  As it is other space firms are moving into this commercial spacecraft manufacturing field.  All this is making the commercial spacecraft market increasingly competitive and this could limit both revenues and profitability for participants in this market.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles

Orbital ATK’s legal action against DARPA over servicing help to competitors fails in court (Peter de Selding) reports that the Orbital ATK legal attempt to force the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Read more

SSL to build WorldView Legion imaging satellite constellation

In a not unexpected move, given that both firms concerned will share a common owner (Canada's MacDonald Detwiller and Associates Ltd Read more

MDA Corp needs and gets a yankee at the top

After 20 years service and having greatly improved and expanded it, Daniel Friedmann is stepping down as CEO of MDA Read more

Skybox Imaging orders six satellites from SSL (Space Systems/Loral) and then rebrands as Terra Bella

Having ordered six spacecraft from SSL (Space Systems/Loral) in January, the Google owned satellite imaging firm, Skybox Imaging, has rebranded itself as Read more

Satellite 2016: Space Systems/Loral will offer a solar array providing up to 300kW of power

Speaking towards the end of the satellite manufacturers’ forum at Satellite 2016 in Washington D.C. in March, Paul Estey, VP Read more

TELKOM-4 is ordered from Space Systems/Loral

PT Telkom Indonesia, the largest telecommunication firm in Indonesia, has ordered a new communications satellite from the Canadian-owned, US-based manufacturer, Space Read more

Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38 construction order goes to Space Systems/Loral…as Ariane 5 gets launch (Updated)

During October 2015, Azercosmos, the state-owned satellite operator of Azerbaijan, ordered the construction of its new communications satellite, Azerspace-2, from the Read more

BSAT-4a construction order goes to Space Systems/Loral

The US-based spacecraft manufacturer Space Systems/Loral has been awarded a construction order to build the direct broadcasting communications satellite BSAT-4a Read more