Dan Jablonsky, the former DigitalGlobe president, took the helm at Maxar Technologies on Jan. 13, six days after the company announced the loss of its Worldview-4 satellite. Immediately, Jablonsky set to work evaluating the corporation’s structure and its components, including satellite manufacturer Space Systems Loral.
Speaking at the 35th Space Symposium here April 8, John Lymer, Maxar’s chief roboticist, said the company is committed to finishing Dragonfly, a NASA program to assemble spacecraft parts in orbit, enabling antennas and other systems to launch more compactly inside a rocket’s payload fairing.
Maxar Technologies, which will lay off more than 200 people as it seeks to return to profitability following a $1.26 billion loss, says the struggling satellite division it decided to keep will need to bring in roughly $500 million annually to break even.
Maxar Technologies has decided not to sell or shut down its commercial geostationary orbit satellite business, but will restructure it with a greater emphasis on smaller satellites and government customers.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying an Indonesian communications satellite, an Israeli lunar lander and a U.S. Air Force smallsat launched Feb. 21 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Indonesian communications satellite that is SpaceX’s primary payload for its second Falcon 9 launch this year overcame a change of manufacturers and the loss of a U.S. Ex-Im Bank loan to reach the launch pad.
James Vedda, analyst at Aerospace Corp., said the RSGS setback should not be read “as an indictment of satellite servicing.”
Swedish startup Ovzon, which in October bought a Falcon Heavy launch from SpaceX, has now purchased a satellite for that mission from Maxar Technologies’ Space Systems Loral division.
Maxar Technologies plans to significantly reduce its capital expenditures after completing construction of its next-generation WorldView Legion constellation so that the company can focus on curbing its $3 billion debt load.
With four more of its satellites launched between July 22 and Sept. 25, Space Systems Loral now has more than 1,000 additively manufactured parts in orbit on 15 spacecraft.
Maxar Technologies executives said selling the company’s struggling geostationary satellite manufacturing business is now the most likely path it will take to break free from a business that is operating at a loss.
Israeli satellite operator Spacecom said Sept. 25 that it has terminated contracts awarded earlier this spring to manufacturer Space Systems Loral and launch provider SpaceX for Amos-8, a telecommunications satellite the Israeli government said Sept. 3 would be built in Israel instead.
One of the two commercial GEO satellite contracts Space Systems Loral announced this year now appears in doubt following Israel's announcement that Amos-8 will be built domestically.