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SMi MilSatCom USA 2020  Satellite Communications Technology

MDA-developed Columbus Ka-Band Terminal (COLKa) starts journey to the International Space Station

(15 February 2020 - MDA) MDA today announced that technology developed by its UK division in partnership with the UK Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency has begun its journey to the International Space Station (ISS).

The European Space Agency (ESA)’s Columbus Ka-Band Terminal (COLKa) was launched today aboard the NG-13 Commercial Resupply Mission to the ISS.

The MDA-built terminal will complement existing communication systems on board the ISS and utilise the European Data Relay Satellite (EDRS). Operating in the Ka-band, COLKa will enable dramatically higher communications bandwidth between ESA’s Columbus laboratory module on the ISS and ground stations and will provide ESA with an independent connection for faster delivery of scientific data and high-definition video. As a result, UK and European scientists and researchers will be able to see results of their ISS science experiments almost instantaneously.

COLKa was designed, developed and integrated by MDA Space and Robotics Limited in the UK, using funding provided by the UK Space Agency through the ESA Human Spaceflight program, the Canadian Space Agency through its cooperation agreement with the ESA, through the ESA ARTES program as well as through internal investment. MDA was supported on the project by Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace and Antwerp Space, both of which made significant contributions to the development of key subsystems.

“This is the first major industrial contribution from the UK to the ISS, and it will revolutionise the ability of scientists in the UK and Europe to access the results of their experiments,” said Dr Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency. “This is yet another example of the UK economy benefiting, through investment, jobs and new skills, from our continued collaboration with the European Space Agency.”

“The COLKa program has firmly established MDA in the UK as a leading provider of high-quality space equipment, positioning us for continued business growth and new jobs in both communications and space sensor markets,” said David Kenyon, Managing Director of MDA Space and Robotics Limited in the UK.

Two astronauts will carry out a spacewalk later this year to mount COLKa to the outside of the Columbus module on the ISS.

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About MDA

MDA is an internationally recognized leader in space robotics, space sensors, satellite payloads, antennas and subsystems, surveillance and intelligence systems, defense and maritime systems, and geospatial radar imagery. MDA's extensive space expertise and heritage translates into mission-critical defence and commercial applications that include multi-platform command, control and surveillance systems, aeronautical information systems, land administration systems and terrestrial robotics. MDA is also a leading supplier of actionable mission-critical information and insights derived from multiple data sources. Founded in 1969, MDA is recognized as one of Canada's most successful technology ventures with locations in Richmond, Ottawa, Brampton, Montreal, Halifax and the United Kingdom.