Business of Space: Sharing satellite imagery or an act of war?
- Canadian firm enjoys revenue jump after snagging NASA contract
- To share or not to share? Ukraine asks Japan for satellite imagery over Russia
- OneWeb’s US proxy lines board with former US national security officials
Space technology firm MDA has swung from its losses in the final three months of 2021, after it snagged a C$269m (£161.7m) contract with the national Canadian Space Agency just weeks ago.
The Ontaria-based satellite company enjoyed a 15 per cent revenue jump in its fourth quarter to C$115.5m (£69.4m), it revealed on Thursday.
MDA pulled in $600,000 (£360,780) in profit in the three-month period, in comparison with a loss of $12.6m (£7.5m) in the last quarter 2020.
As part of the new contract, MDA is set to design the robotics system for Phase B of Canada’s Canadarm 3 program – part of the NASA-led Gateway project to set up a space station in the Moon’s orbit.
The Toronto-listed firm, which employs some 2,000 people, enjoyed a share price jump of 10 per cent to C$11.11 apiece.
“This is another important milestone for MDA that demonstrates our ability to execute in the rapidly accelerating global space economy and further reinforces our role as a worldwide leader in robotics and space operations,” MDA chief executive Mike Greenley said in a statement.
“MDA now intends to leverage its world-class engineering capabilities, mission expertise, and cutting-edge Canadarm3 technology with an eye towards commercializing space robotics products in the years ahead.”
A special request
Ukraine is reportedly asking Japan for high-quality satellite imagery to help it fend off Russian troops – which onlookers fear could be seen as an act of war from a Russian perspective.
Japan’s government and businesses operate satellites that have the ability to capture images through clouds cover and other obstructions in the atmosphere.
The Japanese government will carefully consider whether providing such data to Ukraine is politically acceptable or allowed under the current legal framework, Nikkei reported on Thursday.
It follows a debacle between Russia’s space agency Roscosmos and UK government-backed OneWeb for the launch of several communications satellites earlier this month.
Roscosmos had a number of demands for OneWeb, including the assurance that its satellites were not going to be used against Russia.
Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin also warned at the beginning of the month that it will treat any hacking of its satellites as justification for war, according to Russia’s Interfax Agency. “Off-lining the satellites of any country is actually a casus belli, a cause for war,” Interfax quoted him as saying.
No official statement has yet been made, so onlookers will have to await a result.
OneWeb‘s US proxy
And when it is not at the centre of a Russian boycott debacle, OneWeb is lining its proxy board with former senior US national security officials.
The three officials are set to serve as members of a board for OneWeb Technologies, the low-earth orbit satellite firm’s US proxy.
Focused on solving secure, mission-critical real-time connectivity challenges for customers in the US, the company has sought a board to help protect US classified information.
The OneWeb Technologies board will be led by chairman Susan M. Gordon, former US principal deputy director of national intelligence, the 76th US secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer and the 24th US secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy.
“We welcome this distinguished group of advisors to help guide OneWeb Technologies,” OneWeb Technologies CEO Bob Roe said in a statement on Thursday.
“OneWeb Technologies has always had deep industry relationships, broad market experience and an agile approach to business, and we now have an impressive board with extensive experience in national security.”