MDA (company)

MDA Ltd. is a Canadian space technology company headquartered in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, that provides geointelligence, robotics & space operations, and satellite systems.[1]

MDA Ltd.
PredecessorMaxar Technologies; MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates; Spar Aerospace
Founded1969; 53 years ago (1969) in Vancouver, Canada
Key people
Mike Greenley, CEO
ProductsGeointelligence, robotics, space operations, and satellite systems
Number of employees
2000 Edit this at Wikidata


MDA (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates) was founded in 1969 by John S. MacDonald and Vern Dettwiler in the basement of MacDonald's Vancouver home.[2] The company became a subsidiary of Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) from the United States on 17 November 1995.[3]

MDA was primary contractor for, and took ownership of, the RADARSAT-2 Earth observation satellite.[4]

MDA bought the space robotics division of Spar Aerospace—manufacturer of the Canadarm—in March 1999, renaming it MD Robotics. The company completed the Mobile Servicing System (including the Canadarm2) for the International Space Station.[5] OSC sold its entire stake in 2001.[6] Nearly 70% was sold to a group of Canadian investors; the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP)[7] became the largest shareholder with a 29% stake.[8]

In the 2000s, MDA experienced difficulties winning contracts in the United States.[why?] In 2008, an attempt to sell the space division to Alliant Techsystems was blocked by the Canadian government on national security grounds. The subsequent lack of Canadian business led to layoffs. The real estate information business was sold in early 2011.[8] MDA bought Space Systems/Loral from Loral Space & Communications in 2012.,[9] leading to OTPP reducing its stake to less than 10%.[8]

MDA bought DigitalGlobe in 2017, and rebranded as Maxar Technologies.;[10] the company moved its headquarters to Colorado, United States.[11]

On 8 April 2020, Toronto-based investment firm Northern Private Capital bought the MDA assets from Maxar[12] for Can$1 billion (US$765 million).[13][14][15] and named the new company MDA; the company is headquartered in Canada.[12]

On 9 December 2020, The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) awarded MDA a contract to develop and construct the Canadarm3 as part of Canada's contribution to the NASA-led Lunar Gateway Program. The contract is for the first phase of the program and is worth C$22.8 million, with options for follow-on phases.[16] The contract was further confirmed on December 16, 2020, when NASA and the CSA announced the finalised agreement to collaborate on the Gateway, which included the Canadarm3, the installation of two scientific instruments and commitment to provide two crew positions for Canadian astronauts.[17]

On 7 April 2021, MDA became a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange trading under the symbol MDA.[18]



International officesEdit


  1. ^ "Space-tech firm MDA back in Canadian hands with $1B sale to investors including Balsillie". Financial Post. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  2. ^ Dotto, Lydia, 1949- (1992). A heritage of excellence : 25 years at Spar Aerospace Limited. Steel, David (David A. B.), Spar Aerospace Ltd. Mississauga, Ont.: Spar Aerospace Ltd. ISBN 0-9696618-0-0. OCLC 26931360.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Orbital Sciences Corporation (27 June 2000). "Form 10-K/A Orbital Sciences Corp /de/ Annual report [Section 13 and 15(d), not S-K Item 405]". Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  4. ^ Public Works and Government Services Canada (September 2009). Evaluation of the RADARSAT-2 Major Crown Project (PDF) (Report). Canadian Space Agency. p. 1. 570-2782-3. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  5. ^ Bingham, Richard (25 January 2002). "To Infinity and Beyond". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  6. ^ Orbital Sciences Corporation (18 June 2001). "Orbital Completes Initial Phase of MDA Divestiture With Sale of 12.35 Million Shares for $112 Million". Northrop Grumman. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  7. ^ Orbital Sciences Corporation (31 May 2001). "Orbital Completes Initial Phase of MDA Divestiture With Sale of 12.35 Million Shares for $112 Million". Northrop Grumman. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "Ontario Teachers cash in 1.35 million MDA shares". The Globe and Mail. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  9. ^ Loral Space & Communications (2 November 2012). "Loral Closes Sale of Space Systems/Loral to MDA" (Press release). Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  10. ^ Maxar Technologies (5 October 2017). "MDA Completes Acquisition of DigitalGlobe, Creates Industry Leader in Satellite Systems, Earth Imagery, Geospatial Solutions and Analytics" (Press release). Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Maxar Technologies, parent of DigitalGlobe, moves HQ to Colorado". Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  12. ^ a b Leslie, Swartman (8 April 2020). "Iconic Space Technology Firm Returns to Canadian Control". MDA. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Group led by John Risley to buy Canadarm maker MDA in $1-billion deal". Retrieved 2020-10-26.
  14. ^ "Canadarm maker to be acquired by Canadian investors in $1B deal". CBC News.
  15. ^ "Canadarm owner to be bought by Canadian group". CTVNews. 2019-12-30. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  16. ^ "Canadian Space Agency awards Canadarm3 contract worth $22.8M to MDA". CTVNews. 2020-12-08. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  17. ^ Potter, Sean (2020-12-16). "NASA, Canadian Space Agency Formalize Gateway Partnership for Artemis". NASA. Retrieved 2020-12-17.