Tag Archive for: MAXAR

The Maxar Geospatial Platform (MGP) represents a significant step forward in simplifying and expediting the process of accessing high-resolution Earth imagery. Maxar Technologies showcased this platform at the Esri User Conference in San Diego, aiming to offer users convenient access to both archival and current imagery through an online interface and an application programming interface (API).

MGP introduces a more streamlined purchasing process for imagery. For instance, with the MGP Express feature, customers can make purchases directly using their credit card without the need to contact Maxar via phone or email. The imagery is then promptly delivered to the customer.

Looking ahead, Maxar plans to enhance Maxar Geospatial Platform to enable users to task satellites and access advanced analytics tools. This platform is designed to cater to a wide range of users, from individuals seeking specific imagery to enterprises and organizations with more complex geospatial requirements.

Maxar’s announcement of three distinct MGP products on July 10 marks a significant advancement in the accessibility of high-resolution Earth imagery:

  1. MGP Xpress: Designed for the general public, this product allows customers to navigate Maxar’s vast 125-petabyte image archive, make purchases, and subsequently download the chosen images.
  2. MGP Pro: This subscription-based offering provides users with access to a daily collection of imagery, Maxar’s base map, the image archive, and other geospatial data products.
  3. MGP API: Aimed at developers, this product provides them with software development kits and tools to incorporate the MGP API directly into their own applications.

As of now, a select group of Maxar customers can access Maxar Geospatial Platform. However, the company has plans to make it available for broader use later this year. This suite of MGP products is set to significantly simplify and expedite the process of accessing high-quality Earth imagery for a wide range of users.

The introduction of tasking capabilities in the future will further enhance the utility of the Maxar Geospatial Platform (MGP):

  1. Disaster Relief: MGP users focused on disaster relief efforts will have the ability to task Maxar’s constellation of satellites to capture up-to-date imagery in the aftermath of events like hurricanes. This seamless integration of tasking and image acquisition allows customers to directly incorporate imagery into their workflows and applications to aid disaster response.
  2. Defense and Intelligence: International defense or intelligence agencies can leverage MGP’s analytics capabilities to perform various tasks, such as counting military objects or monitoring specific activities of interest.

Initially, MGP will offer access to the Maxar Worldview satellites. However, once the Maxar Legion satellites become operational, imagery from this new constellation will also be accessible through MGP.

In essence, Maxar Geospatial Platform aims to democratize access to Maxar’s geospatial data and imagery, empowering not only experienced analysts but also technical developers and occasional users to seamlessly integrate this data into their mapping, monitoring, and analysis workflows.

Maxar Technologies is finally preparing to launch its next-generation imaging satellites, WorldView Legion, this summer after experiencing years of delays. The first two high-resolution imaging satellites are ready to be launched into orbit using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Maxar plans to launch six WorldView Legions on three separate Falcon 9 rockets into sun-synchronous and mid-inclination orbits. The delays were caused by various setbacks, including hardware supplier issues, production shutdowns during the pandemic, a shortage of cargo aircraft, and the new technology within the Legion satellites. The company’s president and CEO, Daniel Jablonsky, stated that they have completed all the necessary preflight checks, finalized the flight software, and completed last-minute testing before the satellites are launched.

In the meantime, Maxar is in the process of finalizing a deal to be acquired by Advent International, a private equity firm. The acquisition was approved by Maxar’s shareholders on April 19 for $6.4 billion. The success of the Earth intelligence division of Maxar relies on the six-satellite Legion constellation, as it currently only has three legacy WorldView and one GeoEye optical imaging satellite.

Due to the increase in demand for imagery caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Maxar’s investors have approved the production of two additional WorldView Legion satellites. These satellites will be based on the same technology as the previous six but with some upgrades. Maxar will continue to upgrade the technology during the engineering cycle when opportunities for improvement are identified.

According to Jablonsky, Maxar is already ordering long-lead-time parts, particularly the optics packages, for the future Legion satellites. He also stated that there is a high demand for these satellites, and during the recent Space Symposium, the first question from every customer was about their availability.

Maxar is the primary supplier of commercial electro-optical imagery for the US government. In 2020, the company won a $3.2 billion contract from the National Reconnaissance Office to provide mapping services and imagery for the next ten years.

According to Jablonsky, both governments and commercial customers are increasingly relying on data from space to make decisions. The conflict in Ukraine has created a demand not only for optical imagery but also for other sensing technologies, such as synthetic aperture radar and radio-frequency mapping.

Maxar has been expanding into both the SAR and RF markets in recent months, including through partnerships with Umbra and Aurora Insight. The company’s acquisition strategy has been a key part of its business strategy, and it has added 3D imaging and machine-learning technologies to its portfolio with the acquisitions of Vricon and Wovenware. Jablonsky declined to comment on any upcoming acquisitions but said the company is always looking for opportunities to invest in new technologies and companies.

Maxar Technologies is an operator of high-resolution Earth imaging satellites and lately has received regulatory approval to use its satellites to monitor the space environment and sell that data commercially.

Having a license to offer non-Earth imagery enables commercial remote sensing satellites to observe objects such as other satellites and orbital debris. 

Maxar is looking to use this capability to fill growing commercial and government demand for debris monitoring and space domain awareness data, the company’s CEO Daniel Jablonsky has told SpaceNews.

Jablonsky said the company’s in-space monitoring services could support national security priorities that range from tracking objects, analyzing their characteristics and discriminating benign from aggressive activities in orbit.

Maxar’s four imaging satellites currently in orbit have always had the capability to watch the space environment but the new remote-sensing license modification approved recently by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “allows us to do that commercially,” said Jablonsky.

He said securing this licensing approval has been a long-time goal of Maxar given the congestion in orbit and the hazards posed by debris objects. Jablonsky credited the Biden administration’s National Space Council for “having done a nice job of making sure that commercial capabilities that can be brought to bear can be commercialized. And I think this is a good example of that.”

Vice President Kamala Harris said the council will work to revamp regulations for the entire space industry to boost U.S. competitiveness. 

For Maxar and other industry operators, having accurate data on potential threats in orbit has huge financial implications. Jablonsky noted that the WorldView-2  imaging satellite — then operated by DigitalGlobe — in 2016 was hit by a non-tracked piece of debris.  Since acquiring DigitalGlobe in 2017, Maxar has increased advocacy for better space situational awareness and traffic management.

After the debris incident, the company used one of its other satellites to image WorldView-2 and determine that the damage was minimal. But in order to do that, under the licensing agreement at the time, it had to get permission from NOAA to take an image of its own satellite.

The licensing for non-Earth imagery also applies to Maxar’s six WorldView Legion satellites that the company plans to start launching later this year.

L3Harris has selected Maxar Technologies to supply 14 satellite buses and provide support services as a subcontractor to them.

Maxar Technologies announced earlier this month that it was selected by L3Harris to manufacture 14 missile-detection satellites for the U.S. Space Development Agency.

DoD’s space agency last month announced it awarded L3Harris Technologies and Northrop Grumman contracts to each build 14 missile-tracking satellites for a low Earth orbit constellation known as the Tracking Layer Tranche 1.  L3Harris won a $700 million contract.

The 28 infrared-sensing satellites will be part of a global network of eyes in the sky the Pentagon will use to detect and track the latest generation of ballistic and hypersonic missiles being developed by countries like Russia and China. 

“This is a big win,” Maxar CEO Daniel Jablonsky said during a second-quarter earnings call. He called the agreement with L3Harris a validation of Maxar’s strategy to pursue national security satellite contracts to diversify its mostly commercial-only business.

Maxar will supply satellite buses and provide support services as a subcontractor to L3Harris. The company did not disclose the value of the contract. Jablonsky said it’s a fixed-price deal for Maxar’s new “workhorse PLEO” bus, designed for proliferated low Earth orbit constellations and based on an earlier design the company bid for the Telesat constellation.

The contract with L3Harris also covers the integration of mission payloads, including optical terminals for mesh networking, Ka-band communications and infrared sensors. Maxar will manufacture the buses at its factories in Palo Alto and San Jose, California, for delivery in 2024. Launches are scheduled to begin in April 2025.

“This program demonstrates that Maxar is primed to handle a diverse set of missions,” said Chris Johnson, Maxar senior vice president and general manager of space. 

Rob Mitrevski, vice president and general manager of spectral solutions at L3Harris, said the company considered the Maxar platform a good fit for SDA’s Tracking Layer. “Developing and manufacturing commoditized, commercially available spacecraft for the national defense space architecture is key for the Space Development Agency.”