About Maxar Technologies
Maxar Technologies Inc. engages in designing, developing, and manufacturing advanced space technology products and systems.
The company delivers value to government and commercial customers to help them monitor, understand and navigate its changing planet; deliver global broadband communications; and explores and advances the use of space.
The company operates through two segments, Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure.
This segment provides high-resolution Earth imagery and other geospatial data sourced from its own advanced satellite constellation and third-party providers to its government and commercial customers, as well as a provider of advanced geospatial information, applications and analytic services to national security and commercial customers.
In the Earth Intelligence segment, the company provides high resolution space-based Earth observation imagery products and analytics. The company launched the high resolution commercial imaging satellite and operates a four-satellite imaging constellation, providing it with 20 years and 125 petabytes of imagery over its history (referred to as its ImageLibrary) of the highest-resolution, commercially available imagery. Its imagery solutions provide customers with mission-critical information about its changing planet and support a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including mission planning, mapping and analysis, environmental monitoring, disaster management, crop management, oil and gas exploration and infrastructure management. Its principal customers in the Earth Intelligence segment are U.S. and international government agencies (primarily defense and intelligence agencies), as well as a wide variety of commercial customers in multiple markets.
The company also provides geospatial services that combine imagery, analytic expertise and innovative technology to deliver intelligence solutions to customers. Its developers, analysts and data scientists provide analytic solutions that document change and enable geospatial modeling and analysis. Its primary customer of geospatial services is the U.S. government, but it also supports intelligence requirements for other U.S. allied governments, global development organizations and commercial customers.
In 2020, the company closed the acquisition of Vricon, Inc. (Vricon) by purchasing the remaining 50% ownership interest in Vricon (Vricon Acquisition). Vricon provides satellite-derived 3D data for defense and intelligence markets, with software and products that enhance 3D mapping, Earth intelligence data, military simulation and training and precision-guided munitions. Vricon was formed as a joint venture between the company and Saab AB in 2015 to combine patented Saab AB Intellectual Property with its commercial satellite imagery to build 3D products at scale.
The company processes its imagery to varying levels according to its customers’ specifications and delivers its products using the distribution methods and subscription services that best suits its customers’ needs. The company offers a number of imagery products, including:
Orthorectified Imagery: Includes radiometric, geometric and topographic correction. Topographic correction accounts for terrain and projects images onto the Earth as they would be seen by the human eye.
Imagery Basemaps: Powered by the company’s proprietary image processing techniques, its imagery basemaps deliver imagery through thousands of combined images that maximizes contrast, sharpness and clarity. The company also sells products that deliver regular updates of images of 6,000 major metropolitan areas.
3D and Elevation Products: Elevation and terrain information is foundational to mapping and understanding the surface of the company’s planet. It offers various models of the Earth’s surface (e.g., digital surface models, digital terrain models, 3D point clouds, etc.) derived from its 3D representation of the Earth.
Information Products: New map features and information products are derived from the company’s imagery archive using machine learning, often without additional manual processing.
SecureWatch: A subscription offering that provides customers online access to an extensive imagery and geospatial intelligence platform and addresses a broad spectrum of uses. This includes supporting the U.S Government with Global Enhanced GEONIT Delivery (G-EGD).
The company also provides certain customers the ability to directly task and receive imagery from its satellites within local and regional geographic boundaries of interest through its Direct Access Program (DAP). It sells these customers ground system infrastructure, enabling them to download and process imagery directly from its satellites and access to its satellite and maintenance services. The DAP is designed to meet the enhanced information and operational security needs of a select number of international defense and intelligence customers and certain commercial customers. The company’s Rapid Access Program offers customers access to its satellite constellation, while it owns and manages the ground infrastructure.
The company provides advanced geospatial information, applications and analytic services to national security and commercial customers through its imagery and other sources of geospatial data, such as low-resolution satellite imagery, radar, weather and oceanographic data, elevation and social media. It deploys these services through various platforms, including Amazon Web Services. Its intellectual property portfolio, including U.S. and foreign patents, and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase III data rights supports the technology it provides to its customers.
As of December 31, 2020, the company operated a constellation of four in orbit and fully commissioned satellites: GeoEye-1, WorldView-1, WorldView-2 and WorldView-3. Its annual collection capacity is approximately 1.4 billion square kilometers. The company has collected, and has available for use, approximately 125 petabytes in its ImageLibrary.
The company procures insurance to protect it from the risks associated with its satellite operations, including the partial or total impairment of the functional capacity of the satellite. It insures satellites in its constellation to the extent that insurance is available at acceptable premiums.
During 2020, the company announced the signing of multiple contracts with the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to deliver land cover classification and change detection services through a combination of the Janus Geography program and the General Services Administration’s IT Schedule 70. In 2020, the company announced that it was selected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop an analytics system for characterizing and tracking the behavior of vehicles in multiple domains at scale and in near-real-time. It also announced the renewal of four contracts and expansion of a fifth contract in the second quarter of 2020—together valued at more than $120 million—with international defense and intelligence customers for uninterrupted access to its satellite constellation. During the third quarter of 2020, the company also received the annual exercise of the $300 million EnhancedView Contract option. Additionally, announced that the company have been selected by the U.S. Army Geospatial Center to deliver multiple highly portable, direct-downlink tactical ground systems, called the U.S. Army Remote Ground Terminal that provide critical geospatial intelligence to users in remote locations. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the company announced that it were selected by the U.S. Space Force to develop prototype mission data processing applications for the Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution Mission Data Processing (FORGE MDP) program located within the Cross-Mission Ground & Communications Enterprise at the Space & Missile Systems Center.
This segment is a supplier of space-based infrastructure, robotics, subsystems and information solutions to government agencies and satellite operators.
In the Space Infrastructure segment, the company designs, builds, integrates and tests solutions for space-based communications satellites, Earth observation, on-orbit servicing, robotic assembly and space exploration. It addresses a broad spectrum of needs for its customers, including mission systems engineering, product design, spacecraft manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing. The company provides spacecraft that enable its commercial customers to deliver valuable global services. The company is partnering with the U.S. government in new space opportunities leveraging its high-performance spacecraft subsystems. Its principal customers in the Space Infrastructure segment are commercial satellite operators and government agencies worldwide. The company has built and launched more than 285 spacecrafts with a combined approximate 2,750 years of on-orbit service.
The company’s products include communications and imaging satellites and payloads; platforms for space exploration and hosting instruments for Earth science; space subsystems for power, propulsion and communication; satellite ground systems and support services; space-based remote sensing-solutions; space robotics; and defense systems. The company has 90 Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) satellites in service with 99.9971% availability.
The company’s 1300 bus is in use for a broad range of television distribution services from smaller regional television satellites to the high-capacity, high-power satellites used by direct-to-home television distributors.
The company’s robotics technologies have been used on the Mars landers and rovers. It works with NASA on projects, such as OSAM-1, which will demonstrate on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing. This technology promises to enable spacecraft that can build and reconfigure themselves on-orbit, advanced space telescopes and other infrastructure that never could have been launched within the confines of existing rocket fairings.
During 2020, the company announced six geostationary communications satellites awarded by Intelsat. Five of these satellites will help Intelsat transition its existing media distribution and contribution services–uninterrupted–from the 3.7 to 4.0 gigahertz portion of the C-band, to the 4.0 to 4.2 gigahertz portion of the band, freeing up spectrum for 5G terrestrial wireless services. In addition to the five C-band satellites Intelsat has ordered from Maxar in 2020 to support their C-band spectrum transition, the company also contracted Maxar to manufacture its next-generation Intelsat 40e geostationary communications satellite. The company will integrate NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) payload with the Intelsat 40e satellite. Expanding its civil space portfolio, the company announced in the second quarter of 2020 that it were selected to support Dynetics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leidos, in designing and building a Human Landing System for NASA’s Artemis program, for which it is developing the Power and Propulsion Element for the lunar Gateway.
The company’s principal customers in the Space Infrastructure segment are commercial satellite operators and government agencies worldwide.
The company’s primary competitors for satellite manufacturing contracts are The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Northrop Grumman Corporation in the United States; Thales S.A. and Airbus Defence and Space, a subsidiary of the Airbus Group, in Europe; and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in Japan.
In 2020, the company completed the sale of the MDA Business to Neptune Acquisition Inc.
Earth Intelligence: The key elements of the company’s strategy are to improve its Earth intelligence products with WorldView Legion by productizing technologies and derivative content developed in support of individual customer contracts, such as using more artificial intelligence and machine learning to extract features, detect objects and detect change in its satellite imagery and complementary content; expand its relationship with the U.S. government; grow its installed base and penetration of international defense and intelligence customers; grow with and expanding its installed base among commercial customers; provide products based on machine learning and artificial intelligence; and deliver 3D products to global defense, intelligence and commercial customers.
Space Infrastructure: The key elements of the company’s strategy include developing differentiated capabilities that are designed for future space exploration, including propulsion, power and robotics; growing its U.S. and international civil exposure; deepening its penetration of U.S. national programs; and providing flexible platforms to its commercial customers.
Government Contracts and Regulations
The company contracts with numerous U.S. government agencies and entities, including branches of the U.S. military and NASA.
Research and Development
The company’s annual research and development expenses from continuing operations were $15 million in 2020.
The company was founded in 1969. It was formerly known as MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. and changed its name to Maxar Technologies Ltd. in 2017 and then to Maxar Technologies Inc. in 2019.