Our Pasadena company was started in 1997 by three Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers, as Alliance Spacesystems, Inc. (ASI). They grew the business from a start in JPL Mars rover/lander robotics arms to composite structures and ultimately a broad set of electromechanical devices for aerospace applications. The company also secured a number of multi-year supplier contracts with JPL, providing engineering design and analysis services as well as composites fabrication. Our deep relationship with JPL continues to current-day, and is one we proudly maintain.
The customer base grew to include Sierra Nevada Corp. and MIT Lincoln Laboratory; a satellite engineering office was soon stood up in Boulder, CO. In 2006, ASI merged with Vision Composites to become Alliance Spacesystems, LLC. Shortly afterwards in 2007, we were purchased by MDA Corporation, who just 2 years later combined us with an earlier Houston acquisition to become the Space Division of MDA Information Systems. The Houston office provides engineering support to NASA’s Johnson Space Center for the MDA robotics resident on the International Space Station (ISS). In 2012 after MDA’s acquisition of SSL, MDA again reorganized us to our current form, MDA US Systems, by breaking us out of MDA Information Systems while at the same time divesting what used to be Vision Composites.
Our Houston office provides engineering support to NASA-JSC for all MDA robotics resident on the ISS, namely the Mobile Servicing System (MSS). The MSS is comprised of three components: the 58 foot-long 7-DOF Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), a.k.a. Canadarm2, the Mobile Remote Servicer Base System (MBS), and the 15-DOF Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM, a.k.a. “Dextre”). The Houston office maintains a high-fidelity software simulator for the MSS, and performs all MSS operations pre-planning as well as in-mission troubleshooting and support. They also similarly supported the MDA Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) for all of the Space Shuttles until they were retired in 2011.
Back in Pasadena and Boulder, our hundreds of projects have included robotic arms on JPL Mars missions Mars Surveyor 2001, Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), Phoenix, Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), InSight, and Mars 2020; imager mechanisms for MSL Mastcams and MaHLI, and Mars 2020 SHERLOC and WATSON; robotics for an unmanned Hubble Space Telescope rescue mission; robotic arms for on-orbit satellite servicing for both NASA (Restore-L, in LEO) and DARPA/NRL (RSGS, in GEO); mechanisms on the NASA/NOAA Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM); and robotics testing at the NASA Houghton Mars Project research station on Devon Island in the Arctic Circle. For our work on the Instrumentation Deployment Devices (IDDs) for MER, in 2004 we received the George M. Low Award from NASA for quality and performance excellence.
So what’s next? We are currently collaborating with our much-larger corporate affiliates all over North America in the joint pursuit of exciting new major programs.