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Space Systems/Loral logo

Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), of Palo Alto, California, is the wholly owned manufacturing subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications. It was acquired in 1990 for $715 million by Loral Corp. from Ford Motor Company as the Space Systems Division of Ford Aerospace. The company was founded as the Western Development Laboratories (WDL) of Philco (Philco-Ford since 1966).

SS/L designs and builds satellites and space systems for a wide variety of government and commercial customers. Its products include high-powered direct-to-home broadcast satellites, commercial weather satellites, digital audio radio satellites and spot-beam satellites for data networking applications.

SS/L's customers include AsiaSat, DirecTV, EchoStar, Globalstar, Hispasat, Hughes Network Systems, ICO Global Communications, Intelsat, Japan MTSAT, JSC Gascom, Loral Skynet, NASA/NOAA (GOES), Optus, PanAmSat, SES S.A., SES New Skies, Shin Satellite, Sirius Satellite Radio, Viasat, WildBlue, and XM Satellite Radio.

SS/L has a history of technical innovation. In 1960 the Courier 1B, built by SS/L (then Philco), became the world's first active repeater satellite.

SS/L has recently pioneered research in electric propulsion systems, lithium-ion power systems and the use of advanced composites on commercial satellites, which permit significant increases in the size and power of a satellite’s payload and extends the satellite’s on-orbit lifetime. SS/L also has developed new service-enhancing technologies such as super power systems for direct-to-user applications and ground-based beam forming, a technology that uses both satellite and terrestrial assets to provide mobile users with increased coverage and capacity capabilities.

Space Systems/Loral’s major competitors are Boeing Satellite Systems, Lockheed Martin, Thales Alenia Space, and EADS Astrium.

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1300 series platform

SS/L manufactures satellites based on its 1300 series platform in Palo Alto, California. Satellites in the series include ProtoStar I, ICO G1, SIRIUS FM-6 and SES NEW SKIES NSS-12. As of January 2008 there were 48 satellites based on the 1300 series platform in service, with 4 more ready for launch and 14 others under construction.[1]

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COTS proposal

SS/L and Constellation Services International have proposed a reusable space tug based on the 1300 platform. The tug would be used to bring supplies to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.[1]

NASA eventually decided to pursue another proposal for this project. SS/L, however, continues to provide Battery Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs), Battery Charge Discharge Units (BCDUs), and Sequential Shunt Units (SSUs) for the ISS.[2]

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