SSL grows federal exec team, proceeds on DARPA robotics program

Space Systems Loral makes a promotion and expands its U.S. government leadership team as the company also proceeds on a program key to its federal market growth efforts.

Space Systems Loral has made a promotion and added two members to its executive team as the satellite and space technology maker continues on its U.S. government market strategy and proceeds on a program key to that initiative.

Richard White, who joined SSL in October 2016 as senior vice president of government systems, was promoted to the role of president for the SSL Government Systems organization. He has been joined by new hires Robert Zitz as senior vice president and chief strategy officer, and Tim Gillespie as VP of business development for national systems.

Zitz joins SSL from Leidos, where he held the role of chief systems architect and corporate strategic account executive role since his original 2011 appointment after a three-decade government career. Gillespie previously was a vice president at Engility and oversaw business development efforts in defense and intelligence markets.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based SSL separately announced the completion of its agreement to work on a robotic satellite servicing program with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that is the subject of a lawsuit from rival Orbital ATK.

SSL will build a spacecraft to carry a robotic servicing payload into space for repair work on satellites in-orbit under the DARPA Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites program first awarded to the company in February.

“We are pleased and proud to begin work on this critical program to ensure that the U.S. becomes a global leader in satellite servicing, bolstering American innovation, job creation, and the resilience of vital public and private sector orbital assets,” SSL’s Washington operations vice president Mike Gold told Washington Technology in an emailed statement.

Subsequent to the February award, Orbital ATK sued DARPA to halt the contract and claims in that lawsuit the agency is subsidizing the RSGS product development for SSL, which would eventually own the technology and rights to it.

As first reported by Space News Wednesday, DARPA filed a motion April 11 with the U.S. District Court for Virginia’s Eastern District to dismiss the case. The Alexandria-based federal court will hold a hearing on the motion May 5, according to that report.

SSL says the RSGS work will take place at the company’s facilities in California. SSL is a subsidiary of San Francisco-based SSL MDA Holdings, the operating company for all U.S. government business of Canada-headquartered parent MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates.

MDA formed SSL MDA Holdings in late 2016 to execute classified U.S. government contract work. SSL MDA Holdings signed a security control agreement with the Defense Department in January covering programs that require security clearances.