Canada's next-generation RADARSAT satellite constellation successfully launches to space
The trio of satellites will provide critical data on Canada from space for Canadian researchers and government
June 12, 2019 – Longueuil, Quebec
Canada's RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) was launched successfully into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 10:17 a.m. Eastern time from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The constellation of three satellites will provide daily images of Canada's vast territory and maritime approaches, as well as images of the Arctic, up to four times a day. It will have daily access to 90 per cent of the world's surface. The RCM is also equipped with an Automatic Identification System (AIS), allowing improved detection and tracking of ships, including those conducting illegal fishing.
For more than two decades, Canada's world-leading RADARSAT satellites have been providing scientists, government and industry with crucial and continuous data for a wide variety of uses. The RCM will provide a transformational new capability that will be used by researchers to develop solutions to help better understand our planet and by governments to deliver enhanced and reliable services to Canadians.
RCM data will be used in innovative applications that benefit Canadians, including:
- Monitoring climate change, land use evolution and even human impacts on the environment by highlighting changes over time through composite images.
- Detecting and tracking ships, including those conducting illegal fishing, and helping emergency teams save lives during natural disasters.
- Creating ice maps for safer ship navigation and commercial maritime transportation.
- Monitoring the integrity of infrastructure like highways, bridges and railway corridors.
- Measuring changes in permafrost and ground movement to support northern communities, build houses and infrastructure safely, and plan airport runways and their operation and maintenance.
- Maximizing crop yields for farmers while reducing energy consumption and the use of potential pollutants.
- Supporting the operations of the Canadian Armed Forces to further global peace and security.
"We need high-quality data to make evidence-based decisions. The RADARSAT Constellation Mission will provide improved data for the critical services our government provides to Canadians, including monitoring climate change, protecting the health of our oceans, forests and crops; and supporting our first responders' disaster relief efforts."
- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Businesses, researchers and the public will have access to data and imagery from the RCM, subject to security requirements, to produce value-added products and services. For example, the imagery can be used to monitor changes to Earth's surface and their impacts on economic activity such as agriculture and infrastructure development.
More than twelve federal government departments use RADARSAT data. The RCM required the direct collaboration, among others, of Natural Resources Canada, the Department of National Defence, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Public Safety Canada.
Over 125 Canadian suppliers in 7 provinces helped build the RCM. The three spacecraft were assembled in the Montreal area by the prime contractor MDA, a Maxar company.
The RCM will orbit Earth at an altitude of 600 km. Each of the satellites has a life expectancy of 7 years.
The Government of Canada owns and will operate the RCM. At its peak, the construction of the satellites employed approximately 300 people in some 50 companies across the country.
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