Anyone reading the widely circulated Canadian Press (CP) story last week titled “Canadian Space Agency becomes third customer of commercial U.S. rocket firm” can be forgiven if thinking this was new news. In fact it wasn’t. The Canadian Space Agency through it’s contractor MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) had secured a launch for the CASSIOPE satellite almost 5 years ago.
The Canadian Space Agency CASSIOPE satellite is a small hybrid satellite which was originally scheduled to launch Q3 of 2008 on SpaceX Falcon 1 launch rocket. Subsequent delays have resulted in projected launch date sometime in 2011. As well CASSIOPE will be launched on a Falcon 9 with other yet to be announced payloads.
The contract to launch CASSIOPE was secured through MDA who is the prime contractor for the mission including launch and operation of the spacecraft. The relatively low cost of the launch is due in part to a contract whose price was negotiated almost 5 years ago and originally for the lower cost small launcher Falcon 1.
The article also states that the Canadian Space Agency was SpaceX’s third customer. In fact, MDA was announced in May of 2006 as being the ninth launch and fourth customer behind US Department of Defense, the Malaysian government and SpaceDev.