Federal Government Funds RADARSAT Constellation Mission to Completion

The Federal Government announced today that it will provide funding for the completion of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM). MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) has signed a $706 million contract with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to build, launch and provide initial operations for the mission.

The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) made the announcement at the MDA installation in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Qubec. In attendance were Steve MacLean, President of the CSA and Mag Iskander, President, Information Systems, MDA.
“Our Government is ensuring we have the tools to assert our sovereignty, monitor and manage our resources, and keep watch over our vast territory and coastal areas,” said Minister Paradis. “The world-class RADARSAT Constellation Mission keeps Canada at the forefront of the design and operation of radar satellites.”
“Canada has a hard-won reputation for expertise in a highly competitive global environment. Through strategic investments in R&D and space, our Government is fostering industrial innovation, promoting commercialization, creating high-quality jobs, and positioning our industry for continued growth in the global economy,” added Minister Paradis.
The RADARSAT Constellation Mission is a follow on to the successful RADARSAT I and RADARSAT II missions. Launched, in 1995 and 2007, these two spacecraft are still both in operation. They use synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology to make earth observations. SAT technology allows the spacecraft to peer through clouds and take radar images at any time, day or night. The RADARSATs provide surveillance of Canada and its adjacent waters, including ice, wind, pollution, resources, ecosystems, and ship monitoring. RCM will be used to provide the government, specifically the Department of National Defence, a way to monitor activity in the high Arctic.
RCM will be in an orbit which will provide complete coverage of Canada’s vast land mass, oceans and coastal approaches, at least once per day, and up to four times daily in the high Arctic. Data produced by the Constellation will support key Government of Canada priorities related to: the Northern Strategy, especially in the Arctic; Defence; Safety, Sovereignty and Security; the Environment; Natural Resources; and Agriculture.
RCM can be used globally as well. It can provide support in the aftermath of disasters ( flood monitoring and relief, oil spills, changes in the permafrost in northern Canada, volcano and earthquake warning and hurricane monitoring), and provide high resolution, all-weather imagery of most places in the world on a daily basis.
“This is exciting news,” said Daniel Friedmann, MDA’s president and CEO. “RCM builds on the world-leading geospatial and radar surveillance capabilities that MDA has developed through the RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 missions. We are now greatly expanding these capabilities with benefits for Canada and for MDA.”
“This is a major step forward for MDA as a leader in the growing global surveillance and intelligence market” said Friedmann. “With this contract, MDA has a strong foundation for continued development of its space missions, satellite ground systems, radar payload and geospatial services businesses.”
In Budget 2010, the Government of Canada allocated funds to complete the design and begin construction. The cost of the RCM project began to spiral upwards – from $600 million to over $1 billion. Expected follow-on contracts in Budget 2012 never materialized. It looked like the project was being shelved. As a result, MDA cut jobs.
Now the RCM project is back on track. The contract with MDA includes the completion of construction, the launch of the three satellites, planned for 2018; and the first year of operation of the mission.
The RADARSAT Constellation Mission project is led by the CSA and supported by its principal users: the Department of National Defence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Public Safety Canada.
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About Randy Attwood

Amateur astronomer, astrophotographer, space exploration historian. Executive Director, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada / Publisher - SkyNews magazine.

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