RADARSAT Constellation Mission Launch Date Set

Artist illustration of RADARSAT Constellation Mission launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9. Credit: CSA/MDA.

At long last Canada’s trio of new Synthetic Aperture Radar satellites, otherwise known as the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) has a launch date.

The launch is set for June 11. Of course that date could still change. Weather, an issue with the rocket, and the range, could always delay the launch, but this is the first time a specific day for the launch has been set. It suggests that just about everything is ready.

The third RCM spacecraft is about to be inserted in a thermal vacuum chamber for testing at the David Florida Laboratory.
The third RCM spacecraft is about to be inserted in a thermal vacuum chamber for testing at the David Florida Laboratory. Credit: CSA/John A. Brebner.

Though every launch has a certain amount of risk, SpaceX has proven that the Falcon 9 rocket is a reliable ride into space. However, if something should go wrong with the launch and all three satellites are lost, then Canada would be forced to build new ones. The satellites are insured by the government, meaning that if lost, taxpayers would be on the hook for the replacement cost, which would be around $1 billion.

Canada’s largest space company MDA, was the prime contractor for the mission but another 19 subcontractors from around the country also had a hand in building portions of the satellites.

The three satellites have been with SpaceX in California since September 30, 2018. Additional delays attributable to SpaceX including a backlog of launches and finding a suitable flight proven first stage meant the launch kept being pushed further into this year.

According to the Canadian Space Agency,  RCM has three main uses:

  • Maritime surveillance (ice, surface wind, oil pollution and ship monitoring);
  • Disaster management (mitigation, warning, response and recovery); and
  • Ecosystem monitoring (agriculture, wetlands, forestry and coastal change monitoring).

The RCM mission is critical capability for Canada’s Earth Observation (EO) needs.  In additional to its civil uses, the Department of National Defence will use data from the satellites for its mission in protecting the country.

The launch will be broadcast live on SpaceQ.

The Arctic faces a number of challenges. Our satellites keep an eye on this vast territory and its biodiversity. They monitor signs of climate change and sea ice, helping communities travel safely and facilitating navigation for ships. This visual illustrates 7 of the many ways space serves the Arctic and the Great Canadian North
The Arctic faces a number of challenges. Our satellites keep an eye on this vast territory and its biodiversity. They monitor signs of climate change and sea ice, helping communities travel safely and facilitating navigation for ships. This visual illustrates 7 of the many ways space serves the Arctic and the Great Canadian North. Credit: Canadian Space Agency.

Video: The Making of the RADARSAT Constellation

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About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 27 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.