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.
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.
Video: The Making of the RADARSAT Constellation