December 17, 2007

Canadian Earth-Watching Satellite Finally Reaches Orbit

Canada's Radarsat-2 Earth observation satellite, which has been almost a decade
in design and construction, launched successfully Friday aboard a Russian Soyuz-Fregat
rocket from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, according to
launch-services provider Starsem S.A. of France.

The 4,850-pound
(2,200-kilogram) Radarsat-2 is expected to operate for seven years in a 495-mile
(798-kilometer), sun-synchronous low Earth orbit and provide radar images with
a ground resolution as sharp as 10 feet (three meters) and as wide as 328 feet
(100 meters).

being delayed by a host of technical and policy issues over the years, Radarsat-2
arrived in orbit
in time to assure continuous radar Earth observation for
Canadian authorities before Radarsat-1 is retired.

which provides images with a maximum sharpness of 10 meters, was launched in
1995 on what was designed as a five-year mission. It continues to operate

features an improved on-board memory and image-taking flexibility as well as a
higher-resolution imaging mode. It is the product of a partnership between the
Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) of
Richmond, British Columbia CSA has said its total Radarsat-2 budget is 421.6
million Canadian dollars ($419 million), and that MDA has spent an additional
90 million Canadian dollars on the satellite.

The launch
of Radarsat-2 brings to a close an unusually busy year for radar Earth observation.
German and Italian high-resolution
radar satellites
also began service this year, for both government and
commercial customers.

MDA is
Radarsat-2 prime contractor, with Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy providing the satellite platform. An MDA unit supplied the radar sensor.

The launch
was managed by Starsem of Paris, a French-Russian joint venture that markets
Soyuz rockets commercially.