Used SpaceX Rocket Will Launch 3 Earth-Observing Satellites

Katie Ramirez
June 14, 2019

About 55 minutes after lift-off, the second stage of the rocket will begin deploying the new generation satellites-which were commissioned by the CSA to boost Canada's Earth observation capabilities-at an altitude of around 370 miles above our planet.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rose out of California's coastal fog today to send three radar-sensing satellites into orbit for the Canadian government.

Falcon 9's first stage for this mission previously supported Crew Dragon's first demonstration mission in March 2019. It also provided an interesting landing for the Falcon 9 booster as it returned to land at Vandenberg shortly after separation.

While in orbit, the Falcon 9 jettisoned three RADARSAT satellites, which were developed by the Canadian Space Agency and act as a constellation of data-gathering platforms.

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On Wednesday, SpaceX successfully launched the RADARSAT Constellation Mission for MDA, a Maxar company, from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The mission will capture images of Earth's water, land, ice and atmosphere during the day and night and in all types of weather, including heavy cloud cover, smoke and haze.

The satellites, built by Maxar Technologies' MDA division, are created to observe Earth from sun-synchronous orbit using C-band synthetic aperture radar. "It's because we can use these images to measure changes in ground movement, for example, which can help us understand what's happening on the Earth better", said Magdalena Wierus, the RADARSAT Constellation project management engineer. RADARSAT-2 went up in 2007 and remains active. The trio is designed for an operating life of seven years. It will have daily access to 90 per cent of the world's surface. While the satellites are expected to see usage for ecosystem monitoring, agriculture and disaster relief efforts, the inclusion of an Automated Identification System (AIS) for ships will also improve the tracking of vessels of interest.

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