Three Canadian SAR satellites were launched by SpaceX’s Falcon, which can provide high-res images for shorter visit times. The liftoff took place at Vandenburg on schedule without any hitches despite there being a dense fog, preventing visibility of the rocket and its liftoff.
The rocket’s first stage landed back 8 minutes after launch at the scheduled zone next to its launch site. This rocket deployed its RCM satellites an hour post-liftoff. They were released in a time span of 7 and half minutes. MDA, which is Maxar Technologies’ Canadian subsidiary, had built these 3 satellites for government purposes. They weigh 1430 kg each and follow a sun-synchronous path spaced out in a 600 km orbit. SAR imagery sharp up to 3m will be produced.
A constellation development instead of 1 satellite alone would increase the revisit times. 90% of the Earth would be covered in 24 hours, along with Arctic regions receiving specific focus. AIS sensors will also help it track and identify ships. These satellites also continue the Radarsat series of satellites. It has crossed its designed lifespan, which is why the government is eager for these satellites to commence operations.
Over $900 million is expected to be the bill for all 3 satellites and their related costs. All imaging capacities of these RCM constellation satellites are owned by the government alone, unlike Radarsat-2 where the MDA Corps sold the data to Canada along with other customers. President Sylvain Laporte of the CSA stated that transfer of ownership of images wasn’t due to performance issues with MDA Corp, but a new outlook at the program. Government ownership of the data meant that it could be freely shared, unlike commercial data where it had several restrictions.
CSA has begun planning next-gen RCM missions after the current one ends in 2026. Laporte stated that several creative enhancements could be made possible for the next one. This was SpaceX’s 7th launch this year. The rest of its launches this year will be done in Florida.