Updated at 2:04 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON — A Canadian military satellite designed to track objects in high Earth orbit with an electo-optical sensor has completed its commissioning and commenced operations, according to a Jan. 30 press release from the program’s prime contractor, MDA Corp. of Richmond, British Columbia.

The announcement came several months later than initial estimates of when the 148-kilogram satellite, built by MDA with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of Britain, would be declared fit for service as a contributing element to the U.S. Space Surveillance Network (SSN). The satellite was launched in February 2013 aboard India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.. 

The Canadian Defence Department said Sapphire’s development, including the ground infrastructure, ultimately cost some 94.6 million Canadian dollars ($94 million), which is about 10 percent less than its budget. It is scheduled to operate for five years.

Follow Mike on Twitter: @Gruss_SN

Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...