The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), today announced that MDA of Richmond, British Columbia has been awarded a contract to carry out the conceptual design and mission definition for a new fleet of Earth Observation satellites. Approved in Budget 2005, the specialised satellite constellation is made up of three small spacecraft to complement the legacy RADARSAT Program, and will be known as the RADARSAT Constellation.

“The small satellite constellation will enhance Canada’s ability to ensure its sovereignty and security through space-borne coastal surveillance,” said Minister Bernier. “It will also ensure the continuity of data services for government departments and a growing number of commercial clients in more than 60 countries worldwide.” Like RADARSAT, the three-satellite radar constellation will be designed to function day and night in all weather conditions.

The RADARSAT Constellation will benefit Canada and other nations by providing more timely and comprehensive data than is currently available, enhancing the tracking of ice in Canada’s navigational waters, and supporting safe shipping in the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway and along Canada’s coastlines.

The constellation will also support Canada’s contribution to global disaster management and rescue efforts by detecting oil spills, monitoring floods, landslides and eruptions, aiding forest firefighting, and providing information on the evolution of disaster areas worldwide.

Under this $7 million contract, awarded on behalf of the CSA by Public Works and Government Services Canada, MDA will carry out the conceptual design work for the planned future satellite constellation to assure the continuity of data information first offered to Government departments and commercial users by RADARSAT-1 in 1995. RADARSAT-2 will offer finer resolution, increased capacity and features and is presently being tested at the CSA’s David Florida Laboratory in Ottawa in anticipation of a launch scheduled in December 2006 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

About the Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) coordinates all civil, space-related policies and programs on behalf of the Government of Canada. CSA directs its resources and activities through four key thrusts: Earth Observation, Space Science and Exploration, Satellite Communications, and Space Awareness and Learning. By leveraging international cooperation, the CSA generates world-class scientific research and industrial development for the benefit of humanity.