MDA plans to launch a synthetic-aperture radar satellite capable of acquiring imagery over a 700-kilometer swath, as a follow-on to Radarsat-2. Credit: MDA

SAN FRANCISCO – MDA’s Radarsat-2 follow-on will include a C-band synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite in a mid-inclination orbit capable of collecting imagery in a 700-kilometer swath at a resolution of 50 meters per pixel.

Customers will be able to task the new MDA SAR satellite to obtain imagery within one hour, compared with four hours for Radarsat-2. Speedy tasking means customers will be able to re-task the satellite to obtain additional imagery within a single orbit, an MDA spokewoman told SpaceNews.

In addition, MDA plans to delivery imagery and data to customers within 15 minutes of acquisition, compared with less than one hour for Radarsat-2.

MDA has not yet announced how or when it will launch the Radarsat-2 Continuity Mission. Radarsat-2, built by MDA in partnership with the Canadian government and launched in 2007, continues to provide data and imagery to government and commercial customers.

By sending the Radarsat-2 follow-on into an inclined orbit, MDA seeks to offer customers imagery of sites at different times of the day. With the new satellites, MDA also plans to “offer enhanced client-controlled priority tasking, guaranteeing image collection when needed,” according to a Sept. 27 news release.

The Radarsat-2 follow-on is designed to cover large geographic areas. Imagery of the entire New Zealand Exclusive Economic zone, for example, could be obtained within 24 hours.

“For decades, governments, commercial and institutional customers worldwide have counted on MDA’s Earth-observation data to tackle some of the world’s biggest issues including national sovereignty and maritime border protection, illegal fishing, natural disasters and the effects of climate change,” MDA CEO Mike Greenley said in a statement. “Leveraging the latest innovation and scientific advancements to provide a new level of real-time and actionable insight, our fourth generation Earth-observation satellite will once again change how and when we see our planet.”

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...