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Sun, Feb 27, 2005

Canada To Build, Launch Three More Satellites

New Canadian Satellite Constellation To Assess Environmental Impacts, Ensure Sovereignty

The Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Marc Garneau, President, CSA, has announced details of funding in the 2005 federal budget for the development and construction of a series of three Earth observation satellites.

The satellites will monitor environmental impacts on Earth, promote sustainable development and help ensure Canadian sovereignty and security for decades to come.

In the 2005 federal budget, the Government of Canada committed $3 billion for research, regional development and sectoral support. The CSA will receive $111 million of that amount to dedicate to this initiative.

"The Government of Canada is committed to promoting the space component of our aerospace sector through the development of applications that are relevant to Canadians, such as monitoring climate change impacts and protecting our sovereignty," said Minister Emerson. "The Canadian Space Program's leadership in developing and promoting Earth observation applications will increase Canadians' security and provide a better understanding of the environmental health of our country, both now and in the future."

This three-satellite radar constellation will benefit Canada and other nations by providing more timely and comprehensive data than is currently available, and the ability to track ice conditions and support ship navigation in the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes and along Canadian coastlines. It will also support disaster management by detecting oil spills, monitoring floods, aiding forest fire fighting, and providing information on the evolution of disaster areas worldwide. The radar constellation will ensure Canadian sovereignty and security through coastal surveillance by satellite in all weather conditions.

"Canada's space community has already demonstrated its leadership in remote sensing through the development of RADARSAT-1 and its successor, RADARSAT-2," said Dr. Garneau. "This constellation will provide more frequent coverage over all of Canada - day and night and in all weather conditions -ensuring radar data continuity for both private and public users well into the next two decades."

Funding for this initiative was provided for in the February 2005 federal budget and is therefore built into the existing fiscal framework.

The Government of Canada is committed to understanding and promoting environmental protection and the sustainable development of our nation. These are key drivers behind its continued support and investment in Earth observation and remote sensing to study the conditions of our planet, using data from space-based satellites.

Canada's space community has demonstrated its leadership in remote sensing through the development of RADARSAT-1, a versatile satellite launched in 1995 to capture radar images continuously and in all weather conditions. As Canada's sentinel, it has surpassed all expectations in becoming an integral part of coastal and marine surveillance and pollution patrol, and an indispensable tool for disaster monitoring worldwide. Its successor, RADARSAT-2, is set for launch in 2006.

Since these sophisticated satellites take many years to develop, the Government of Canada is now planning for the next generation of radar satellites. It is proposing a constellation of three small radar satellites instead of a single large one. This series, or constellation, will provide more frequent coverage over Canada - it would fly over any part of Canada at least once a day, and more frequently over the North - and greatly reduce the risk of an interruption in service.

This radar satellite constellation will benefit Canada and other nations with more timely and comprehensive data, including:

  • Monitoring of ice for navigation in the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, and our coastal waters. Without radar satellite images, the Canadian Ice Service would spend an additional $15-20 million a year on more frequent airplane and helicopter flyovers for vastly inferior images.
  • Supporting disaster management by detecting oil spills, monitoring floods, supporting forest fire fighters, and providing information on the evolution of disaster areas. Canada's expertise was demonstrated recently in south Asia where RADARSAT-1 monitored conditions in zones where the tsunami struck: the coasts of Southern India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.
  • Supporting Canadian sovereignty and security through coastal surveillance by satellite in all weather conditions, including detecting ships in the far North and in our coastal waters. If a satellite spots an anomaly, a vessel or plane can be dispatched to the area.

Canadian companies have proven they are the vanguard in the development of radar satellite data products and services for commercial use. Scientific and commercial users in such fields as agriculture, cartography, hydrology, forestry, oceanography, ice studies and coastal monitoring will also greatly benefit from more readily accessible radar data.

FMI: www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/default.asp

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