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Canada to launch Radarsat-2 this year

Canada, 09 April 2007: After years of delays, the Canadian military expects to begin using the Radarsat-2 satellite for Arctic surveillance next year, and later expand the spacecraft’s mission to include monitoring of the country’s maritime approaches.

The Canadian Forces has been ready to proceed with its surveillance project, dubbed Polar Epsilon, but has had to wait because of delays in the launch of the satellite, a joint venture of the Canadian government and industry. Radarsat-2 was supposed to be launched in 2006, but that was delayed to March of this year. It will now launch sometime near the end of this summer, according to the Canadian Space Agency.

Canada will now launch Radarsat-2 from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket. MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates of Richmond, British Columbia, built and will operate Radarsat-2. The government has spent about 430 million Canadian dollars on the spacecraft, with MacDonald Dettwiler contributing 91 million Canadian dollars. Canada will recoup its money through the provision of Radarsat-2 images for the Canadian Forces and other government agencies, up to an equivalent value of its investment.

In addition, the Canadian Forces will spend 59.9 million Canadian dollars on the Polar Epsilon segment of Radarsat-2. Most of that funding is earmarked for Polar Epsilon’s ground infrastructure. That includes the satellite-reception dishes, processors and software, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Robert Quinn, project director for Polar Epsilon.