SpaceX is launching some Earth-observing satellites part of the Radarsat Constellation Mission on June 12
14 June, 2019, 23:33
After several months of delays and rescheduling, SpaceX is expected to launch its Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:17 a.m. Wednesday.
"Built by MDA, a Maxar company, the three-satellite configuration of the RCM will provide daily revisits of Canada's vast territory and maritime approaches, including the Arctic up to 4 times a day, as well as daily access to any point of 90 percent of the world's surface", SpaceX wrote.
Falcon 9's first stage for this mission previously supported Crew Dragon's first demonstration mission in March 2019. Once in orbit, they will travel at speeds of around 16,900 miles per hour, completing a full circle of the Earth in approximately 96 minutes. Following the separation, SpaceX says it will try to land the rocket on a landing pad, right next to the launch site.
The satellites, built by Maxar Technologies' MDA division, are created to observe Earth from sun-synchronous orbit using C-band synthetic aperture radar.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rose out of California's coastal fog today to send three radar-sensing satellites into orbit for the Canadian government. The three RCM satellites were successfully released one at a time starting about 54 minutes after liftoff.
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The RCM satellites represent the next stage of Canada's Radarsat program, which eyes our planet in radio-wavelength light.
"Why is this important?" With a low-population density, space-based environmental monitoring is "a natural choice for monitoring our assets".
Such radar instruments will produce high-resolution, daily scans of Canada and the Arctic - revealing the status of sea ice, crop moisture and terrain features even when the skies are obscured by clouds.
"Overlaid on top of the radar images this can help pinpoint ships that may be in trouble, or rogue ships that do not want to be found", Wierus said. Tests and checkout will take another three to six months before routine operations begin.
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