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3.2.12 Status Report on Major Crown Projects



RADARSAT-1, Canada's first Earth Observation satellite is the only fully operational civilian remote sensing satellite that carries Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). This technology, contrary to optical sensor satellites, has the capacity to image day and night, in all weather conditions, regardless of cloud cover, smoke, haze and darkness. Launched in November 1995, RADARSAT-1 was meant to operate for five years with an impressive 96% operational reliability, to consistently supply timely, high-quality data to RADARSAT International (RSI) now a wholly owned subsidiary of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) and other partners (federal and provincial government departments, NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). RADARSAT-1 is now in its 11th year of operation.

RADARSAT-1 operations will continue with the same level of high performance for satellite reliability and image production, ensuring the supply of data until full commissioning of RADARSAT-2 in early 2008. A contingency plan is in place to prescribe the use of foreign sensors as backup to RADARSAT-1 in order to continue to meet the needs of operational users until RADARSAT-2 data becomes available.

RADARSAT-1 acquires high quality images of the Earth, covering most of Canada every 72 hours and the Arctic every 24 hours. It has proven itself in gathering the data needed for more efficient resource management (e.g. support to fishing, shipping, oil and gas exploration, offshore drilling, mapping) as well as ice, ocean and environmental monitoring, disaster management, and Arctic and offshore surveillance.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies

Sponsoring Agency: Canadian Space Agency
Contracting Authority: Public Works and Government Services Canada
Participating Departments: Environment CanadaNatural Resources Canada
(Canada Centre for Remote Sensing)

Prime and Major Sub-Contractors

Prime Contractor:

- EMS Technologies
(now MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates)


- Ste.-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec

Major Sub-Contractors:

- MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates
- SED Systems
- EMS Technologies
- Lockheed Martin


- Richmond, British Columbia
- Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- Ottawa, Ontario
- Cambridge, Ontario
- Longueuil, Quebec

Other Contractors:

- Ball Aerospace
- RADARSAT International (RSI)
(now MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates)


- Boulder, Colorado
- Richmond, British Columbia

Major Milestones

Major milestones of the RADARSAT-1 Major Crown Project are now complete.

Major Milestones

- Preliminary studies



- Feasibility and concept definition Complete
- Systems requirement and preliminary design Complete
- Development and testing up to qualification test review Complete
- Manufacture of the prototype flight sub-systems
up to acceptance testing of the sub-systems
- Assembly and integration of the sub-systems up to flight readiness review,
plus post-launch and commissioning activities up to system acceptance
- First Antarctica mission
- Second Antarctica mission
- Original Mission Life of five years
- Satellite Operations April 1996 to February 2008

Progress Report and Explanation of Variances

Effective Program Approval was obtained for RADARSAT-1 in March 1991, with launch in November 1995 and beginning of operations in April 1996. The initial system included receiving stations for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data in Prince Albert (Saskatchewan), Gatineau (Quebec), Fairbanks (Alaska) and McMurdo (Antarctica). CSA and RADARSAT International (now MDA) have since signed agreements with another 31 network stations distributed around the world: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Kasakhstan, South Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Puerto-Rico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United-States. Presently, a second station in Norway is undergoing the certification process. This list includes the agreements that have been also signed with transportable stations for the direct reception of RADARSAT-1 data: one in Italy, five in the U.S., one in Taiwan and one in France. Even more stations are expected to join the RADARSAT network in 2007.

Following a commissioning period, routine operations of RADARSAT-1 commenced in April 1996. The average system performance is being maintained at 95.8%. The worldwide client base includes more than 600 commercial and government users from over 60 countries.

Several system upgrades were completed over the past few years to enhance performance, reliability, and maintainability of RADARSAT-1. Highlights include: June 2005 - addition of a new Order Desk server for Joint Contingency Operation with ESA; November 2005 – completion of scheduled MMO/DBM database server and controller system upgrades (SunFire V240/Solaris 9 equipment); January 2006 – completion of a scheduled upgrade of all five planning stations in the MMO (SunBlade 100/Solaris 8 equipment); November 2006 – completion of a scheduled Order Desk dual redundant configuration system upgrade (SunFire V210/Solaris 10 equipment) and an improved algorithm and tool for computing shared SAR usage statistics was developed, validated and made operational.

Since October 2000, the CSA is a signatory, along with ESA and the Centre National d'tudes Spatiales (CNES) in France, to the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters. The emphasis of the Charter is on multi-satellite support for disaster response and mitigation efforts around the world utilising RADARSAT-1 and satellites of other Charter member agencies. Since its official launch, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Argentina's Comisin Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) have also joined the Charter and participate fully in its operations. Following the last Charter Board meeting hosted by the USGS at its EROS Centre in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in October 2006, negotiations are under way to include the U.S. private companies, GeoEye and DigitalGlobe, in the Charter operations to have access to some of the world's highest resolution satellite remote sensing data.

So far, there have been 116 activations of the Charter on events such as: floods in France, Canada, Russia, Austria, Germany, Indonesia, Morocco, Argentina, Nepal, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Sudan, Hati, Namibia, the Czech Republic, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Hungary, Romania and Colombia; landslides in Slovenia, Italy, Nepal, Russia and the Philippines; earthquakes in El Salvador, India, Afghanistan, Turkey, Algeria and Iran; volcanic eruptions in Italy, Congo, Montserrat, Colombia and Spain; oil spills off the coasts of Ecuador, Lebanon, Denmark, Yemen and Spain; forest fires in France, Portugal, Canada and Bolivia; and, wind storms in India and Mexico. The Charter extensively covered three of recent history's most devastating disasters, namely the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the Kashmir earthquake. The coverage of the Asian tsunami was furthermore conducted under CSA's direct lead.

The RADARSAT-1 system has been improved to provide on average a less than 2.5-hour turnaround in the electronic delivery of images to the Canadian Ice Service (CIS) for the production of ice charts and bulletins for the Canadian Coast Guard and other marine clients. The CIS continues to be one of the leading users of RADARSAT-1 data since the first operational data began to flow in February 1996. Recently, the CIS has been collaborating with Noetix Research, CSA, and RSI (now MDA) on an ESA-sponsored Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) Project - The Northern View - to provide regular RADARSAT-1 images in support of a Floe Edge Service for two communities in the Canadian Arctic.

The RADARSAT-1 Background Mission has archived one of the largest microwave remote sensing data collections in the world. In fact, it is the first multi-mode uniformly collected database of its kind ever created. The data archive is the result of several Background Mission global coverage campaigns undertaken in the past seven years. These include a complete coverage of the world's continents, continental shelves and polar ice caps, as well as complete coverage of nearly the Earth's entire landmass with two RADARSAT-1 imaging beams for the first ever beam-pair stereo data collection. This is the world's largest radargrammetric dataset currently available. Some of the continents, including North America, were covered more than once to generate seasonal snapshots in the form of wide-area SAR mosaics. High-resolution RADARSAT-1 image mosaics of Canada, the U.S., Australia and Africa were produced with the Background Mission data. Several time- and site-specific coverage types have also been done, such as that of the remote oceanic island localities, the world's major cities and capitals. A seasonal coverage of the tropical deltas is also underway, as is also a four-season continuous coverage of the Arctic. The latter coverage, which now has uninterrupted data records over the Arctic since the summer of 2003, supports the growing interest in the Arctic and climate change captured within the International Polar Year (IPY) activities. These baseline coverage campaigns of RADARSAT-1 have established benchmarks for the follow-on Canadian SAR missions to build upon.

MDA/GSI continues to provide Earth-Observation data, derived information products, and leading-edge services to global clients. The broad range of MDA/GSI products includes geo-corrected imagery, digital elevation models, and application-specific products such as flood and ocean oil-seep vectors to meet the demands for new markets. Products are delivered to clients via Internet in near-real time for time-critical operations such as disaster management and ship navigation. Other services include training, monitoring and emergency response services, and custom product generation, as well as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) project implementation.

Industrial Benefits

The Canadian Space Agency undertook a study to determine the achievements of RADARSAT data in support of ice mapping and related activities in Canada. The Canadian Ice Services was the first Canadian Government operational user of RADARSAT-1 data. The departments of Environment Canada (EC) Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Transport Canada (TC) National Defense (ND) Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) have coordinated their efforts to implement an Integrated Satellite Tracking for Polluters initiative (ISTOP). In coordinating their effort they have been more effective and able to reduce their cost in sharing RADARSAT data acquired to monitor the targeted area. It became fully operational in 2006-2007. RADARSAT-1 provides observations over a wider geographical area, at much lower cost and risk, and in much less time than with an aircraft. As a result, CIS has been able to improve its operational efficiency. Over five years (1995 to 2000), the net average annual savings to CIS operations have been about $7.7 million per year ($38.5 million over 5 years), with the same per year benefits continuing up to and including the eighth year of operations for RADARSAT-1.

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), the largest direct customer of CIS products, has felt these benefits most significantly. The CCG Ice Operation Centres can provide improved routing information to commercial shipping, which allows for faster transit times. The shipping industry has benefited from the accuracy of RADARSAT information to produce ice charts. The shipping companies believe that as a result of RADARSAT-based ice charts, there have been savings in transit time through ice-infested waters. These commercial shipping savings are estimated to be $18 million a year. Other benefits included less damage to ships and a reduction in the need for CCG escorts. The CCG has estimated dollar savings in both operating costs and transit time to be between $3.6 million and $7 million a year, depending on the severity of ice conditions.

In the past, the prime contractor SPAR and its Canadian sub-contractors created over 2,000 person-years of high technology employment during the construction phase of RADARSAT-1. Ongoing mission operations employ 75 people at CSA headquarters in Longueuil (Quebec), 7 in Saskatoon (Saskatchewan), 15 at ground stations in Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) and Gatineau (Quebec), as well as more than 80 at RSI (now MDA) in Richmond (British Columbia). In the highly competitive marketplace for space-based information, MDA continues to capture roughly 15% of the world's space borne remote sensing market. MDA has continued to process scenes and integrate RADARSAT data into information products for delivery to nearly 600 clients in 60 countries, and furthermore, MDA has signed up 80 international distributions, 18 RADARSAT-1 Network Stations and 11 Resources Centres. The market development for data archives is likely to be significant and an area in which new benefits may develop.



The next generation of Canadian SAR-based satellite, RADARSAT-2, will be the most advanced satellite of its kind in the world. RADARSAT-2 will continue to provide all-weather, day-and-night coverage of the entire globe to support fishing, shipping, oil and gas exploration, offshore drilling, mapping and ocean research. Equipped with a C-band radar system, it will be the first fully commercial SAR satellite to offer multi-polarization, an important aid in identifying a wide variety of surface features and targets. It will also have the capability to image both the right and left with a resolution down to three metres and to access an area of 800 kilometres on either side. This translates into a new range of products and services, which will contribute valuable new information on natural resources and the global environment.

The RADARSAT-2 Major Crown Project, in partnership with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), is elaborating the design, development, testing, deployment and operations of a space-borne SAR satellite to provide global coverage of terrestrial phenomena as a follow-up to RADARSAT-1. The current estimated total cost from CSA budget is $421.6 million.

RADARSAT-2 design and construction improves upon RADARSAT-1, with new capabilities to ensure Canada's continued leadership in the satellite remote sensing global marketplace and to create a commercial industrial satellite remote sensing industry in Canada.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies

Sponsoring Agency: Canadian Space Agency
Contracting Authority for the CSA/MDA Master Agreement: Canadian Space Agency
Participating Departments: Natural Resources Canada (Canada Centre for Remote Sensing)
Environment Canada
Industry Canada
Fisheries and Oceans
National Defence
Foreign Affairs
International Trade
Agriculture Canada

Prime and Major Sub-Contractors

Prime Contractor:

- MacDonald Dettwiler, and Associates (MDA)


- Richmond, British Columbia

Major Sub-Contractors:

- EMS Technologies (now MacDonald Dettwiler, and Associates)
- Alenia Aerospazio
- AEC Able Engineering Co.
- RADARSAT international (RSI) (now MacDonald Dettwiler, and Associates)


- Ste.-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec
- Rome, Italy
- Goletta, California
- Richmond, British Columbia
- Baikonur, Kazakhstan

Major Milestones

The major milestones on Major Crown Projects, by phase, are the following:

Phase Major Milestones Date
A and B Requirement Definition June 1999
C System Design May 2002
D1 Sub-system Construction September 2005
D2 Integration and Testing January 2007
E1 Pre-launch Preparations July 2007
E2 Launch
System Commissioning
November 2007
February 2008
E3 Operations 2008 to 2014

Progress Report and Explanation of Variances

In June 1994, the government directed the CSA to develop an arrangement with the private sector for the development and operation of a RADARSAT follow-on program to maintain continuity of data following RADARSAT-1. In February 1998, following a formal Request for Proposal, MDA was selected to construct and operate RADARSAT-2.

The CSA and MDA signed a Master Agreement in December 1998 for the RADARSAT-2 mission, under a firm price agreement in which the government contribution was $225 million, in exchange for data. MDA was to invest $80 million. The Master Agreement between the CSA and MDA was updated in January 2000 to reflect changes in the schedule and the latest cost estimates. The company (MDA) is responsible for spacecraft operations and business development, while the CSA is responsible for arranging the launch and maintaining the long-term national archive of RADARSAT-2 data. The CSA will also provide an additional "in-kind" contribution of certain assets, plus the services of its David Florida Laboratory and the NRC Institute of Aerospace Research Laboratory for spacecraft integration and testing.

In November 1998, Treasury Board approved the RADARSAT-2 Major Crown Project with a funding envelope of $242.2 million. In March 2000, Treasury Board approved an increase of $47.1 million to cover the cost of changing bus suppliers, required by US -government restrictions imposed on the US bus supplier at that time, and an increase of $12.3 million for upgrades to existing satellite ground station infrastructures. In June 2000, Treasury Board approved an increase of $108 million to cover the cost of procuring a commercial launch as a result of NASA withdrawing from the agreement to provide launch for RADARSAT-2 in exchange for data, as it did for RADARSAT-1. In June 2001, Treasury Board approved an increase of $6 million to cover the cost of critical modifications to be made to the RADARSAT-2 spacecraft in order to accommodate a potential future tandem mission with RADARSAT-3.

The development of the RADARSAT-2 satellite has progressed, though at a slower pace than planned. Delays encountered by the main contractor and sub-contractors in the production of some of the satellite components have resulted in a significant delay in the assembly, integration and testing of the spacecraft. The Extendible Support Structure (ESS), one of the primary spacecraft sub-systems, was delivered to the Assembly, Integration and Test (AI&T) site at the David Florida Laboratory (DFL) in October 2003. The Solar Arrays and the Bus were delivered to DFL in April and May 2004, respectively. The SAR antenna was delivered in September 2005. The assembly, integration and test of the RADARSAT-2 spacecraft was completed in time at the David Florida Laboratory, along with the operations-preparations activities at CSA St-Hubert, Quebec, and launch campaign in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Launch on a Soyuz rocket was rescheduled in November 2007. The initial phase of the commissioning of RADARSAT-2 should be completed by February 2008.

Any additional costs to complete the construction and launch of RADARSAT-2 will be at the main contractor's expense. However, these additional delays will require that the CSA RADARSAT-2 project office remain operational beyond the time for which funding is available. The necessary funding to cover all additional expenditures has been set aside in the CSA Five Year Risk Assessment and Source of Funds Plan.

Industrial Benefits

Significant industrial benefits in the space and earth observation sector are expected from this next-generation satellite system. The RADARSAT-2 program will generate employment growth in the Canadian knowledge-based economy, mostly from export sales, and spur the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses as the Canadian infrastructure and services industry continues to grow.

A major objective of this project is the transition of the Earth Observation industry from the public sector to the private sector. The intention is to build on the SAR data and value-added markets established with RADARSAT-1 to strengthen the Canadian industry's position as a supplier of SAR-related technology, systems and value-added products and services. Specifically, manufacturing potential and competitiveness will be encouraged in Canadian industry in the areas of phased array antenna design/manufacture, high performance receiver/transmitter design and manufacture, and enhanced structure design. Moreover, opportunities will be created for the export of ground station systems. The new capabilities also make new applications possible, creating new and expanded markets for data sales and value-added products.

As of March 31, 2006, the Canadian Space Program has funded $377.8 million worth of work to Canadian industry directly attributable to the RADARSAT-2 Major Crown Project (MCP). Direct industrial benefits from the construction of the RADARSAT-2 system will benefit all regions of Canada. The regional distribution of direct industrial benefits is shown in the following table.

Regional Distribution of RADARSAT-2 Contracts
(as of January 2007)

Program British
Ontario Quebec Atlantic Total
RADARSAT-2 54.4% 3.7% 5.4% 35.9% 0.7% 100%

Note: Due to rounding, decimals may not add up to totals shown.

Summary of Non-Recurring Expenditures ($ in millions)
(as of March 2007)

RADARSAT-2 Current Estimated Total Expenditure Actual Spending March 31, 2007 Planned Spending 2007-2008 Future Years
421.6 404.1 17.5 0