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9. 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), a wholly owned subsidiary of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) and other partners (federal and provincial government departments, NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). RADARSAT-1 is now in its ninth 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 mid 2007. 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

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies

Sponsoring Agency: Canadian Space Agency
Contracting Authority: Public Works and Government Services Canada
Participating Departments: Environment Canada
Natural 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)

- 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 Complete
- Assembly and integration of the sub-systems up to flight readiness review, plus post-launch and commissioning activities up to system acceptance Complete
- First Antarctica mission
- Second Antarctica mission
- Original Mission Life of five years


- Satellite operations April 1996 to December 2006

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 (RSI) have since signed agreements with another 25 network stations distributed around the world: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Puerto-Rico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United-States. In addition to this list, agreements have been also signed with mobile stations for the direct reception of RADARSAT-1 data: four in the U.S., one in Taiwan and one in France. Presently, a fifth U.S. and an Italian mobile station are undergoing the certification process. Even more stations have joined the RADARSAT-1 network in 2005.

Following a commissioning period, routine operations of RADARSAT-1 commenced in April 1996. At the end of November 2004, 193,394 RADARSAT-1 user requests had been planned, and an estimated 349,584 minutes of SAR data had been acquired during more than 47,352 orbits. 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 improvements were made to the RADARSAT-1 operations planning system. First, the new Data Loss Information System (DLIS) database was integrated in the Mission Management Office database, providing visibility of data losses to Order Desk clients for the first time in the mission. The DLIS front-end interface was also improved to facilitate data entry and tracking of data losses. Second, the new OBR planning strategy was tested extensively with the Order Desk and made operational, thus optimising OBR usage by storing only user requested data on tape. Third, new functionality was added in the mission planning software and associated planning tools for allowing new network stations to the RADARSAT-1 network, well beyond the previous limit of 26 stations. In addition, the RSI Order Desk server was upgraded and successfully moved to CSA from RSI (Richmond, British Columbia) for improved performance, security, and maintainability. All four Order Desk servers are now located at CSA.

Moreover, in October 2000, the CSA became a signatory, along with ESA and the Centre National d'Études 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) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have also joined the Charter (September 2001) and participate fully in Charter operations. CONAE, or Argentina's Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, became the latest member when the Argentinean Foreign Minister signed the Charter on July 16, 2003, during a state visit of the President of Argentina to France. The operational integration of CONAE in the Charter has now been completed and CONAE has assumed its full responsibility under the Charter.

Japan's membership application has been accepted and Japan is expected to sign the Charter soon with operational integration to follow. So far, there have been 63 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, Haïti, Namibia, the Czech Republic, 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. One of the recent Charter activations took place following devastating forest fires in British Columbia. RADARSAT-1 images and the CSA satellite operations team played a lead role, thus providing a great deal of international visibility for the Canadian Space Program.

The RADARSAT-1 system has been improved to provide a less than 2.5-hour turnaround (on average) 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 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 a large majority of 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. Several time- and site-specific coverage types have also been done, such as remote oceanic island localities and major cities and capitals. A seasonal coverage of the tropical deltas is also underway. High-resolution RADARSAT-1 image mosaics of Canada, the U.S., Australia and Africa were produced with Background Mission data. The four-season continuous coverage of the Arctic basin is underway, to continue until the end of satellite operations. This coverage supports growing interest in the Arctic and climate change.

RSI continues to provide Earth-Observation data, derived information products, and leading-edge services to global clients. The broad range of RSI 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. To date, the Canadian Ice Services is the only Canadian Government operational user of RADARSAT-1 data. 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 in Richmond (British Columbia). In the highly competitive marketplace for space-based information, RSI continues to capture roughly 15% of the world's space borne remote sensing market. RSI has continued to process scenes and integrate RADARSAT data into information products for delivery to nearly 600 clients in 60 countries, and furthermore, RSI 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.