Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

October 18, 2012 12:00 ET

Minister MacKay Officially Marks Departure of the Canadian Sapphire Satellite

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 18, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, celebrated the 'send-off' of the Sapphire small satellite at the Canadian Space Agency's David Florida Laboratory in Ottawa.

"As space continues to be an important part of the global security environment, the observational data from the Sapphire satellite will be integral to increasing our ability to protect Canadian and allies' assets and interests in space," said Minister MacKay. "Our government believes that this satellite is an essential component of our robust defence for Canada and North America, through NORAD."

Canada's Sapphire is the Department of National Defence's first dedicated operational military satellite. This space-based electro-optical sensor will track man-made space objects in high Earth orbit as part of Canada's continued support of Space Situational Awareness. Data from the Sapphire satellite will contribute to the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, enhancing the ability of both countries to detect and avoid the collision of critical space platforms with other orbital objects. Canada's contribution also ensures access to orbital data on space objects.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), as the primary contractor, has built the satellite and developed the Sapphire system following an open, transparent, and fair competition at a cost of under $66 million. Work on the design and development phases of Sapphire employed an average of 45 Canadians in skilled space sector jobs.

"This system underscores Canada's commitment to making a meaningful and functional contribution to space situational awareness," said Rear-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Chief of Force Development. "As we prepare to send off Canada's first dedicated operational satellite, I would like to congratulate our military and civilian project team for their hard work."

Sapphire is scheduled to be launched by the Indian Space Research Organization in the coming months.

Notes to editor / news director: Canadian Forces Combat Camera has prepared professional-quality high-definition still images and B-roll of the satellite. To download them, please access the gallery at the following link:

To obtain more information on space situational awareness and the Sapphire satellite, please access the following link:

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