Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

January 30, 2014 13:00 ET

Sapphire Satellite System Is Declared Fully Operational

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jan. 30, 2014) - Department of National Defence

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) space situational awareness satellite Sapphire has completed its operational testing and has been officially declared a contributing sensor to the U.S. Space Surveillance Network.

Data from this satellite will be incorporated into an international catalogue that is used to help prevent collisions in space. Sapphire will help safeguard over a trillion dollars of critical space assets such as telecommunications, weather, search and rescue, and earth observation satellites, as well as the Global Positioning System.

With the declaration of full operational capability, Sapphire will enter its five-year operational phase. Notably, the program has delivered all required capabilities for approximately $10.1 million less than its original budget of $96.4 million.

Quick Facts

  • Sapphire monitors space objects orbiting between 6,000 and 40,000 kilometres above the Earth's surface on a 24-hour basis.
  • Unlike land-based sensors, Sapphire is not affected by weather conditions and cloud cover.
  • By monitoring space from space, Canada is providing an important niche contribution to the international space surveillance system.


"Given the reliance of Canada on space technology, we need to cooperate with other nations on space surveillance to protect our assets and infrastructure. Through Sapphire's contribution to the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, we reduce the risk of losing critical capabilities, such as telecommunications, weather, earth observation, and GPS."

- The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls and Minister of National Defence

"With the Sapphire satellite system now fully operational, the risk of collisions between space objects will be significantly reduced. Sapphire will help protect our critical space assets in support of Canadian Armed Forces operations both at home and abroad."

- Lieutenant-General Guy Thibault, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff

Related Products

Backgrounder - Space Situational Awareness and the Sapphire Satellite

Associated Links

News Release - The Canadian Sapphire satellite is successfully launched

News Release - Minister MacKay officially marks departure of the Canadian Sapphire satellite

Contact Information

  • Julie Di Mambro
    Press Secretary to the Minister of National Defence
    Office of the Minister of the Department of National Defence
    (613) 996-3100

    Media Relations
    Department of National Defence
    (613) 996-2353
    Toll-Free: 1 866 377-0811