OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 25, 2013) - Sapphire, Canada's first dedicated operational military satellite, was successfully launched today from Sriharikota, India, by the Indian Space Research Organization.
"It is with great pleasure that I announce that Canada's Sapphire satellite has been successfully launched," said Defence Minister Peter MacKay. "Sapphire is a sound investment that will help safeguard billions of dollars of space assets, in fields such as telecommunications, weather, search and rescue, and global positioning systems."
Canada's Sapphire, a space-based electro-optical sensor, will track man-made space objects in high Earth orbit in order to improve Canada's 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.
"The launch of Sapphire ensures the Canadian Armed Forces' continued cooperation with other nations in the area of space surveillance," said Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff. "This milestone marks another important step in reducing the threat to our critical space capabilities."
Sapphire will now enter the commissioning phase. During this phase, the primary contractor, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, Ltd., will ensure the satellite meets all performance requirements. Upon completion of the commissioning phase, an operational test and evaluation phase will be completed by the Department of National Defence. Sapphire is expected to be ready to begin contributing to the network by July, 2013.
To obtain more information on space situational awareness and the Sapphire satellite, please access the following link: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?id=4457.