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Canada's Radarsat-1 "Experiencing Technical Difficulties"

Canada's Radarsat-1 Earth-observation satellite "is experiencing technical difficulties," according to a short statement from the satellite's builder MDA Corp. of Richmond, British Columbia. 

RICHMOND, BC, April 9, 2013 /CNW/ - MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. ("MDA" or the "Company") (TSX: MDA), a global communications and information company, today announced that RADARSAT-1 is experiencing technical difficulties. The Canadian Space Agency is continuing to diagnose and attempt to resolve the technical issues.  The impact of RADARSAT-1 not functioning is not significant to MDA's business.


In a separate release, the Canadian Space Agency said the satellite has been placed in safe mode to conserve energy while engineers troubleshoot the anomaly. However, prospects of a full recovery are low.

RADARSAT-1 Malfunction

Longueuil, Quebec, April 9, 2013 – On March 29, 2013, Canada's first Earth Observation satellite, RADARSAT-1, experienced a technical anomaly.

As a result it entered into "safe mode", a semi-dormant state by which the spacecraft conserves energy. This provides the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) operations team with the required time to investigate and assess any necessary remedial action.

This situation does not impact the security of Canadian borders, coasts and northern territories as RADARSAT-2 continues to provide critical, high-quality data. Government and commercial users of RADARSAT-1 have been advised that no new orders for imagery are being accepted, but that requests for archival images will continue to be processed.

Launched in 1995, RADARSAT-1 is a great technological success story for the Canadian space sector and it has surpassed its expected lifetime by 12 years.

The investigation is ongoing, but expectations of a full recovery are low. The CSA will provide updates as new information becomes available.

Background Information


Developed and operated by the CSA, RADARSAT-1 monitors environmental changes and the planet's natural resources. Launched November 4, 1995, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, RADARSAT-1 provides Canada and the world with an operational radar satellite system capable of the timely delivery of large amounts of data.

The sophisticated satellite is equipped with a powerful synthetic aperture radar instrument that acquires images of the Earth day-and-night, in all weather, through cloud cover, smoke and haze. As early as February 1996, it began providing information to government, scientists and commercial users in the fields of cartography, ice studies and observations, hydrology, oceanography, agriculture, forestry and disaster management. RADARSAT-1, originally conceived to function for five years, has far surpassed its design lifetime and is in its 18th year of operation.


Launched in December 2007, RADARSAT-2 is Canada's next-generation commercial radar satellite. It offers powerful technical advancements that enhance marine surveillance, ice monitoring, disaster management, environmental monitoring, resource management and mapping in Canada and around the world.

RADARSAT Constellation Mission

Through the cutting edge RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) the Government is ensuring Canada continues to have the tools necessary to assert its sovereignty, monitor and manage its resources, and keep watch over its vast territory and coastal areas.

RCM will provide complete coverage of Canada's vast land mass, oceans and coastal approaches at least once per day and up to four times daily in the high Arctic, under any weather conditions. It will provide continuity and enhanced functionalities to the users of the RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2.


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