Leveraging legendary RADARSAT, MDA releases first details of its next generation commercial Earth observation mission

Covering a 700 km swath from a mid-inclination orbit, the new broad area satellite system will provide the most extensive coverage on the market, changing how, when and what can be seen
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BRAMPTON, ON, Sept. 29, 2021 – MDA, Canada’s largest space company, released new details about its next industry leading Earth observation (EO) mission. Leveraging legendary RADARSAT heritage, the new system will include a large C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite operating in a mid-inclination orbit. Capable of covering a 700 km swath in a single pass, the new system will provide the broadest area coverage on the market, changing how, when and what can be seen.

“For decades, governments, commercial and institutional customers worldwide have counted on MDA’s Earth observation data to tackle some of the world’s biggest issues including national sovereignty and maritime border protection, illegal fishing, natural disasters and the effects of climate change. Leveraging the latest innovation and scientific advancements to provide a new level of real-time and actionable insight, our 4th generation Earth observation satellite will once again change how and when we see our planet.”

Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer, MDA

For more than 25 years, MDA has been providing SAR data and imagery to government, commercial and institutional clients globally. That data and imagery is used to support some of the world’s most critical applications including maritime surveillance; environmental and climate change monitoring; sovereignty protection; mining, oil & gas and other critical infrastructure monitoring; forestry management; agriculture and smart farming; and disaster preparation and response, among others.

Maintaining primary imaging modes from RADARSAT-2 but with a 40% larger imaging swath width, the new mission will deliver data and image continuity to MDA customers with faster and new imaging capabilities.

The fully taskable system will operate in a unique mid-inclination orbit, targeting areas of greatest customer interest. With 75% faster tasking, increasing revisit and reducing delivery time, the system will also offer Near Real Time service with best in class download times direct to commercial customers in 15 minutes in targeted areas.

The inclined orbital path provides variable versus static imaging time, enabling the system to capture a greater diversity of images at different times each day. The new satellite will also offer enhanced client-controlled priority tasking, guaranteeing image collection when needed.

Capable of covering a 700 km swath at 50m resolution with an ability to image in left and right looking modes, the new system will be able to cover very large geographic areas quickly and cost effectively. As an example, the entire New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), one of the largest in the world, will be able to be fully imaged in less than 24 hours.

The system is also ideal for very large area monitoring applications such as oil spill detection, and includes three dedicated vessel detection modes, three Stripmap Modes (8m, 5m and 3m), and a Spotlight mode.

The new system lowers the barrier for commercial customers to access analytics-ready SAR data through cloud-based infrastructure with affordable subscription-based services requiring no up-front capital investment. With easy upgrades, large government and institutional users with specific requirements can continue to utilize their existing ground systems to take advantage of enhanced performance.

With over 2,000 employees across Canada, the US and the UK, MDA says it is leading the charge towards viable Moon colonies, enhanced Earth observation, communication in a hyper-connected world, and more.

The program is currently in the design and development phase. Next level details including the launch date and full industrial team will be announced in the coming months.

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