Radarsat-1, launched in 1995, has already been operating for 12 years more than it expected five-year lifespan. It is equipped with a synthetic aperture radar, which allows the satellite to capture images of the Earth through clouds, smoke and haze. The data and images collected by Radarsat-1 have been used to track the effects of global climate change and for resource and disaster management by both government and commercial customers. CSA has halted all orders for new imagery, but continues to provide archived data.
The space agency assured that the problems with Radarsat-1 do not have an impact on the country’s security since its successor Radarsat-2, launched in 2007, is working properly. Unlike Radarsat-1, this satellite is not owned and operated by the Canadian government but by MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA). Through an agreement with the government, MDA received partial funding for Radarsat-2’s manufacturing and launch. In exchange the company provides data to the government as long as the satellite is functional.
CSA is currently working on a new generation of Radarsat satellites set for launch in 2018.