SpaceX has successfully launched the RADARSAT Constellation for the Canadian Space Agency aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. The constellation is comprised of three Earth observation satellites that will enable maritime surveillance, disaster management, and ecosystem and climate change monitoring.
The Falcon 9 carrying the trio of Canadian Earth observation satellites blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 14:17 UTC on June 12. The first stage booster utilised for the launch (B1051) was flight proven and had previously been used to launch the SpaceX Crew Dragon demonstration mission in March. Following a successful first stage separation, B1051 was recovered a second time touching down safely at LZ-4 just 300 meters from its launchpad.
Approximately 30 seconds after the booster touched down, the rocket’s upper stage completed its first planned burn. Following a 42-minute coast phase, the upper stage completed a second burn before deploying the first RADARSAT satellite 54 minutes after liftoff. The second and third satellites were deployed successfully over three-minute intervals.
The three RADARSAT satellites launched today were developed by MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, a subsidiary of Maxar Technologies for the Canadian Space Agency. The satellites are the next-generation replacement for RADARSAT-2. The satellite was launched aboard a Soyuz FG in 2007 and has remained operational several years longer than its intended design life of just 7 years.
The RADARSAT Constellation mission was the sixth successful Falcon 9 flight of 2019 and the second from Vandenberg. It is also likely to be the last from the West Coast launch facility for 2019, with all other Falcon 9 missions scheduled for this year expected to lift off from either Cape Canaveral or the Kennedy Space Center.