SpaceX launches 3 Canadian radar satellites to survey the North

SpaceX Falcon 9 boosters make successful landing at Vandenberg Air Force base
WATCH: SpaceX Falcon 9 lands successfully at California landing pad

Three Canadian satellites were successfully launched into orbit on Wednesday morning to kick off a mission to survey Canada’s North.

The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:17 a.m. Wednesday. A few minutes after takeoff, SpaceX confirmed in a tweet that the first stage landed successfully on a landing pad on the west coast, northwest of Los Angeles.

The trio of satellites was scheduled to be deployed just under an hour after liftoff.

Viewers can watch the launch of the satellites in the player above.

READ MORE: Next generation of Radarsat satellites to ‘cover 90% of the globe’

The satellites are part of the Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM), developed by the Canadian Space Agency. They are designed to bounce signals off the Earth’s surface to create images.

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This particular mission will map Canada’s sea ice in the Arctic and the Great Lakes to help support commercial ship navigation and monitor environmental changes to help farmers maximize crop harvests.

The RCM will also collect images of areas affected by disasters, such as flooding or severe storms, to help the Canadian government “organize emergency response efforts and protect the local population.” It can also check Canadian waters for coastal pollution and monitor oil spills.

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B.C. tech company MDA watches 15 years of work shot into space
B.C. tech company MDA watches 15 years of work shot into space

California-based SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, says the satellites will have access to “any point of 90 per cent of the world’s surface” and will visit the Arctic up to four times a day.

The trio is the Canadian Space Agency’s newest generation of radar imaging satellite systems and is capable of transmitting more data than previous fleets. They are expected to orbit the earth at an altitude of about 600 kilometres.

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The original Radarsat-1 launched in 1995 and was designed for a lifespan of five years but lasted 17. The Radarsat-2 launched in 2007 and has long outlasted its seven-year lifespan.

The latest fleet was initially supposed to launch separately in 2014. The satellites were built by MDA, a Maxar company based in B.C., on Montreal’s West Island.

With files from the Canadian Press

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