Components and specifications

RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) consists of the following segments:

Space Segment

The RCM Space Segment will consist of a constellation of three identical satellites flying in a low-earth orbit (altitude from 586 km to 615 km above the Earth). Each of the Spacecraft in the constellation will consist of a Bus and a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload. There is also an Automated Identification System for ships (AIS) secondary payload that will be used independently or in conjunction with the SAR. The SAR payload will perform all imaging operations, store, encrypt and transmit the radar data. The AIS payload will receive ships' messages in a wide swath larger than the accessible swath of the SAR. The Bus module will provide attitude and orbit control, power generation and storage, payload commands, telemetry, thermal control and the primary support structure.

- The Making of a Satellite – The RADARSAT Constellation. (Credits: MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., Canadian Space Agency)

Space Segment

Text version of image RCM space segment

Credit: Canadian Space Agency

Main Space Segment Parameters

# of satellites 3 equally-spaced in a dawn-dusk plane
Bus Canadian SmallSat Bus
Total Mass 1400 kg
Antenna 9.45 m2
Power < 1600 W (peak); < 220 W (average)
Orbit 586-615 km sun-synchronous maintained within a 100 m radius orbital tube
Polarisation Single Pol / Dual co-cross selectable pol & Compact polarimetry available on all modes; dual HH-VV available for specific modes; One quad-polarisation mode
Imaging Time (out-of-eclipse) 15 minutes/orbit average  (peak 25 minutes/orbit every 3 orbits)
12.5 minutes continuous imaging
Lifetime 7 years (each satellite)

Ground Segment

The RADARSAT Constellation will require ground stations with vast coverage over Canadian maritime zones of interest in order to provide data within ten to thirty minutes of acquisition. The ground segment is required to perform the following tasks: commanding and monitoring the satellites for navigation and imaging; receiving satellite telemetry; receiving data from the satellites' payloads; and managing the data for users.

The RCM ground segment is based on existing infrastructure, using the national Gatineau, Prince Albert, and Inuvik stations for data reception and Telemetry Tracking & Command. It will be harmonized for data reception with the upgraded Polar Epsilon coastal stations in order to support near-real time maritime surveillance. It will also include a fast tasking capability allowing access to the satellites on every orbit, likely achieved through international partnerships.

The following figure illustrates the national ground station locations and their coverage areas.

RADARSAT Constellation ground stations

Text version of image RCM ground segment

Credit: Canadian Space Agency

Launch Segment

The three spacecrafts will be put into orbit in 2018, using a single launcher configuration.

Operations Segment

The mission planning and spacecraft control functions will be located at the John H. Chapman Space Centre (Canadian Space Agency headquarters) in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.

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