A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket fires a dense shroud of the coastal fog and climbs orbit Wednesday from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, expanding a trio of radar observation satellites to start a $ 900 million mission surveys of Arctic, maritime water, forest and farmland for the Canadian government.
The Radarsat Constellation Mission, composed of three identical Earth-observing satellites, is headed by the Canadian Space Agency, and is one of the most expensive missions in the history of the country space program.
Three Radarsat satellites were taken from the Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg at 7:17:10 am PDT (10:17:10 am EDT; 1417: 10 GMT). Shortly afterwards, Falcon 9 appeared from a thick fog blanket as seen from a distant mountaintop tracking camera that provides live rocket climbing views.
Nine gasoline servicing Merlin's main engines ran a sky rocket with 1.7 million pounds of thrust. But looking at the opportunities for spectators, photographers and VIPs gathered at Vandenberg for the launch was prevented by the fog layer hanging on the spaceport on the Central Coast of California.
After moving south to the Pacific Ocean, the Falcon 9 first stage rocket into the upper atmosphere, then shut down for about 2 minutes, 13 seconds, on the mission. The booster separates and revives a subset of its engines to reverse the course and return to Vandenberg.
The 15-story first-stage follower touches Landing Zone 4, four-mile (400 meters) from its launch pad, around eight minutes after the rise. It was the 41st time that SpaceX had successfully reached one of its rocket boosters, and the second rocket returned to Vandenberg.
The first stage launched on Wednesday had previously landed a mission from Florida on March 2 until the loft SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule first unpiloted flight test at the International Space Station.
Meanwhile, the second installment of Falcon 9 continues to detonate a single Merlin engine until eight-and-a-half minutes into the mission. The upper stage stops, aligned with Antarctica and the Indian Ocean, then the Merlin engine once again resumes it to place the Radarsat satellite into an almost circular orbit that passes 97.8 degrees towards the equator.
A specially designed dispenser made by Ruag Space in Sweden focuses on a unique tilt mechanism to place Radarsat satellite for separation from the launcher. The spacecraft, each weighing 3,150 pounds (1,430 kilograms), placed from the rocket one-and-a-time.
A rocket-on-board camera showed satellite floating in space, and the last spacecraft separated from Falcon 9 at 8:19 am PDT (11:19 am EDT; 1519 GMT).
US Military monitoring data indicates that satellites fly at an altitude between 361 and 373 miles (581 and 601 kilometers), and Canadian officials say that the earth teams have received of initial status signals from all three radars and spacecraft, proving their health after the successful launch of Wednesday.  The satellites will extend their flat panel radar antennas, each with an area of 100 square feet (9.5 square meters), within the first two days of the mission, according to MDA, the main contractor for Radarsat Constellation Mission. The radar operates for the first time 10 or 11 days after the launch, MDA officials said, to start functional checks and take the first test images.
The entire commissioning commission and calibration commission will last three to six months, then The Canadian Space Agency will be announcing the operation of the RCM satellite and ready for regular observations, officials said.
More than 125 Canadian companies from seven provinces have helped develop and develop three new Radar satellites. The new Canada fleet of Earth-observing spacecraft followed Radarsat 1 and Radarsat 2 – launched in 1995 and 2007 – and is designed to continue operating the country's flagship satellite system by at least 2026.
"This is extremely important for Canada, "said Mike Greenley, MDA group president, at a pre-launch interview at Spaceflight Now.
The RCM project is worth the Canadian government of approximately $ 900 million (1.2 billion Canadian dollars), including the development of satellites, launches, and seven years of planned operations, according to Steve Iris , the mission manager of RSM at the Canadian Space Agency.
That makes RCM one of Canada's most expensive mission-led space in history, and one of the most expensive payloads ever launched by SpaceX.
Each RCM satellite carries a C-band radar instrument, with a deployable array of antennas, transmitters and receivers.
Unlike an optical camera, the radar is visible in clouds of clouds to make observations day and night. The radar instruments emit signals and measure the waves seen on Earth, which provide information on structures, ships, forest, ice, and crops.
"Earth observation is critical, and radar based on Earth observation gives Canada the ability to deal with Canada's sovereignty and security," Greenley says.
A dozen Canadian government agencies, including the military, use Radarsat data. Extensive use is expected to continue with RCM.
"In addition to our resource-based economy that requires tracking our forests, mining, energy, and agricultural industries, our northern latitude sensitive to climate change can get from on space-based radar systems that can observe Earth day and night in any weather conditions, "says Magdalena Wierus, a project management engineer at the Radarsat Constellation Mission at the Canadian Space Agency.
Canada's longest coastline is found in remote regions of the Arctic, from terrestrial observation observations.
"We have a large part of the northern part of Canada with a low population, and there is not much infrastructure there to monitor, and where there is the most impact from climate change, especially in permafrost," says Iris. at a pre-launch press conference. "So in the mission of the constellation, we will be able to monitor that region every day, and monitor mild changes such as earth deformation due to permafrost melting. We can do that four times a day, which is a huge advantage over what we are doing now. "
When observing the spotlight mode, each of the three RCM satellites has the best resolution of 1 meter (3.3 feet) in azimuth, and 3 meters (9.8 ft) in the row. Similar to the imaging power of Radarsat 2.
But with three satellites, the RCM may span more territory.
"It is a three-satellite mission, each orbiting the Earth, equally spaced, every 96 minutes at an altitude of approximately 600 kilometers (373 miles)," says Wierus. "One of the major constellations of the constellation is that they make sure that they are revising exactly one point on Earth every four days, compared to Radarsat 2, with an exact revision of every 24 days.  "Now, why is this important? This is because we can use these images to measure changes in earth motion, for example, that will help us understand what's happening on Earth more efficiently, "he says." The RCM is capable of upgrading, image of any given location at 90 percent of the Earth's surface daily, but it is Canada's main imaging territory. "
With seafarers' surveillance and environmental monitoring, RCM satellites will track the movement of icebergs and the erosion and development of glaciers and ice. Satellite observations will also monitor the natural such as floods, and discover water pollution.
"The main demand of government users is the daily coverage of Canada's paths and maritime approaches, including Arctic images of four times. "Wireus said." RCM covers all regions of Canada for 24 hours, which is not possible at Radarsat 2. "
Wierus said the Canadian Space Agency examined the way to distribute data collected by the Radarsat Constellation Mission outside the Canadian government, allowing international scientists, corporations and the public to access the RCM imagery.
In addition to radar imaging sensors, each RCM the spacecraft hosts a radio receiver to collect identification messages sent by maritime vessels. These radar images can help to identify ships that may have problems, or shipwrecked do not want to be found, "Wierus said.
According to Greenley, MDA supports the Canadian government in developing an open access policy data for RCM. Radarsat 2, still operating, is a commercial satellite partially funded by the Canadian government, with additional private sector investment from MDA, now part of Maxar.
MDA owns Radarsat 2, while the Canadian government owns RCM satellites The Canadian government says it is expecting to use approximately 250,000 RCM images each year, more than government needs for imagery from previous Radarsat missions.
Wednesday's launch is the seventh SpaceX space of the year, and the second company from Vandenberg in 2019. Spaces in SpaceX on Florida's Space Coast are preparing a triple-core Falcon Heavy rocket for the next company launch , scheduled no earlier than June 24 at 11:30 pm EDT (0330 GMT on June 25).
The Falcon Powerful will be removed from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
Another Falcon 9 launch from the neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is scheduled no earlier than July 21 next SpaceX's Dragon's misupply station space
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