Radar/Satellite

Domestic space launches planned

The federal government hopes to have domestic commercial space launch facilities within the next three years. “For many years, Canadian satellites have launched from sites in other countries,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra explained January 20, adding that the government would begin developing the regulatory requirements, safety standards and licensing conditions. He also said the government is ready to approve private-sector launches in the interim on a case-by-case basis. [node:read-more:link]

NORAD upgrade a huge challenge

Since Canada announced its plan last June to spend $4.9 billion over six years to modernize North American defences, it has become clear that there are significant technical obstacles to overcome. Improved satellite coverage, over-the-horizon radar and deployment of undersea sensors and surveillance in the Arctic are among them and while Vice-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie, head of Canadian Joint Operations Command, says Canada has “decent domain awareness right now”, it continues to work with the U.S. on key elements of the NORAD upgrade. [node:read-more:link]

Russia’s Arctic buildup continues

New satellite imagery from Colorado-based Maxar Technologies shows that despite the financial impact of its war on Ukraine, Russia continues to expand its Arctic footprint with upgraded radar and other facilities. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the “significant” build-up” has required the alliance to “double” its presence in the region. [node:read-more:link]

Satellite imagery firm being sold

Colorado-based Maxar Technologies, a publicly-traded company which supplies satellite imagery to U.S. national security agencies, has announced a $6.4-billion takeover by Advent International, a Boston private equity firm. Both sides say the takeover would benefit Maxar in the long term but a previous acquisition, of the British aerospace company Cobham in 2020 eventually saw it sold off in pieces within 18 months. [node:read-more:link]

Russia consolidating in Mariupol

New satellite imagery shows that as Ukrainian counteroffensives in the south and east put pressure on Russian forces in the port city of Mariupol, they are building up defences in the strategically important part of the “land bridge” between Russia to annexed Crimea. Among other things, they have built a large army compound near the centre of the port city, much of which they destroyed in a siege in the first three months of their invasion. [node:read-more:link]

New Canadian space commander outlines priorities

Brigadier General Mike Adamson, commander of 3 Canadian Space Division, says replacing Canada’s space tracking satellite is “the most important” priority for the new organization which was stood up in July. He says it would emphasize that space is central to “everything that we do” and would align Canada with its allies. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. sending milsat tech to Ukraine

Four military satellite communications antennas which can work without Starlink are being sent by the U.S. to Ukraine to support its forces’ tactical responses to Russia’s invaders. Taken out of Defense Department stock, they are part of a $275-million aid package announced October 24. [node:read-more:link]

Musk reverses course on Starlink

Shortly after complaining about the costs of providing Starlink satellite services to Ukraine, where they have become a key tactical tool in the counter offense against Russia, Space X entrepreneur Elon Musk has withdrawn a call on the U.S. Department of Defense to cover the costs. “The hell with it,” he said in a weekend social media post. “Even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we'll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.” [node:read-more:link]

Ukranian military comms at risk

Some 20,000 Starlink satellite terminals donated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company have become a key communications link for the Ukrainian military’s counteroffensive against Russia, but could be in jeopardy. Musk said today that it has cost US$80 million so far to provide services through the terminals and with the Ukranian military requesting 8,000 more, the U.S. Department of Defence should consider covering the ongoing costs. [node:read-more:link]

Europe looking for new satellite launcher

Having lost access to Russia’s space launch facilities in neighbouring Kazakhstan, the European Space Agency has begun discussions with SpaceX and potentially other service providers. about using their facilities. “There are two and a half options that we're discussing,” ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher has confirmed. The other prospects include Japan and India but he considers the U.S. company “more operational.” [node:read-more:link]

Satellite imagery belies Russia’s claim

Russia has denied extensive damage at an airbase in Crimea August 9 but comparative satellite imagery provided by California-based Planet Labs shows infrastructure damage and destroyed aircraft. It is believed to have been caused by Ukrainian forces but so far Kyiv has not claimed responsibility. [node:read-more:link]

New Arctic radars to be southern based

A new North American radar defence network evidently will be built in Southern Canada at a cost of at least $1 billion with a view to being operational by 2028. The defence industry was briefed on the project earlier this month by the RCAF, which said the installations would “provide long-range surveillance of northern approaches to the major population centers in North America by establishing a northward-aimed high frequency over-the-horizon radar system in southern Canada.” [node:read-more:link]

New commsats destroyed

Dozens of SpaceX communications satellites were knocked out of orbit by a solar geomagnetic storm a day after being launched Feb. 3. The company said “each satellite achieved controlled flight” before the storm hit at least 40 of them. [node:read-more:link]

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