Satnews Daily
December 31st, -0001

MDA... Sapphire Supervision (SATCOM)

[SatNews] Monitoring space objects around the clock, day in and day out, requires constant maintenance and management...

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (TSX: MDA) has received a contract worth $11.7 million (CAD) from Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) to operate and maintain the Sapphire System for five years following system commissioning. Developed, built and operated by MDA, the Sapphire System is an information solution that will routinely monitor thousands of space objects 24/7 and provide data on several hundred objects of interest every day within hours of observation. Space Situational Awareness is becoming an increasingly important factor for Canada. For example, early warning of potential collisions can provide satellite operators opportunity to perform collision-avoidance maneuvers when necessary.

The Sapphire System will be the largest part of the Canadian Space Surveillance System and will become the newest space-based sensor of the Space Surveillance Network (SSN), following its launch in late 2011. MDA’s responsibilities include relaying assigned taskings from DND to the satellite, processing the collected information, and sending the data to the Sensor System Operations Centre (SSOC) operated by DND at the 22 Wing in North Bay, Ontario. Upon receipt of the processed data, the SSOC will correlate, identify, archive and transmit the information to the United States’ Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC). The U.S. JSpOC provides space situational awareness information to at least 134 countries through the SSN consisting of a network of approximately 25 ground and space-based sensors around the world.