Friday, November 09, 2012

RADARSAT Constellation Delayed Two Years

The Federal government has finally gotten around to letting slip the obvious.

Hélène LeBlanc.
The November 5th, 2012 Space News article "Canadian Radarsat Constellation Mission Delayed, Cost Rises by $400M" and the November 9th, 2012 Postmedia News article "Feds admit surveillance satellite project delayed two years" are both reporting that the estimated launch dates for the RADARSAT Constellation (RCM) series of the three Earth imaging satellites have been pushed back at least two years and that the overall costs for the program have risen dramatically.

According to the Postmedia article, an Industry Canada response to a question posed in the House of Commons last week by NDP MP Hélène LeBlanc, stated that thelaunch of the first (RCM) satellite is planned to occur in fiscal year 2016-2017, followed a year later by the other two satellites.” The Industry Canada document blames “unexpected difficulties during the critical design phase” for the delay.

But those "unexpected difficulties" were mostly about money.

In March  2012, RCM prime contractor MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) went so far as to issue a public press release (the March 30th, 2012 release titled "RADARSAT Constellation Mission update") which stated that the company "has concluded that the budget does not include the funds required to continue the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) as currently envisioned."

As outlined in various posts on this blog (most recently, the October 6th, 2012 post on "The Last Days of the Current CSA President"), things have gone downhill ever since.

But as recently as last month, the Federal government was insisting, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary (such as the October 5th, 2012 CBC News report below), that the first of the three RCM satellites would be launched in 2014.

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