Monday, June 09, 2014

Another Canadian Satellite Moved off a Russian Launcher?

          by Sarah Ansari-Manea and Chuck Black

The Indian PSLV. Photo c/o Wikipedia.
A Norwegian funded satellite, constructed by the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) and originally scheduled for launch aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket along with the Canadian Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Micro-Satellite (M3MSat), seems to have found a new home as a subsidiary payload aboard an Indian rocket.

Maybe... Or maybe not...

As outlined in the September 27th, 2013 SpaceFlight Now article "Latest Soyuz/ Fregat Delay Underscores Issue for Small-satellite Owners," the anticipated June 28th, 2014 Soyuz launch of the Meteor M2 weather satellite was expected to also include a number of secondary payloads including the SkySat 2 spacecraft from Skybox Imaging, the TechDemoSat 1 spacecraft for the UK government plus several smaller payloads including the UTIAS-SFL built and Norwegian funded AISSAT-2 along with the Canadian M3Msat.

But, as outlined in the April 24th, 2014 post "M3Msat and the Politics of Dancing in the Crimea," those plans were essentially derailed with an announcement that the Federal government "has decided not to proceed" with the planned June 2014 launch.

And while the June 1st, 2014 update to the Spaceflight Now listing of Worldwide Launch Schedules, still listed the SkySat 2, TechDemoSat 1 and "other small passengers" on the Russian launcher manifest, an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) , which is scheduled to launch the Spot 7 remote sensing satellite for Astrium Services and at least two other Canadian built satellites sometime in June 2014, might now end up being the new launch provider for AISSAT-2.

At least that seems to be a reasonable analysis of Gunthers Space Page, which is currently the "publication of record" for amateurs in this area. As outlined on their AISAT webpage, as similar satellite is currently expected to launch in June 2014 aboard an PSLV C-23 mission , along with the SPOT 7 satellite, the UTIAS-SFL built CANX-4 and CANX-5 satellites and the Indonesian Inter-University Nano-Satellite for Research and Education (LINUSAT).

Of course, its always possible that the AISSAT (with two "S's") mentioned in Gunthers Space page is a second AISAT (but with only one "S"), designed and built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). No one is making public statements in this area so there is a certain amount of reasonable confusion on this issue.

It's even possible that the second AISSAT (with two "S's") is still scheduled for launch on June 28th aboard a Russian launcher.

The UTIAS-SFL is recognized internationally for its low cost, high performance missions, and the ability to successfully exploit the latest commercial technologies in space. They operate multiple satellites from their mission control center, including MOST (Canada’s first space telescope), CanX-2 (Canada’s smallest operational satellite), the Nanosatellite Tracking of Ships (NTS) spacecraft (developed in conjunction with Cambridge, Ontario based COM DEV International) and the BRITE constellation (which proved to the world that inexpensive and small satellites can do great things).

Their mission statement on the SFL website states: “The Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) mission is to lower the entry barrier to space for companies, research institutions, government, and end users in order to enable more productive use of space for the next generation. SFL believes in offering the lowest cost possible to achieve objectives in space while adhering to approaches known to result in high quality and high reliability...”

The launch date for CanX-4, CanX-5 and (maybe) the AISAT-2 aboard the PSLV rocket is so far unknown, but presumed to be sometime this month.

Sarah Ansari-Manea.
Canada, and especially the UTIAS-SFL, is continuing to prove its dominance and expertise in the satellite and nano-satellite industry, showing the world that inexpensive and smaller scale satellites can be just as beneficial tools as their larger counterparts.

Here's hoping that the amateurs tracking the space industry have called this specific satellite launch correctly. Canadian satellites must keep flying.

Sarah Ansari-Manea is an aspiring astrophysicist, currently completing a specialist in physics and astronomy at the University of Toronto.


  1. I believe you may have confused AISAT( with AISSAT (

  2. You may have a point. The article has been revised to reflect this confusion.

    According to the site you referenced at, the Canadian built but Norwegian funded AISAT-2 is still scheduled for launch aboard the Soyuz-2-1b Fregat-M.

    Certainly clarification is required at this point.

  3. But there is no Canadian built Norwegian funded satellite called "AISAT-2". That satellite is called AISSat-2.

  4. OK. But doesn't that mean that the Canadian built but Norwegian funded AISSAT-2 is still scheduled for launch on a Russian Soyuz-2-1b Fregat-M rocket in June 28th?

  5. Has either SFL or the Norwegian customer been contacted, to ask for clarification? That would sem to be the normal thing for a reporter to do...

  6. SFL has been contacted but so far has refused to respond publicly (to my queries, at least).

    As you can see from the June 21st, 2014 post "Two More Canadian Satellites Launched on Russian Rocket: Another Scheduled" at, the story has progressed slightly since this earlier article was written.


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