Soyuz-FG launches with Canada’s RADARSAT-2

by Chris Bergin

A Soyuz 2.1b-FG launch vehicle with Fregat upper stage has launched with the RADARSAT-2 satellite – Canada’s next-generation commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite. Launch was successful at 13:17 GMT from Baikonur cosmodrome. covered the launch as a live event, with background, live updates, images and a free launch video, available on the links below (read more).

L2 Resources: All the Soyuz Launch Vehicle Manuals and Payload Planner’s Guides, plus more.


**FREE Soyuz-FG/RADARSAT-2 Launch Video** – Free to all forum members (registration is free – we do not use your e-mail for spam, only to send you your forum password – which is automated.


This will be the 20th commercial Soyuz mission managed by launch provider Starsem, and is the follow-on to Canada’s highly successful RADARSAT-1 platform, which was launched in 1995.
The workhorse Soyuz is a member of Arianespace’s growing family of commercial launch vehicles.  This medium-lift launcher will be joining Ariane 5 in operations from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana beginning in 2009. (See L2 for photographs of the new launch pad being built).
The RADARSAT-2 spacecraft was developed in a unique government/industry collaboration involving the Canadian Space Agency and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA).  MDA is to operate the satellite and ground segment, while the Canadian Space Agency contributed funds for RADARSAT-2’s construction and launch.

RADARSAT-2 incorporates technical advancements that include 3-meter high-resolution imaging, flexibility in selection of its scanning polarization, left and right-looking imaging options, superior data storage and more precise measurements of spacecraft position and attitude.

The SAR Payload includes the SAR antenna and associated sensor electronics required for imaging. EMS Canada (now MDA Montreal) was the SAR Payload subcontractor.

Operating in C-band, the RADARSAT-2 SAR Payload ensures continuity of all existing RADARSAT-1 modes, and offers an extensive range of additional features ranging from improvement in resolution to full flexibility in the selection of polarization options.

The enhanced capabilities are provided by a significant improvement in instrument design, employing a state-of-the-art phased array antenna composed of an array of hundreds of miniature transmit-receive modules. Fully computer-controlled, the antenna is capable of being steered electronically over the full range of the swath and can switch between operating modes virtually instantaneously.

RADARSAT-2 will be placed in a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of approximately 800 kilometers. A stabilization stage will start automatically once the spacecraft separates from the launch vehicle. Spacecraft initialization consists of switching on sensors: Global Positioning System, Magnetometer, Gyro and Sun Sensor.

At launcher release, the spacecraft will autonomously recognize its angular rate, damp it and acquire controlled attitude. Upon success of de-spin and first sun acquisition, RADARSAT-2 will start to acquire a coarse stable three-axes attitude. This process should take two or three orbits.
The design lifespan of RADARSAT-2 is 7 years, but could be extended, as demonstrated by RADARSAT-1 – which had a design lifespan of 5 years, but is still fully operational after 11 years.

Full mission background is available on the live event page – linked above.

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