Richmond-firm Wins Contract For Next Gen Weather Satellites

Richmond-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates was awarded a $40 millon contract today from the Canadian Space Agency to design and build the Radarsat Constellation Mission. The set of three Constellation satellites will provide, for the first time, continuous complete weather coverage for all of Canada, and will have a resolution of 3m, able to spot small fishing vessels. They will replace the current Radarsat-2 satellite, launched in December 2007, that MDA also built.

This comes after a government intervention last spring to block a $1.3 billion sale of MDA’s satellite and robotics division to a US defence contractor.

The proposed $1.3-billion sale sparked national outrage over the loss of taxpayer-funded technology, especially Radarsat-2, which is designed to protect Canada’s sovereignty.

Prentice blocked the sale in April after determining the deal was not “of net benefit to Canada.”

Radarsat-2, launched in December of 2007, became an issue not only because of its importance to sovereignty, but also because under the previous contract, MDA — and not the Canadian government — actually owned the satellite.

This was the first time in 33 years that an industry minister blocked a foreign takeover. Under this new contract, which has been 2 years in the making, the Canadian government will own the new satellites.