New Pointing Procedures for RADARSAT-1

Saint-Hubert, December 18, 2002 – The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) temporarily discontinued RADARSAT-1 imaging operations on November 27 due to a deteriorating Attitude Control System that affects the satellite’s ability to deliver precise imaging to global clients. The CSA expects to resume routine satellite imaging operations in the last week of December.

RADARSAT-1 uses a pitch momentum wheel to maintain gyroscopic stiffness, ensuring the three-axis attitude control required for precise pointing of the spacecraft. In September 1999 the primary pitch momentum wheel started suffering from excessive friction and temperature, and as a result, control was shifted to a back-up wheel. This back-up pitch momentum wheel recently developed similar problems and was taken off-line on November 27, leaving the satellite in a safe and controlled tumble.

“The CSA’s Satellite Operations Directorate is aggressively pursuing the development and implementation of new procedures that will allow the satellite to maintain nominal pointing without extended reliance on the pitch momentum wheels,” said Surendra Parashar, Director of Satellite Operations at the CSA. “We are confident to re-establish pointing control and resume Earth observation operations by the end of December.”

In the meantime, the Canadian Space Agency and RADARSAT International (RSI), RADARSAT-1’s commercial data distributor, are keeping the satellite’s users well informed and are working together to ensure minimum impact on their operations.

During the interruption, the CSA is working with the European Space Agency, which has been very supportive by providing Synthetic Aperture Radar data via the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing to CSA’s key clients such as RSI and the Canadian Ice Services.

About the CSA Established in 1989 with its headquarters situated in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, the Canadian Space Agency coordinates all aspects of the Canadian Space Program. Through its Space Knowledge, Applications and Industry Development business line, the CSA delivers services involving: Earth and the Environment; Space Science; Human Presence in Space; Satellite Communications; Space Technology; Space Qualification Services; Space Awareness and Education. The Canadian Space Agency is at the forefront of the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.