Indian rocket carries Canada's first military satellite into space
Published Monday, February 25, 2013 7:49AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 25, 2013 8:47AM EST
Canada's first military satellite is headed into orbit alongside six other satellites that were all launched aboard a single Indian rocket Monday morning.
The ‘Sapphire’ will increase Canada’s ability to protect its "assets and interests" in space and track man-made objects in orbit to avoid collisions, according to the Department of Defence.
A second Canadian satellite will help scientists keep track of meteors, asteroids and other space debris that could be heading towards earth.
The NEOSSat (Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite) will also track space debris in orbit, to better understand their movements.
The NEOSSat and the Sapphire are among seven satellites that were put into orbit aboard a single rocket scheduled to launch from the southern Andhra Pradesh state in India Monday morning.
Also launched was a French-built satellite that will study the world’s oceans, along with two satellites from Austria, which were developed in Canada, and one each from Denmark and Britain.
The Globe and Mail science reporter Ivan Semeniuk said this is the first time that so much Canadian hardware was launched aboard a single rocket.
"The French-Indian satellite is the main payload, but it’s often the case with these launches that there’s enough room for a few other small passengers," Semeniuk told CTV’s Canada AM on Monday.
He described Sapphire as being the size of a dishwasher while NEOSSat is comparable to the size of a suitcase.
"It's amazing is how small the technology is getting," he said.
Semeniuk said that NEOSSat will specifically monitor meteors and asteroids that orbit closer to the sun and are typically more difficult to see from the ground.
If the Canadian-made satellite was launched earlier this year, Semeniuk said it may have been able to detect the meteor that recently exploded in the skies above Russia's Urals region.
Though he added that the bigger threat in space is pieces of debris colliding with working satellites.
Semeniuk said Canada is becoming a leader in development of smaller satellites as another two Canadian-made satellites are expected to be launched in about a year.
"There are some terrific engineers in Canada that have worked on these satellites, and we need to celebrate it."