Now it seem the Centre has stepped in to sort things out:
Stephen Harper steps in to save Radarsat upgrade after budget cutbacks threatened satellite program’s future
Three new Radarsat satellites would complete the surveillance coverage of Canada’s coasts, not only in the north but on our east and west coasts. Canadian Space Agency
The Harper government has approved funding for Canada’s world-beating [bit of boosterism there] surveillance satellite program, just as it seemed that it may become the victim of spending cutbacks.
Sources say the Prime Minister intervened personally to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding to move the next generation of Radarsat satellites off the drawing board and into production. A public announcement of the funding deal is expected soon.
Stephen Harper has lauded Radarsat — a series of satellites monitoring Canadian territory from space — in his annual visits to the Arctic, saying they can “pick up a breaching whale through the fog … so we will be able to see what the bad guys are up to.”
But the future of Radarsat was in doubt when the 2012 federal budget did not include new funding to cover the 50% increase in costs from the original price-tag of $600-million for the three new Constellation satellites [more here on the satellites].
Mr. Harper directed the departments that would make use of the program, including Natural Resources Canada, Environment, Fisheries and Oceans and National Defence, which came up with more than half of the required funds, to make up the shortfall.
Radarsat has been developed by Vancouver-based Macdonald Dettwiler & Associates (MDA [more here])…
…when there was no funding in the 2012 budget, the company warned that its teams of engineers and technicians would find other work. Analysts said that Canada was facing a space “brain drain,” as employees moved to the U.S. and Europe, in the face of government cuts. MDA laid off 100 people, while the country’s other main space firm, COM DEV, cut 31 staff. At the same time, the Canadian Space Agency had its budget cut by $60-million.
The Radarsat Constellation Mission — a series of three satellites and associated ground-based stations — was initially announced in 2005. The project was designed to replace the existing Radarsat-2 surveillance satellite.
The federal government has previously acknowledged its plan to begin the program in 2014 has been delayed by at least two years. The Department of National Defence had warned the satellites had to be in place by 2015 at the latest or Canada would be left without any space-based surveillance capability…
Here’s hoping. And see here for the CF’s related Polar Epsilon projects.
Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger
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