Canada's first ever military satellite, along with six others, were launched into orbit Monday morning on an Indian rocket.
According to the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the island of Sriharikota, off India's east coast near Chennai, at 7:31 a.m. EST Monday (6:01 p.m. local time).
Canada's sending up two satellites up on Monday. So if you get a polite message asking if it's okay to spy on you, that's us.
— Rob Thomas (@RobotThomas) February 24, 2013
The Sapphire satellite is said to be a key element of the Canadian Space Surveillance System, and will be a contributing sensor to the U.S. Space Surveillance Network. It is designed to track space objects at orbital altitudes between 6,000 km (3,728 miles) and 40,000 km (24,855 miles), and provide data to the Canadian Department of National Defence. That data will also update the U.S. Satellite Catalogue used by NORAD for situational space awareness.
Also launched was the Canadian Space Agency's suitcase-sized NEOSsat satellite, which will search for asteroids and track satellites and space debris, and two bread-box sized BRITE satellites, developed as an international project funded by Austria but drawing heavily on Canadian technological expertise. Equipped with the world's smallest astronomical telescopes, they are designed to study the brightest stars in the sky.
In addition, satellites created by France, India, Denmark and the U.K. were launched on the Indian rocket, and they are expected to help test mobile phone electronics and study ocean circulation.
— Katrina(@Astro_yyz) February 25, 2013