Canadian Manufacturing

Magellan Aerospace wins $110M deal to build trio of CSA spacecraft

Toronto firm will build three low earth orbit spacecraft as part of RADARSAT Constellation Mission

September 4, 2013  by Canadian Manufacturing Daily Staff

TORONTO—MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) has awarded Magellan Aerospace Corp. a $110-million contract to build three spacecraft buses for a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) mission.

According to Magellan, it was awarded the deal to build the three low earth orbit spacecraft as part of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM).

“Canada is one of the world’s first space-faring nations and national programs like RCM are critical for keeping our domestic space technology capabilities relevant as well as providing benefits for Canadians,” Magellan president and CEO James Butyniec said in a statement.

Magellan will manufacture the three spacecraft buses, including the control systems, on-board computers, power generation and distribution systems, electronics, wiring and on-board communication links with the ground.


The RCM bus is based on Magellan’s MAC-200 small satellite bus that was first developed for the CSA’s CASSIOPE program.

The MAC-200 design has been upgraded to accommodate the large, deployable C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) antenna and to increase the power subsystem capacity for the radar payload.

New GPS and propulsion subsystems have been added to support the precision orbit maintenance requirements. Upgrades have also been made to the bus avionics to support the seven-year mission lifetime.

RCM is a CSA mission that will provide 24-hour-a-day C-Band data to augment and extend the data that RADARSAT-2 users currently rely on.

The mission will support maritime surveillance—including ship detection, ice monitoring and oil spill detection—and disaster management and ecosystem monitoring.

The primary areas of coverage are Canada and its surrounding Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic maritime areas.

Since 2005, Magellan has been awarded the initial Phase A, B, and C Preliminary and detailed design contracts leading up to the current manufacturing phase (Phase D).

This phase, including the complete bus assembly, integration and testing , will be carried out at Magellan’s facility in Winnipeg where other CSA missions including CASSIOPE and SCISAT-1 were also manufactured.

The launch is planned in 2018.