MDA is developing a space mission around a new generation of smaller cost-effective satellites. CASSIOPE is a multifunctional mission designed to serve both a scientific and a commercial purpose.
Scheduled for launch in 2007, this small satellite mission will feature the first in a new generation of multi-purpose satellite platforms that will be adaptable for use in a variety of future Canadian space missions.
MDA is the prime contractor for the space and ground infrastructure for the CASSIOPE Mission including system engineering, design, assembly, integration, testing, launch and operation of the spacecraft.
The mission is being developed with the support of the CSA and Technology Partnerships Canada and the world-class capabilities of a Canadian industrial team. MDA’s involvement in CASSIOPE strengthens the company position as a small satellite mission supplier in Canada and abroad.
The technologies and processes developed through the CASSIOPE mission will assist in placing Canadian companies at the forefront of small satellite technology.
The Cassiope Mission will carry the experimental Cascade payload to demonstrate the world’s first commercial space-based digital courier service. When proven, future operational missions will provide a large-scale data transfer service to remote commercial, civil and military clients anywhere in the world.
Similar to the operations of a traditional courier company, Cascade will pick-up a parcel at close of business day, and deliver it to geographically dispersed destinations before work starts the next day. The difference is that the service will utilize a small satellite and the packages will be very large digital data files. This groundbreaking "Courier-in-the-Sky" will support the transfer of digital data files 50 to 500 Gigabytes at a time, equivalent to 50 to 500 pickup trucks filled with paper.
Initially, one Low Earth Orbit satellite will orbit above the Earth at an altitude of 300 to 1,500 km once every 1.5 hours, providing multiple opportunities each day for the pick-up and delivery of data anywhere on Earth. As demand increases, capacity can be expanded by adding additional satellites.
Cascade is accessed through small turnkey terminals with built-in mass storage capacity and 1-2 metre antennas. The terminal communicates with the Cascade control centre to schedule pickup and confirm delivery. As the satellite comes overhead, the data is transmitted at 1.2 gigabits per second - 12 times faster than the operating speed of most office LANs. At that speed, the contents of a typical music CD would be transferred in a little over 4 seconds and a full length DVD movie in little more than a minute. This point-to-point delivery system ensures a high degree of security. Cassiope will operate in the higher frequency Ka-Band radio spectrum providing greater bandwidth.
Developed by a scientific team led by the University of Calgary, ePOP will be Canada’s first space environment sensor suite, providing Canadian scientists with the opportunity to understand the impact the variability of the Sun has on the space environment.
ePOP will carry a suite of eight scientific instruments, including plasma sensors, radio wave receivers, magnetometers, CCD cameras, and a beacon transmitter. The ePOP payload will lead to a comprehensive understanding of plasma processes in the polar ionosphere – a region in the upper atmosphere.
For more information see ePOP backgrounder.
CASSIOPE forms part of a rapidly developing small satellite capability at MDA, combining MDA’s strong engineering background and sound management practices to provide low-cost, high reliability access to space.
This emerging capability will further add to MDA’s space pedigree, which has seen the company develop the Canadarm for the US Space Shuttle, the Mobile Servicing System for the International Space Station and RADARSAT-2 - Canada’s next generation remote sensing satellite.