Space agency eyes launch of two Arctic satellites

Pair of big birds could improve telecommunications


The Canadian Space Agency is looking at making a case for launching a proposed pair of satellites that could improve weather forecasting and telecommunications in the Arctic.

The Canadian Space Agency issued a request on Sept. 21 for proposals for a study of the impact the PCW satellite project would have on the northern economy and society.

“PCW’s high capacity communication services will close the gap over Canada’s high Arctic region where this service is now either unreliable or does not exist,” the RFP states.

“These new Canadian capabilities are particularly important because of increasing Arctic exploration, the requirement to protect Canada’s vast northern natural resources and for Canadian sovereignty in times of changing climate, political and economical conditions.”

The study, which would cost between $100,000 and $250,000 and take between six to eight months to complete, is to measure the benefits of improved satellite imaging and communications over the Arctic.

Officials from the Canadian Space Agency in Montreal declined to comment on the RFP before the contract is awarded.

The PCW is not just about bandwidth for northerners.

The project aims to satisfy a grab-bag of interests: defence surveillance needs, meteorology and the study of “space weather”.

The PCW project would consist of a pair of satellites orbiting over the poles at a cost of up to $600 million.

It hasn’t received final approval yet, but if it does, it could be in service by 2017.

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