Sapphire (satellite)

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Mission type Space surveillance
Operator Department of National Defence
COSPAR ID 2013-009C
SATCAT no. 39088
Spacecraft properties
Bus SSTL-150
Manufacturer MDA Corporation (prime)
SSTL (bus)
COM DEV International (optical payload)
Launch mass 148 kilograms (326 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date 25 February 2013, 12:31 (2013-02-25UTC12:31Z) UTC[1]
Rocket PSLV-CA C20
Launch site Satish Dhawan FLP
Contractor ISRO
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 778 kilometres (483 mi)
Apogee 793 kilometres (493 mi)
Inclination 98.62 degrees
Period 100.43 minutes
Epoch 30 October 2013, 14:37:56 UTC[2]

Sapphire is a Canadian space surveillance satellite which was launched in 2013. Sapphire was constructed by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) based on an SSTL-150 bus produced by Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) and an optical payload produced by COM DEV International.


Sapphire, Canada's first military satellite, is a small spacecraft designed to monitor space debris and satellites within an orbit 3,728 to 24,855 miles (6,000 to 40,000 kilometres) above Earth. The satellite has been providing data to the United States Space Surveillance Network since January 2014.[3] The satellite has a mass of 148 kilograms (326 lb), and carries a three-mirror anastigmat to track artificial objects in medium Earth orbit to geosynchronous Earth orbit.[4] ISRO's Ball Lock separation system IBL-298 was used for separating the satellite.[5]

The optical system is based on the design of the Space-Based Visible (SBV) sensor. This telescope was developed for the Midcourse Space Experiment. The CCD used is a CCD47-20bi CCD sensor.[6]

Following completion of its operational testing and certification, Sapphire began its five-year operational mission November 13, 2013.[7]


Sapphire was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), using a PSLV-CA rocket, flight C20. The launch occurred at 12:31 on 25 February 2013, from the First Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Sapphire was a secondary payload on the rocket, the primary payload being the SARAL oceanography satellite. NEOSSat, UniBRITE-1, TUGSAT-1, AAUSAT3 and STRaND-1 were also launched aboard the same rocket.[4][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clark, Stephen (25 February 2013). "Ocean monitor, smartphone satellite launched from India". Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Peat, Chris (30 October 2013). "SAPPHIRE - Orbit". Heavens Above. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Canada's DND Sapphire satellite completes commissioning". MDA. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Krebs, Gunter. "Sapphire". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "PSLV-C20/SARAL Mission" (PDF). Indian Space Research Organisation. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "Sapphire: A Small Satellite System for the Surveillance of Space". Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Roberge, Justin (June 2015). "Charlie Flight Celebrates Sapphire’s Anniversary in Style" (PDF). The Shield ~ Le Bouclier (Volume 49, Issue 6). 22 Wing North Bay. p. 3. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "PSLV-C20 puts SARAL, 6 other satellites in precise orbits". The Hindu. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013.