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Used SpaceX rocket launches three Earth imaging satellites into orbit

By Brooks Hays

June 12 (UPI) -- SpaceX used a previously launched rocket to carry a trio of Earth-observing satellites into space on Wednesday.

In March, a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket was used to launch the SpaceX Demo-1 mission, the first orbital test of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. On Wednesday, the reusable rocket blasted-off from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base with a payload featuring three Canadian Space Agency satellites.

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The so-called Radarsat Constellation Mission's three satellites will be used to image planet Earth in radio-wavelength light. The Radarsat program began in 1995. The program's inaugural satellite operated from 1995 through 2013. Radarsat-2 has been orbiting Earth since December 2007. The new satellites will form a Radarsat foursome. The three satellites will orbit Earth at an altitude of 370 miles.

According to a press release from SpaceX, the new C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar satellites will aid the Canadian government's maritime surveillance abilities, as well as its ecosystem and climate change monitoring efforts. The satellites' images will also prove useful to disaster relief efforts.

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"Built by MDA, a Maxar company, the three-satellite configuration of the RCM will provide daily revisits of Canada's vast territory and maritime approaches, including the Arctic up to 4 times a day, as well as daily access to any point of 90 percent of the world's surface," SpaceX wrote.

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Images collected by the satellites will be used to map the North Atlantic, the Arctic Ocean and the Great Lakes, as well as to develop climate models useful to farmers.

According to NASASpaceFlight.com, the satellites can produce images at resolutions between 16 and 164 feet and boasting widths of 12 to 218 miles.

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