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Canadian satellite operating with U.S. space network

OTTAWA, Jan. 31 (UPI) —

A Canadian military satellite has completed operational testing and is now part of the U.S. Space Surveillance Network.

Sapphire — built for less than $86 million by prime contractor MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. -â € “ will monitor space objects that are orbiting between 3,700 miles and nearly 25,000 miles above the Earth, with its data being incorporated into an international catalogue that is used to help prevent collisions in space, Canada’s Department of National Defense said.

Sapphire will help safeguard over a trillion dollars of critical space assets such as telecommunications, weather, search and rescue, and earth observation satellites, as well as the Global Positioning System.

"By monitoring space from space, Canada is providing an important niche contribution to the international space surveillance system," the department said.

Sapphire was launched last year by the Indian Space Research Organization. It has joined the U.S. Space Surveillance Network through a memorandum of understanding signed by the U.S. and Canadian governments in 2012.

The Department of National Defense said the satellite will have an operational life of five years.

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