Next generation Canadian satellites set to launch next week in California

The long awaited launch of Canada's three Earth-observation satellites known as the RADARSAT Constellation is scheduled for next week.

Officials at the Canadian Space Agency provided an overview today of the next generation of Canadian satellites, a $1.2-billion project, and the type of work they will do ahead of the June 11 launch.

The three satellites will be launched into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The satellites, which will use radar to locate ships, monitor ecosystems and keep an eye on the Arctic, among other tasks, are part of a government-owned mission.

The trio will replace the RADARSAT-2 satellite, which has been in orbit since 2007. It was designed to last seven years, but is still operating while Constellation has been delayed.

The billion-dollar price tag, up from the original estimate of $600 million when it was first announced more than a decade ago, includes design, building, testing, launch and operational costs as the satellites are expected to last at least seven years.