RICHMOND, BC, Feb. 25, 2013 /CNW/ - MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. ("MDA" or "the Company") ( TSX: MDA), a provider of essential information solutions, announced today that the Sapphire satellite developed by MDA for Canada's Department of National Defence (DND) has been launched into its proper orbit, and communication with the satellite has been established. The satellite was launched out of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, India on February 25, 2013 at 4:26 a.m. PST. Canada's Sapphire is the Department of National Defence's first dedicated operational military satellite. This space-based electro-optical sensor will track man-made space objects in Earth's orbit between 6,000 and 40,000 km in altitude, as part of Canada's continued support of Space Situational Awareness. Data from the Sapphire satellite will contribute to the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, enhancing the ability of both countries to detect and avoid the collision of critical space platforms with other satellites or pieces of debris. Daniel Friedmann, MDA's president and CEO said, "We are very pleased to see the Sapphire satellite successfully launched. This is MDA's first solution for the growing space surveillance market. Studies have shown that with increases in space debris, and the threat to the systems and services growing, space-based space surveillance will become more and more crucial to provide collision avoidance capabilities and prevent system and service loss." MDA will also operate and maintain the Sapphire System for five years following system commissioning, expected approximately three months from deployment. The Company's responsibilities include relaying assigned taskings from DND to the satellite, processing the collected information, and sending the data to the Sensor System Operations Centre (SSOC) operated by DND at 22 Wing in North Bay, Ontario. Upon receipt of the processed data, the SSOC will correlate, identify, archive and transmit the information to the United States' Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC). MDA is the prime contractor for the Sapphire program. The Sapphire contractor team includes Terma A/S of Herlev, Denmark, COM DEV International of Cambridge, Ontario, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of Surrey, England. The launch provider is Antrix Corporation Ltd. of Sriharikota, India. About MDA MDA is a global communications and information company providing operational solutions to commercial and government organizations worldwide. MDA's business is focused on markets and customers with strong repeat business potential. In addition the Company conducts a significant amount of advanced technology development.