On February 9, Canadian satellite provider Telesat announced that it had chosen Thales Alenia Space to develop 298 satellites in the low-Earth orbit for the broadband network. Telesat also stated that it will start providing services in the year 2023 for its constellation, called Lightspeed. The European producer Thales Alenia’s range restricts the years-long comparison of rival suppliers. In the year 2018, Thales Alenia Space partnered up with the Maxar Technologies to take on the Airbus Defense and Space in a partnership deal. Thales Alenia and Maxar eventually broke up and a 3-way rivalry became the Telesat constellation.

Telesat President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Goldberg informed SpaceNews that the Thales Alenia Space was chosen for its satellite architecture but also its ground services and engineering. The $3 billion contracts are for the 298 satellites to be manufactured, network management software, as well as satellite integration with access, points to be installed around the globe. For Lightspeed, the overall investment estimated is $5 billion.

Goldberg confirmed that for over two years, Thales Alenia and Telesat have been collaborating on the bus concept. He stated Telesat was satisfied by the success of Thales Alenia as the Iridium NEXT constellation’s main contractor as well as by the satellites it developed for the O3B network of the SES. That was a massive component of our decision,” he added, “to choose them.

Specifics have yet to be released on where the satellites would be built. “We anticipate that to happen soon,” Goldberg stated. “In Canada as well as in Europe, there will be substantial job creation.” Launches will begin in the year 2022. The aim is to generate one satellite a day. A deal with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin for the launch services on the New Glenn rocket was signed by Telesat in the year 2019, but it is not exclusive, Goldberg stated. “We’re also collaborating with the other launch providers.”

 The 700-kilogram satellites of Telesat will be deployed into polar as well as inclined orbits; 78 satellites would launch at an altitude of about 1,015 km in a polar orbit with the 13 satellites in 6 planes. At an elevation of 1,325 kilometers, some other 220 will go into an angled orbit with Eleven satellites in 20 aircraft. The architecture was planned for international pole-to-pole coverage, concentrating power, the firm added, in some places where more demand is anticipated.

Goldberg stated network operators, the internet service providers, the shipping industry as well as governments are the main markets for Telesat. He stated that Telesat does not see the huge internet constellation Starlink of SpaceX as the direct rival. “It’s very different from our focus,” he added. “We’re a company for business providers, we don’t focus on the consumer broadband.”


By Adam

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