Satellite operator Telesat has announced that it has contracted with space technology company MDA to build 198 satellites for the Telesat Lightspeed Low Earth Orbit (LEO) programme.
Telesat says that MDA’s design will allow each satellite to be slightly smaller than the satellites it was previously considering for the network while still maintaining planned performance levels. As a result, the company says that the anticipated total capital cost savings for the 198-satellite programme is approximately US$2 billion compared to prior capital estimates.
The Telesat Lightspeed network has been designed to create an optically-linked mesh network in space, with multi-Gbps data links offering low-latency broadband connectivity anywhere in the world. With the signing of this contract, the programme can proceed towards its goal of commencing satellite launches in mid-2026 and introducing global services in late 2027.
“I’m incredibly proud of the Telesat team for their innovative work to further optimise our Telesat Lightspeed design – which was already a highly advanced and high performing LEO network – resulting in dramatically reduced costs with unmatched enterprise-class service offerings,” said Dan Goldberg, President and CEO of Telesat.
“MDA is a world class satellite prime contractor with an impressive track record and a number of recent high profile, strategic space programmes announced, and it is a privilege to be working side-by-side with them on the flagship, game-changing Telesat Lightspeed constellation.”
“MDA’s deep expertise as a LEO prime contractor, as well our own leading expertise in satellite operations and systems engineering, gives us the highest level of confidence in meeting our objectives.”
Telesat has aggregate funding commitments in place from its Canadian federal and provincial government partners in the combined amount of up to approximately US$2 billion. This funding, combined with Telesat’s own approximately US$1.6 billion equity contribution, as well as vendor financing, is expected to provide the Telesat Lightspeed programme with sufficient funds to launch global service, which will occur once the first 156 satellites are in orbit.
Telesat will continue adding satellites that are funded using Lightspeed cash flow to complete the initial 198 satellite constellation, with the total cost of the programme estimated to reach US$3.5 billion.