Telesat, a Canadian satellite operator, has announced a contract with SpaceX for 14 launches starting in mid-2026. The launches will be used to deploy Telesat’s entire Lightspeed broadband constellation within a year. Each launch will be carried out by a Falcon 9 rocket, which has the capacity to carry up to 18 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Telesat has ordered a total of 198 satellites from MDA, with 156 of them already funded. These satellites will provide initial multi-terabit polar and global services.
To further expand coverage and capacity, Telesat plans to finance another 42 satellites. The approximately $800 million required for this expansion could be sourced from early Lightspeed revenues or incremental funding sources. The satellite deployment will take place from SpaceX’s launch facilities in California and Florida, taking advantage of the company’s high launch cadence.
In addition to SpaceX, Telesat has agreements with Blue Origin and Relativity Space for future satellite launches. While Telesat believes that Blue Origin will become a valued launch provider, it does not intend to use Relativity for the initial constellation deployment. Instead, Telesat plans to utilize Relativity for single satellite launches to replace or add to the constellation.
Telesat switched to MDA as its satellite provider due to supply chain issues that caused delays in its original 2020 launch plans. Telesat’s CEO, Dan Goldberg, expects MDA to start mass manufacturing one satellite per day for the Lightspeed constellation. The company is also in the process of procuring 800 optical terminals for the constellation, which would be the largest order of its kind in history. Each Lightspeed satellite will be equipped with four optical terminals, enabling secure and resilient broadband connectivity for enterprise and government customers.
The funding for Telesat’s Lightspeed satellites comes from a combination of Telesat equity, as well as financing commitments from the Canadian federal and provincial governments.