Telesat Signs Agreement with SpaceX to Launch Lightspeed Satellite Constellation

Canadian satellite operator Telesat has announced that it has signed an agreement with SpaceX to launch its low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation called Lightspeed. The launch is expected to begin in 2026, with the goal of providing global broadband service from space by the end of 2027.

LEO satellites operate much closer to Earth compared to traditional satellites, resulting in faster transmission of information and improved broadband service, even in remote areas. Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg expressed his excitement, stating that this agreement is a significant milestone towards the deployment of Lightspeed.

Telesat selected SpaceX for the launch due to factors such as price, performance, reliability, and schedule tempo. The contract involves 14 launches, with each Falcon 9 rocket carrying multiple satellites into orbit. The constellation is expected to be fully deployed by the end of 2027, enabling Telesat to offer global service.

Telesat initially planned to provide global service by the end of 2024 but experienced delays due to various factors, including supply chain issues and inflation. The company anticipates that the SpaceX contract will provide flexibility for expanding the constellation beyond the 198 satellites committed to with MDA Ltd, the company awarded the contract for satellite construction.

Telesat is entering the competitive realm of LEO networks, primarily targeting enterprise customers such as mobile operators, governments, aircraft, and shipping companies. While most of the competition in this space focuses on consumer markets, Telesat aims to cater to the specific needs of these enterprise customers.

Satellite constellations, including SpaceX’s Starlink and Blue Origin’s Project Kuiper, have significantly impacted the U.S. launch supply in recent years. Companies like Amazon have made substantial bulk launch orders to deploy their networks. SpaceX intends to increase its annual launch rate by nearly double in 2023, thanks to the growth of the Starlink constellation.

This article was generated from the Reuters news service.