Canada’s Telesat in squabble with Russia

Canada’s Telesat is arguing with Moscow-based satellite operator Russian Satellite Communications Co (RSCC) over a disputed orbital position.

Telesat operates its Telstar 12 craft at 15 degrees West, over the mid-Atlantic, but which is nearing the end of its service life (it was launched in 1999).  The problem comes about because RSCC has a slot allocated to it at 14 degrees West.  RSCC, which is Russia’s largest satellite operator, plans to launch a satellite (Express-AM8) into its position “by 2014”.

This would not too much of a problem if the Canadian satellite pointed only towards North America, and the Russian craft faced only to the East. But it now emerges that RSCC has sold capacity to a UK company, and another in Germany, for transmitting signals to the Americas and South-East Africa.

On February 21st, and again on March 1st, Telesat’s majority shareholder Loral Space & Communications informed the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) that it had been unable to resolve the dispute between Telesat and RSCC.  “Failure to reach an agreement with RSCC may result in restrictions on the use and operation of Telstar 12, which could materially restrict Telesat’s ability to earn revenue from Telstar 12.   The continued uncertainty over Telesat’s ability to reach an agreement with RSCC, or the failure to reach an agreement, could prejudice Telesat’s ability to replace Telstar 12 […]  or make a replacement satellite not economically viable.”

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