Telesat loses satellite in Russian catastrophe

Ottawa-based satellite operator Telesat has lost a trial satellite (LEO-2) for its proposed global Low Earth Orbiting broadband system.

Space Systems/Loral delivered the first of a pair of ‘Phase 1’ test satellites to the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Eastern Russia near the Chinese border earlier in November, in readiness for a launch aboard a Soyuz-2 vehicle provided by Glavkosmos.

That launch took place at 12.41am EST on November 28th, with a planned launch of a total of 19 satellites for clients from Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden and Germany. The important Fregat upper stage of the rocket reportedly failed which resulted in the loss of all the satellite payloads, and being blamed on “human error” according to a preliminary analysis of the situation.

LEO-2 is the first of two prototype satellites that Telesat has ordered as it investigates deploying a constellation of high-throughput communications satellites into low Earth orbit. LEO-1 is awaiting launch on an Indian rocket later this year.

Telesat says that its initial 120 satellites will be in place by 2021. The operator says it is considering expanding its constellation beyond the initial deployment.

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