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Telesat commits to building a LEO mega-constellation

May 7, 2019

By Chris Forrester

Technically Ottawa-based Telesat is already a member of the LEO ‘club’ given that it launched a ‘Phase 1’ test satellite in January 2018. CEO Dan Goldberg told analysts that it expected to receive official quotations from a pair of satellite builders this summer, and would then award a contract.

France-based Airbus and a consortium of Maxar-Thales Alenia are the bidders for the contracts which are reportedly worth some $3 billion.

Goldberg has not confirmed the precise number of LEO satellites it would order, but the operator has previously said that there would be natural ‘break points’ at 112 and 192 satellites prior to reaching a target 292 craft although it has also been stated that an eventual fleet could expand to 512 satellites.

Telesat wants to have the fleet operational by 2022, and the company has already signed launch contracts with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket launch business.

Goldberg told analysts that Telesat was now studying how to pay for the new fleet. Options include tapping into the company’s existing cash balances from the company’s existing geostationary income from its Anik and Telstar fleets, or raising fresh funding or seeking low-interest export-credit loans.

Telesat’s latest financials show that revenue fell some 4 per cent at C$222 million (and a net income of C$172 million). Telesat’s backlog was C$3.7 billion.

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