Telesat LEO constellation in 2022
March 2, 2020
By Chris Forrester
Ottawa-based Telesat says it could start some services from its constellation of LEO satellites by the end of 2022. The first craft will launch later in 2021 or early 2022 although final decisions as to the extent of the service are yet to be made. Indeed, orders for the construction of the fleet have yet to be placed and will be determined around mid-year.
Telesat said the planned constellation of 300 satellites will be in orbit during 2023, and the design calls for craft which are larger and more complex than those being orbited by SpaceX’s Starlink.
Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s President/CEO addressing analysts during the company’s Q4 and full year results statement, said: “In addition to achieving stable financial results relative to the prior year, we took significant steps in laying the foundations for our future growth. In particular we made meaningful progress in refining the design of our planned revolutionary Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation and, importantly, announced a Memorandum of Understanding with the Canadian Government to leverage the constellation to bridge the Digital Divide in Canada, an arrangement we expect will generate $1.2 billion in revenue over a 10 year period.”
For the year ended December 31st 2019, Telesat reported consolidated revenue of C$911 million, an increase of 1 per cent (C$8 million) compared to the same period in 2018. When adjusted for changes in foreign exchange rates, revenue was unchanged compared to 2018. Revenue increases related to the Telstar 19 VANTAGE and Telstar 18 VANTAGE satellites, which were launched in 2018, and revenues earned from short-term services to other satellite operators.
Operating expenses were C$165 million, a decrease of 11 per cent from 2018. When adjusting for the impact of foreign exchange rate changes, expenses decreased by 12 per cent (C$22 million).
Fleet utilisation was 81 per cent, and backlog was C$3.3 billion.
It also emerged that Canada’s government is also looking to repurpose C-band satellite capacity for 5G usage, which could lead to further compensation payments for satellite operators service the nation.