Advanced Television

Telesat cuts Lightspeed fleet size

May 9, 2022

By Chris Forrester

Ottawa-based Telesat has significantly reduced the planned size of its Lightspeed low Earth orbiting constellation. Telesat says of its originally planned 298 craft, it will now orbit just 188 plus 10 in-flight orbiting spares.

CEO Dan Goldberg gave an update on current plans and decisions for the constellation as part of the operator’s Q1/2022 financials on May 6th. The news is not a complete surprise given that Goldberg hinted 3 months ago that his engineers were reviewing – and potentially reducing – the constellation’s size because of price inflation and componentry concerns.

Goldberg told analysts that the costs of the platform would still be in the $5 billion range when the complete project is costed to include ground facilities, launch costs, insurance and software.

Telesat has cash commitments of some CA$4.2 billion from its own coffers plus commitments from the Canadian government and the Government of Quebec.

“We didn’t love the inflationary pressures that we’re seeing,” Goldberg told analysts. “But even with them, we think that what we’re bringing to market is going to be disruptive in terms of the quality of service and the price at which we can deliver it, still achieving the kinds of returns that that we need to achieve.”

Telesat also released its financials reported CA$186 million in revenues, a fall of 3 per cent when compared to the same period last year. Contracted backlog stands at CA$2 billion, excluding CA$750 million of backlog for Telesat Lightspeed.

There was good news in the form of a significant contract renewal with Dish Network. Dish renewed more than half of its capacity on Telesat’s Anik F3 satellite for two-years although at a lower lease rate. A separate long-time customer purchased almost all of the capacity that Dish did not renew to use for broadband connectivity for the cruise market, Goldberg added.

Telesat’s guidance for the full year sees revenues to be between CA$720 million and CA$740 million.

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