Advanced Television

MDA selects Tesat for Telesat Lightspeed

May 30, 2024

By Chris Forrester

Ottawa-based Telesat’s planned Lightspeed low Earth orbiting mega-constellation is moving ahead. MDA, which is the prime contractor on the project, has selected Germany-based Tesat-Spacecom to manufacture 792 laser terminals for the 198-satellite system. Tesat is an independent operating subsidiary of Airbus Defense & Space.

Earlier this year Tesat announced that it was expanding its factory capacity to handle up to 2,000 laser units annually. The sophisticated laser devices weigh under 12 kgs yet can handle bi-directional throughput of up to 10 Gb/s over 8000 kms of space.

Tesat CEO Thomas Reinartz said: “The trust that MDA Space puts in us now proves that we are well on track.”

The Lightspeed system will use these optical laser links, travelling between satellites at the speed of light, as well as on-board phased array antennas incorporating hopping beams capable of scanning the Earth and all in a fully interconnected global mesh network that allows customers to access the Telesat Lightspeed Network no matter where they are.

Telesat’s first test satellite was launched in January 2018, but the following couple of years were not easy financially. Those problems are now behind the company, helped by financial input from Canada’s government, and it now has funding in place to build the system.

Telesat expects to start launching satellites in 2026, and offer a full global service in 2027.

Separately, MDA – which amongst other achievements is perhaps best known for its ‘Canadarm’ robotic apparatus – announced on May 29th that it had joined Starlab Space, the privately funded space station, as a “strategic partner”.

“With MDA Space joining Starlab, we’re not just embracing innovation, we’re wielding it,” said Tim Kopra, CEO of Starlab Space and a former NASA astronaut. “Having experienced firsthand the exceptional reliability and versatility of robotic technologies developed by MDA Space during my time on the International Space Station, I am confident that this partnership will drive innovation and unlock new possibilities for Starlab. MDA Space robotic technologies, which have long been a cornerstone of space exploration, will be integral to our operations, ensuring precision and excellence in every endeavour.”

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