Telesat plans to complete the funding for its Lightspeed broadband constellation, as well as deals to deploy the fleet of approximately 300 satellites in the coming months. Telesat chose Thales Alenia Space as the main contractor for the network of low-Earth-orbit satellites on February 9th. The deal, which covers network control tools and satellite-to-gateway integration, was worth $3 billion, with Telesat forecasting a cumulative expenditure of $5 billion for the device.
Dan Goldberg, the president as well as chief executive of Telesat, announced the $5 billion cumulative cost of Lightspeed during a meeting of the Satellite 2021 LEO Digital Forum on April 6. The scheme would be funded with a combination of debt and equity, with debt accounting for 60% of the total and equity accounting for 40%.
He said, “We’re almost through with the road to get the funding in order.” “I foresee it to be completed in the next few months.” He gave a similar period for completing the constellation’s launch plans. Blue Origin has a deal with the firm for an undisclosed amount of New Glenn launches, which was revealed over two years ago. It also has a deal with Relativity Space to send individual satellites into orbit using the Terran 1 compact launch vehicle to fill in holes in the scheme. Telesat is likely to partner with other launch firms because it wants to initiate Lightspeed launches in the year 2022, but New Glenn isn’t expected to launch until at least the fourth quarter of 2022. “Right now, we’re still well-engaged with the other launch providers,” Goldberg stated. “I believe we will be able to make some updates in the coming months.”
Telesat has remained the most aggressive in seeking an LEO constellation by the geostationary communications satellites’ main operators. Although SES has its O3b satellite system in the medium Earth orbit, Telesat’s Lightspeed would be even greater, competing directly with newcomers such as SpaceX, OneWeb, as well as Amazon’s Project Kuiper.
According to Telesat, Lightspeed would be targeted at a number of sectors, like backhaul networks for mobile network carriers and internet service providers, aeronautical and maritime access, and government users. “We see massive potential there,” he stated, “provided you put the correct value proposition to the market.” “Big, quick, and inexpensive ties are what those verticals are searching for. We think it’s important that they have low latency.”
Telesat chose an LEO constellation because of these conditions, as well as a need for “ubiquitous” connectivity, even in polar regions. “We think we will be able to meet those requirements,” he said. “We are very optimistic regarding our prospects.” When asked whether Telesat pursued an LEO scheme because it was afraid of losing relevance if it remained purely a GEO operator, Goldberg paused before responding. Based on the company’s study of the broadband market’s rise and how to better support it, he eventually said, “I guess it’s something we had to do.” “For us, you have no choice but to land at LEO.”