Monday, May 06, 2019

Telesat Prepares to Issue Contracts for its $3Bln CDN Constellation

          By Chuck Black

It's fortunate that Canada's space industry isn't entirely dependent on the $2Bln CDN in new Federal contracts expected to be issued for the US led Lunar Gateway program over the next twenty-four years.

Telesat isn't the only company attempting to build out these complex. satellite constellations As outlined in the March 13th, 2018 Space News post, "LEO and MEO broadband constellations mega source of consternation," the demand for ever-faster broadband internet connections "is maxing out today’s satellites, setting off an industry-wide stampede toward increasingly powerful high-throughput satellites (HTS)." Graphic c/o Space News.

A larger, mostly private sector series of contracts worth approximately $3Bln CDN in total is also expected to roll out within the next few months from Ottawa ON based Telesat for its proposed constellation of low Earth orbit (LEO) small communications satellites.

Telesat is competing against London UK based OneWeb, Hawthorne CA based SpaceX and a variety of other satellite providers attempting to build out enormously complex, but potentially profitable satellite communications networks able to compete with existing DSL, cable, fibre and/or other ground based terrestrial networks in urban areas plus provide internet access to rural regions currently without service.

As outlined in the May 2nd, 2019 Space News post, "Telesat to receive constellation bids this summer," Ottobrunn Germany based Airbus Defence is competing for the Telesat contract against a consortium of companies wrapped around Westminster CO based Maxar Technologies and Paris France based Thales Alenia.

Both Airbus and the Maxar/Thales consortium already possess connections with Telesat competitor, OneWeb.

As most recently noted in the May 6th, 2019 SpaceQ post, "Airbus and Thales Alenia Space-Maxar Consortium Complete Milestones in Bid for Telesat Contract," Brampton ON based MDA, a Maxar subsidiary, is providing antennas for OneWeb satellites. And, as outlined on the Airbus website promoting their OneWeb satellite contributions, OneWeb and Airbus have teamed up to design and manufacture up to 900 satellites for the OneWeb constellation.

Airbus and the Maxar/Thales have also said they’re willing to establish factories in Canada to build the satellites.

According to Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg, the next step in the process "would be getting commercial proposals from both of these prospective suppliers,” an activity expected to move forward over the summer.

As outlined in the May 6th, 2019 Telesat press release, "Another Milestone for Telesat’s LEO Program – Manufacturing Teams Complete System Definition and Risk Management Phase," both teams are moving forward with their bid. The proposals are focused around how the satellites would be built and inter-operate with ground systems once in orbit.

According in the April 9th, 2019 post, "Telesat Hires a Four Year Old US Based Start-up to Launch its Satellites," Telesat has signed multiple-launch agreements with at least two launch providers, but hasn't specified how many satellites each company will launch.

Much of the funding for the Telesat LEO constellation is expected to be provided through the $1.7Bln CDN Universal Broadband Fund, first noted earlier this year as part of the Budget 2019 commitment to universal high speed internet access for all Canadians.

Telesat plans to have the constellation in service in 2022 and is expected to decide on a prime contractor to manufacture the satellites in the second quarter of 2019. The Telesat constellation is expected to contain 292 satellites, but could potentially grow to 512 satellites.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog. 

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