Fri. Sep 29th, 2023
SpaceX and Telesat Partner for 14 Satellite Launches in 2026

SpaceX and Telesat have announced a collaboration for a series of 14 launches starting in 2026. The partnership will utilize SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to deploy up to 18 Lightspeed internet satellites to low Earth orbit (LEO) on each mission. The launches will take place from both California and Florida.

Telesat aims to test its Lightspeed constellation, a network that provides high-speed data links and broadband connectivity worldwide, by 2027. The company plans to begin offering services that same year. Telesat President and CEO Dan Goldberg expressed his excitement about partnering with SpaceX, stating that SpaceX has been a reliable launch provider for Telesat’s geostationary satellite programs.

The Lightspeed constellation will consist of approximately 198 satellites built by MDA, an international space company. Telesat ordered these satellites in August 2023, replacing a larger version initially planned to be built by Thales Alenia Space. Production delays resulted in the switch to MDA, with a $1.6 billion USD contract between Telesat and the Canada-based company.

Telesat initially intended to start launching Lightspeed units in 2020, but faced delays. Goldberg now hopes that MDA will be able to produce one satellite per day for the constellation starting in September 2024. Telesat currently has funding for 156 satellites and is seeking funding for an additional 42 units to improve signal density.

The 14 Falcon 9 launches have the capacity to deploy a maximum of 252 units into orbit. The number of satellites launched in each mission will depend on the specific orbit requirements.

Telesat’s Lightspeed collaboration with SpaceX is expected to be a timely and low-risk means to bring the network into service. SpaceX already operates its own Starlink internet constellation, consisting of over 4,700 satellites launched by Falcon 9 rockets.