Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023
SpaceX Signs Deal with Telesat for Launching Lightspeed Internet Satellites

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has signed a significant deal with satellite operator Telesat to launch the Canadian company’s Lightspeed internet satellites. Under the agreement, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will be used for 14 launches, starting in 2026. Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg praised the Falcon 9 as a cost-effective and reliable option, with the ability to launch multiple satellites per week. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but based on SpaceX’s advertised price of $67 million per Falcon 9 launch, the purchase could be around $900 million.

This deal comes as Telesat seeks reliable launch options promptly. Despite having a 2019 agreement with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, which planned to utilize its New Glenn rocket, delays in the rocket’s development have postponed its maiden launch. Goldberg confirmed that the agreement with Blue Origin is still in effect, but he was unable to disclose the number of launches Telesat has lined up due to non-disclosure agreements. He expressed optimism in the potential of New Glenn as a launch vehicle in the future.

Telesat’s Lightspeed satellites are primarily aimed at serving enterprise customers, such as government and commercial markets. The company intends to focus on these sectors, rather than directly competing in the consumer market against SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper. Telesat recently announced a change in the manufacturer of its Lightspeed satellites, choosing Canadian space company MDA instead of Thales Alenia Space. This decision is expected to save Telesat approximately $2 billion for the launch of its network of 198 satellites.

Telesat CEO Goldberg described the MDA contract as a “home run” and emphasized the company’s commitment to its existing enterprise customer base. By leveraging SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and potentially Blue Origin’s New Glenn in the future, Telesat aims to provide reliable and efficient satellite launches for its Lightspeed internet satellite constellation.