SpaceX and Telesat Announce Partnership for Lightspeed Satellite Launches in 2026

SpaceX is teaming up with innovative satellite operator Telesat for a series of 14 launches starting in 2026.

Each mission will see SpaceX’s Eagle 9 rocket carrying as many as 18 Lightspeed internet satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO).

The two companies’ multi-launch collaboration was announced on Monday (September 11) and will leverage SpaceXirama’s renowned fast-launch capabilities. The launch will take place from California and Florida.

Related: 8 ways SpaceX is changing spaceflight

Telesat hopes it can test the Lightspeed constellation – an optically connected network that will provide multiple gigabytes per second data links and broadband connectivity worldwide – by 2027. The company aims to start providing services that same year, after a history of delays. the project.

“SpaceX has been a trusted and effective Telesat launch provider in our geostationary satellite program, and I am pleased they will support us with the highly reliable Falcon 9 rocket to deploy the Telesat Lightspeed constellation, the most ambitious program in Telesat’s 54 years. history this year,” Telesat President and CEO Dan Goldberg said in a statement.

The Lightspeed constellation will be populated by about 198 satellites built by international space company MDA, which Telesat ordered in August 2023, Space News reported. The 1,650-pound (750-kilogram) LEO satellite replaced a larger version, which was originally planned to be built for Telesat by Thales Alenia Space, but production delays forced a switch to MDA, resulting in a $1.6 billion USD contract between Telesat and the Canadian company based.

Telesat had originally planned to start rolling out Lightspeed units in 2020 before the delay. Goldberg told SpaceNews that he now hopes MDA can build about one satellite a day for the constellation starting in September 2024.

Goldberg explained that Telesat has funding for the 156 satellites the Lightspeed constellation will need to start providing internet service, and is currently trying to get funding for the additional 42 units needed to provide a network with better signal density.

The 14 Falcon 9 launches will be capable of delivering a maximum of 252 units into orbit, but the total number of satellites that can be launched by each mission will depend on the angle and inclination of the orbit in which the satellites will be deployed.

“Given the dedication and professionalism of the SpaceX team, as well as their track record of outstanding reliability and high launch cadence, I have every confidence that they will be an outstanding partner in helping us bring Telesat Lightspeed into service in a timely and cost-effective manner. how to take risks,” concludes Goldberg.

SpaceX already operates its own internet constellation, called Starlink, which currently consists of more than 4,700 operational satellites, all of which were launched on Falcon 9 rockets.

2023-09-18 20:33:09
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