Telesat has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Québec for an investment of C$400 million into Telesat Lightspeed, Telesat’s LE) satellite network.
Telesat will invest C$1.6 billion into Québec, both directly and through its supply chain, which will include a significant portion of Lightspeed manufacturing and operations.
The Lightspeed program will create 600, high-paying, STEM jobs, leverage Québec’s substantial aerospace expertise and infrastructure, and allow the province to harness the significant economic growth from the burgeoning New Space economy.
Under the terms of the MOU, the investment by the Government of Québec will consist of C$200 million in preferred equity as well as a C$200 million loan. It is expected that a final agreement will be completed in the coming months. This collaboration comes on the heels of Telesat’s selection of Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor for Lightspeed and its recently completed C$600 million partnership with the Government of Canada to affordably bridge Canada’s digital divide through Telesat Lightspeed.
As a result of this agreement and given Québec’s world-class expertise and competencies in the aerospace sector, the province will be a key partner for the manufacturing and operations of Lightspeed. Specifically, the province will be home to a large, Telesat campus that will house a broad range of Lightspeed technical operations, including the Network Operating Centre (NOC), a satellite control centre, the cybersecurity operations centre, the engineering lab and an advanced landing station that will provide secure, high-capacity communication links to the Lightspeed constellation. This new campus will host approximately 320 new, highly skilled, Telesat jobs, largely in STEM.
In light of their world-class expertise, Telesat has selected Canadian space technology company MDA to manufacture the cutting-edge phased array antennas to be incorporated into the Lightspeed satellites. In manufacturing these antennas, MDA will leverage 3D additive manufacturing and will incorporate advanced beam hopping technology that will allow the Lightspeed constellation to dynamically and flexibly focus high capacity broadband links into rural and remote communities and other demand hot spots around the world.
Telesat’s prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space, will establish the final manufacturing of the advanced Lightspeed satellites at an assembly, integration and testing facility in Québec and, in this regard, is in discussions with Québec-based partners. This state-of-the-art facility will leverage next-generation manufacturing capabilities to deliver, on average, one Lightspeed satellite per day.
“Telesat welcomes and appreciates the strong support and participation of the Government of Québec as we embark on Lightspeed, the most ambitious and consequential program in our more than 50-year history,” said Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s President and CEO. “The vast aerospace expertise resident in Québec, coupled with the Government’s leadership and vision for the fast-growing New Space Economy, provides an overwhelmingly compelling rationale for Telesat to make substantial investments in the province, including the manufacture of the Lightspeed satellites and the establishment of our extensive technical operations. We deeply value the world-class talent and capabilities in Québec and we are excited to welcome that talent into the Telesat family.”
François Legault, the Premier of Québec, said, “Today’s news is extraordinary, both for Québec’s aerospace sector and for Québec as a whole. The preservation of 650 jobs and the creation of a further 600 jobs at about $100,000 a year is an example of how Québec will bridge the wealth gap with neighbouring jurisdictions. I am in politics to achieve this goal. The pandemic will have an ongoing impact on aircraft construction, and this is the ideal time to accelerate the pace of satellite development, a new and promising field for the aerospace industry. Your government will continue to invest to create better-paid jobs in Québec, to build a more prosperous Québec, and ensure a prouder Québec.”
Pierre Fitzgibbon, Québec’s Minister of Economy and Innovation, remarked,“The Telesat project will raise the international profile of Québec engineering and our space industry. It gives us a key position in the new, private-sector space race. This investment will boost our aerospace industry, which has suffered over the last year. Québec is already a leader in the field, but with today’s announcement, we show that we will do what it takes to remain a leader into the future.”
Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer, MDA, said, “We are very proud to be selected for this critical role on Telesat Lightspeed, which will enable us to expand our presence in Québec and create highly-skilled, high-paying jobs while engaging with our local supply chain on this ground-breaking program. With this key role in developing next-generation antenna technology, combined with our advanced manufacturing capabilities, we anticipate major growth in our Montreal-based Satellite Systems business. We would like to thank Telesat for its confidence in MDA, and the Government of Québec for its financial support.”
MDA will provide one of the critical technology subsystems on Telesat Lightspeed — with advanced antenna design and manufacturing capabilities at its modern facility in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, this job-creating project enjoys the support of the Government of Quebec through a financial contribution.
MDA will develop the Direct Radiating Array (DRA), a revolutionary phased array, electronically-steered multi-beam antenna that will provide unlimited coverage flexibility and agility through advanced beam-forming technology. This configuration will achieve any-beam, anytime, anywhere coverage over the entire visible Earth.
This new technology represents a major and key investment for the success of MDA’s Satellite Systems business, as it is expected that most LEO, Medium MEO and GEO satellite markets will migrate to these technologies in the future. MDA will deliver more than 1,000 units and the company is also in advanced discussions with Thales Alenia Space for the Lightspeed satellites’ final assembly and manufacturing in Québec.
The scope of MDA’s work on this project is expected to involve an investment of over C$200 million by MDA and create approximately 280 jobs over a period of five years, while sustaining MDA’s overall highly-experienced and specialized Quebec-based engineering workforce. With the development of next generation satellite technologies, MDA expects significant growth in its Montreal-based satellite systems business. To support this strong economic activity, Investissement Québec will provide a loan of C$50 million.