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Telesat secures $400m investment from Québec government; announces antenna manufacturer

Telesat’s prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space, will establish the Lightspeed satellites’ final assembly and manufacturing in Québec and is in discussions with Québec-based partners.

Telesat has announced that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Québec for an investment of $400m into Telesat Lightspeed, its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network.

Telesat will invest $1.6bn into Québec, both directly and through its supply chain, which will include a significant portion of Lightspeed manufacturing and operations. The Lightspeed programme 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.

The Quebec government will obtain $200m in preferred Telesat equity and provide the company with a $200m loan as part of an agreement expected to be signed in the coming months.

Lightspeed aims at bridging the digital divide in Canada and globally.

Telesat’s new Québec-based Lightspeed production and operations facilities will include: a Network Operating Center; a Satellite Control Center; a Cybersecurity Operations Center; an Engineering Lab; and an advanced landing station providing secure communication links to the constellation.

Telesat also selected Canadian space technology company MDA to manufacture the phased array antennas that will be incorporated into the Lightspeed satellites. MDA will also manufacture its Lightspeed components in Québec.

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.

Speaking about the contract, Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s President and CEO, said: “Telesat welcomes and appreciates the strong support and participation of the Government of Québec as we embark on Lightspeed, the most ambitious and consequential programme in our more than 50-year history. 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, Premier of Québec, added: “This 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!”