Three weeks ago Telesat announced that it had contracted the Space Flight Laboratory to build another demonstration satellite for its Lightspeed constellation, dubbed LEO 3, and that it was nearing completion.
Yesterday, the Space Flight Laboratory announced that not only was the satellite built, but that it had shipped and was on its way to New Zealand for integration and launch by Rocket Lab no earlier than Q3. Rocket Lab has a busy launch manifest for the second half of the year, with 10 planned launches including this one.
In their earlier announcement of LEO 3, Telessat stated that “LEO 3 will provide continuity for customer and ecosystem vendor testing campaigns following the decommissioning of Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite.”
LEO 3 is built on the Space Flight Laboratory DEFIANT microsatellite platform and will measure 30x30x45 cm with a mass of 30kg.
Previously Telesat had stated that “once successfully launched and on-station, LEO 3 will operate under an existing ITU network filing for Telesat Lightspeed.”
At the time, Telesat told SpaceQ that LEO 3 “will Bring into Use (BIU) a LEO V-band filing.” Additionally, the representative said “LEO 3 has the ability to transmit and receive in Ka-band and Q/V-band, with crossbanding capability as well. (i.e., uplink in either Ka-band or V-band, and downlink in either Ka- or Q-band).”
Telesat has had to delay building their proposed Lightspeed constellation for a variety reasons including the pandemic, supply chain issues, and notably closing their financing, this despite strong endorsements and backing by Ontario and Quebec as well as the federal government.
Meanwhile, as an example of what other’s have done, SpaceX’s Starlink continues to solidify it’s position, OneWeb is back on track with 634 satellites on orbit, and Amazon’s Kuiper will launch its first two satellites this year and is ramping up production. While Telesat may have some solid backing from governments and even customers, there will come a point, particularly on the commercial side, where those customers will move on. In November 2021 Telesat was ‘bullish’ on its satellite constellation’s future. Now, 19 months later, is anyone bullish anymore?