According to a Telesat executive, landing stations which can connect to the company’s proposed LEO (low Earth orbit) broadband network is going to begin construction in spring 2023.

After announcing their agreement on February 1, Aneesh Dalvi, who works as the Telesat LEO landing station, as well as user terminal director, revealed that the first of Thirty global landing stations is going to be installed in Canada by Danish equipment provider Cobham SATCOM.

Cobham SATCOM developed landing station meant for the prototype of Telesat Phase 1, which was launched into LEO in January of the year 2018, and is currently replacing much of the ground equipment for Globalstar, a US-based satellite operator.

Telesat’s landing stations will be centered on Cobham SATCOM’s TRACKER Gateway series, with every landing station consisting of numerous Ka-band antennas relying on topography.

Cobham SATCOM will manufacture, integrate, and deploy the monitoring antennas that Telesat will require to land communications from an anticipated constellation of about 298 satellites under the terms of the agreement. Telesat plans to deliver 15 Tbps (terabits per second) of global bandwidth with its full constellation, therefore ground infrastructure will be vital.

Last year, however, Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg announced on November 5 that the company’s satellite manufacturer, Thales Alenia Space, had come into pandemic-related supply chain concerns that were delaying production. As a result, Telesat said it will require an extension to fulfill regulatory commitments agreed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as it no longer anticipates to be able to deploy half of the constellation by November 3, 2023.

According to Dalvi, the amount of the production delay is still uncertain as Thales Alenia Space works with the project’s hundreds of vendors to find solutions. Telesat, which went public on November 19, has yet to secure the final $2 billion of the $5 billion costs of the LEO constellation.

 

From the ground up

 

Notwithstanding the space segment delays, Telesat is pushing ahead with the LEO network’s ground infrastructure. In exchange for financial help, the Canadian operator has made major capacity commitments, and Dalvi said the business expects to receive regulatory approvals this year to establish its first-ever landing station in the nation.

Landing stations in other nations are being discussed and are at “various phases for different countries,” he said, adding that “some will be in Europe and Australia” because Telesat requires sites in both northern and southern latitudes to support first launches.

The constellation will use OSL (optical inter-satellite links), which will lessen the constellation’s dependency on-ground infrastructure for terrestrial traffic. “We can deliver service anywhere in the globe with just one landing station to start with since we possess the [OSL] mesh on all satellites,” Dalvi said.

Depending on the geography, “each OSL hop” adds around 5-10 milliseconds of latency, he noted. “If you do have to backhaul the traffic through the OSL mesh halfway around the globe or anything like that,” he said, staying inside the company’s 50-millisecond latency threshold becomes difficult.

After overcoming all regulatory hurdles, Dalvi expects it will take Cobham SATCOM and Telesat 3 to 4 months to establish a landing station. If demand warrants, they can deploy over 30 landing stations under their agreement. Telesat Lightspeed has also selected a user terminal supplier, he claimed but declined to elaborate.

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