Ottawa-based Telesat to launch low-earth orbit satellites on Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket


Ottawa’s Telesat is partnering with some of the biggest companies in space to put its satellites into orbit and power their connections once they’re up there.

The local firm, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, announced Thursday it has signed a multi-launch agreement with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s launch services firm, Blue Origin. Telesat’s low-earth orbit satellites will be put in space on the back of Blue Origin’s reusable, heavy-lift New Glenn rocket, slated for its maiden voyage in 2021.

Telesat has previously tapped Elon Musk’s SpaceX to put its satellites into orbit.

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The firm’s LEO constellation is designed to provide high-speed broadband connections “anywhere on earth,” according to a release. It aims to accelerate the expansion of 5G networking around the world and drastically improve connectivity in rural and remote communities.

To do so, the Ottawa firm also announced Thursday it will work with Loon, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Loon’s operations are similar to Telesat’s LEO constellation, just at a lower level of the atmosphere: The company is developing a fleet of stratospheric balloons – rather than traditional satellites – to provide internet connections from the skies.

Telesat will use Loon’s network operating system to maintain the flow of data through its LEO constellation. In a release, the firms noted that Loon’s balloons and Telesat’s satellites face similar challenges in establishing connections between each other and terrestrial targets, given that the objects are constantly in motion around a spinning Earth.

“The addition of Loon brings an entirely new set of capabilities to the world-class supplier team Telesat has built for our LEO program – capabilities that will give Telesat a powerful competitive advantage in our global broadband service offerings,” said Telesat LEO vice-president Erwin Hudson in a statement.

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