Thales Alenia Space has entered an agreement with SSL to form a consortium that will develop and manufacture a constellation of advanced low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites and end-to-end systems for Telesat.

Led by Thales, the consortium has secured a contract from Telesat for a system design and risk management project for the LEO constellation.

As part of the contract, the consortium will work with Telesat to design the end-to-end system, including satellites, gateways, user terminals, operations centres, and ground networks.

Over the next few months, the consortium is expected to complete a preliminary design, address key hardware and software development items, as well as conduct a series of technical reviews to offer a firm proposal for the manufacture and launch of the LEO satellites and the deployment of the ground system infrastructure.

“This consortium is the occasion for Thales Alenia Space, leader in the constellations market, to prove once again its unique expertise in this area.”

Telesat will finance the design phase and is expected to select a prime contractor, either the Thales Alenia Space/Maxar consortium or an alternate party, by the middle of next year for its LEO programme that includes a space segment, a ground segment and system integration.

Thales Alenia Space Sales and Marketing senior vice-president Martin Van Schaik said: “This consortium is the occasion for Thales Alenia Space, leader in the constellations market, to prove once again its unique expertise in this area.”

Telesat’s LEO constellation will provide a combination of capacity, speed, security, resiliency and low cost, with latency performance that is as good or better than the advanced terrestrial networks.

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Offering services across the globe, it is hoped that the Telesat LEO constellation will accelerate 5G expansion, end the digital divide with fibre-like high-speed services for rural and remote communities, and provide commercial and government broadband services on land, sea and air.