Good morning. Payload chatted with Bill Nelson about his international travel spree, and will be publishing a story on the NASA administrator’s global reach this afternoon in Polaris, our weekly policy newsletter. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
🛰️ Telesat x MDA
🎙️ Pathfinder #0059
🔁 People on the move
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Telesat and MDA to Build Lightspeed
Telesat’s LEO-3 demo. Image: SFL
Telesat’s ($TSAT) LEO broadband plans are back on track. On Friday, the company announced a $2.1B CAD ($1.6B) contract with Canadian space tech company MDA ($MDA) to build 198 satellites.
The deal puts an end to Telesat’s previous plan to build its constellation using slightly larger satellites from Thales Alenia Space, which has been beset by supply chain issues and delays. The switch to MDA is saving Telesat ~$2B, the company said in a statement.
Lightspeed: Telesat plans on bringing ultrafast, ultra-secure comms to enterprise and government customers through its Lightspeed constellation, which is the largest commercial space project undertaken by a Canadian company.
Telesat has secured $2B in funding commitments for Lightspeed, and is providing $1.6B in its own equity commitments.
The first 156 satellites needed to get its initial service up and running are fully funded.
Telesat expects the revenues from that initial service to fund the remainder of the constellation.
MDA’s contract includes the option for an additional 100 satellites on top of the first 198.
The first Lightspeed launches are slated for mid-2026, and service is expected to begin by the end of 2027. Telesat CCO Glann Katz told SpaceNews that those launches are already contracted, but didn’t provide additional details.
Business is booming: Telesat also reported its Q2 earnings on Friday, revealing profits of $519.9M CAD ($386.3M). The company’s stock jumped more than 45% the day the contract was announced, and is currently up ~62% since Friday before market open.
MDA’s stock surged, too, since the contract with Telesat is the Canadian tech company’s biggest deal yet. It’s trading up ~24% since Friday morning.
Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg noted in the earnings call that MDA’s digital beam-forming tech, which is intended to increase the efficiency of inter-satellite links, is now “sufficiently mature” to be used.
That tech will allow Telesat to triple the number of beams per satellite, Goldberg said.
Join ITA’s Next Episode of Spazio
11 regional clusters, characterized by an integrated chain of highly specialized SMEs along with major multinationals; 30 universities, and 53 research centers. There is really a lot to learn about the Italian Aerospace Innovation Hubs. You can do it by joining the 4th episode of Spazio: " Cluster and Innovation Hubs," streaming live on LinkedIn and Twitter on Thursday, August 24th, at 11:00 am EST (10:00 am CT).
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Space Policy Trends and Pathfinder #0059 with Jacqueline Feldscher
What do a baseball enthusiast, a craft beer podcast host, and a space journalist have in common? A role at Payload! Today's Pathfinder podcast features a very special guest: Payload’s very own managing editor, Jacqueline Feldscher.
Fresh out of college, Jacqueline aspired to become a sports reporter, but DC soon drew her into the worlds of policy, national security, and, fortuitously for us, space. After stints at renowned media organizations such as Politico and Defense One, she felt the irresistible pull of the startup world. Answering that call, she took the leap and joined Payload as a senior reporter and was soon promoted to managing editor.
A sneak peek…
Jacqueline joins Mo today to discuss a variety of key policy trends that will shape the space industry over the next few years, including:
The upcoming presidential election: Examining how past administrations have approached the space industry and how the 2024 candidates' stances may shape future policy.
Space debris regulation: Exploring governmental perspectives on space debris and the steps necessary for the implementation of effective regulation.
Commercial spaceflight regulations: As the moratorium on human spaceflight regulations—known as the "learning period"—nears its end next month, the stage is set for potential change. Without a Congressional decision to extend this period, the FAA will gain the authority to begin crafting safety regulations for crewed commercial spaceflight.
The Artemis Accords: Are they more bark than bite? Will these Accords follow in the footsteps of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, or will they prove to be more impactful?
The future of Space Command HQ: Delving into the Biden administration’s choice to retain Space Command in Colorado Springs, CO, rather than relocating to Huntsville, AL.
Be sure to check out more of Jacqueline’s work by signing up for her weekly newsletter, Polaris.
Pathfinder #0059 is live now…
See You Thursday!
Join the Payload team with Bank of America, Deloitte, Flow Engineering, and Velo3D for our upcoming space industry happy hour. Scheduled from 5-8pm following Velo3D’s roadshow, this is an evening of networking you won’t want to miss!
In Other News
India’s upcoming solar probe, Aditya-L1, has arrived at the Sriharikota launch site ahead of a planned launch in late August or early September.
China will make its Chang’e 5 lunar samples available to the international community for the first time.
Roscosmos’ proposed Russian Orbital Station isn't attracting any foreign partners yet.
Viasat ($VSAT) opened a ground station in Hokkaido, Japan.
Russia will participate in the International Astronautical Congress this year, after skipping the event last year.
Intelsat cleared a region of C-band by the FCC’s deadline, and announced that it’s due for a $3.7B payout.
On the Move
Vast promoted president Max Haot to CEO, succeeding Vast’s founder Jed McCaleb. McCaleb will transition into the role of founder, board chair & tech fellow. The company also named Alex Hudson as CTO.
NASA welcomed Michigan State associate professor Narendra Das to the NISAR mission science team.
USSF named Emre Kelly, former Florida Today reporter, as chief of media operations at Space Launch Delta 45.
The View from Space
Russia’s Luna-25 sent back the first snaps from its journey to the moon on Sunday.