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Telesat Selects Space Flight Laboratory to Manufacture LEO 3 Demonstration Satellite

leo 3

OTTAWA AND TORONTO, CANADA – May 30, 2023Telesat (NASDAQ and TSX: TSAT), one of the world’s largest and most innovative satellite operators, today announced a contract award to Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) of Toronto, Ontario to manufacture a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) demonstration satellite for Telesat.

The demonstration satellite, named LEO 3, will provide continuity for customer and ecosystem vendor testing campaigns following the decommissioning of Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite. Once successfully launched and on-station, LEO 3 will operate under an existing ITU network filing for Telesat Lightspeed, the company’s enterprise-class LEO constellation.  

“We’re excited to partner with SFL, who has as a proven track record for building high-performing satellite platforms – on time and within budget,” stated Dave Wendling, Telesat’s Chief Technical Officer. “LEO 3 will serve an important role for low-latency customer applications testing, and for supporting LEO antenna and modem development efforts in advance of our Telesat Lightspeed satellite deployment.”

SFL is developing LEO 3 on its popular DEFIANT microsatellite platform, a cost-effective design that supports demanding missions without sacrificing performance. The completed LEO 3 will be a compact microsatellite measuring 30x30x45 cm with a mass of 30 kg. More than a dozen DEFIANT satellites developed for SFL clients are now in orbit serving applications ranging from maritime ship tracking to radio frequency signal mapping.

“DEFIANT is a scalable platform with the power capabilities and versatility to support a variety of mission objectives, yet it is compact enough to keep launch costs at a manageable level for commercial programs,” said SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee. “SFL is pleased that our microspace technology can be the enabler for Telesat to achieve its demonstration goals for high bandwidth operations in LEO.”

LEO 3 is nearing completion at SFL following a relatively aggressive development schedule. SFL has integrated the communications payload with the LEO 3 bus and successfully completed vibration and electromagnetic compatibility testing of the spacecraft. Additional tests are ongoing.

SFL’s 25-year heritage includes 65 operational successes, with an additional 27 under development or awaiting launch. Missions support a wide range of applications related to Earth observation, atmospheric monitoring, ship tracking, communication, radio frequency (RF) geolocation, technology demonstration, space astronomy, solar physics, space plasma, and other scientific research.

About Telesat

Backed by a legacy of engineering excellence, reliability and industry-leading customer service, Telesat (NASDAQ and TSX: TSAT) is one of the largest and most innovative global satellite operators. Telesat works collaboratively with its customers to deliver critical connectivity solutions that tackle the world’s most complex communications challenges, providing powerful advantages that improve their operations and drive profitable growth.

Continuously innovating to meet the connectivity demands of the future, Telesat Lightspeed, the company’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network, will be the first and only LEO network optimized to meet the rigorous requirements of telecom, government, maritime and aeronautical customers. Telesat Lightspeed will redefine global satellite connectivity with ubiquitous, affordable, high-capacity links with fibre-like speeds. For updates on Telesat, follow us @Telesat on Twitter, LinkedIn, or visit

About Space Flight Laboratory (SFL)

SFL generates bigger returns from smaller, lower cost satellites. Small satellites built by SFL consistently push the performance envelope and disrupt the traditional cost paradigm. Satellites are built with advanced power systems, stringent attitude control and high-volume data capacity that are striking relative to the budget. SFL arranges launches globally and maintains a mission control center accessing ground stations worldwide. The pioneering and barrier-breaking work of SFL is a key enabler to tomorrow’s cost-aggressive satellites and constellations. Follow SFL on Twitter @SFL_SmallerSats.

Media contacts:

Lynette Simmons
+1 613 748 8729

Dr. Robert E. Zee
SFL Director