A major contract for the Montreal plant of satellite antenna manufacturer MDA can finally go ahead now that its client, Telesat, has completed its financial package.
Worth 2.1 billion, this contract, the largest in the history of MDA, allows it to launch a new digital satellite technology, explains the president and chief executive officer of the company, Mike Greenley, in an interview on Friday.
“This contract is so big that it allows us to market this product with a large production volume. This is an excellent starting point that will put us on a good path to sell this product to other customers. »
The agreement provides that 198 satellites will be built in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, on the island of Montreal. The contract includes options to purchase up to 100 additional satellites. These satellites in low orbit will notably make it possible to connect remote regions to the Internet.
“The contract will be executed entirely in Montreal,” confirms Mr. Greenley. It will require the contribution of several hundred employees and require an expansion of our facilities,” he explained.
MDA has enough employees to start production “right now”, assured the leader. “In the next two to three quarters, we will hire a significant number of people because of this contract. Taking into account the Telesat project and future digital satellite contracts, we will add a few hundred new employees. »
Telesat’s first satellites are expected to be sent into orbit in 2026 with a view to offering commercial service in 2027. In 2021, Telesat anticipated a launch in 2023.
A long-awaited project
Telesat had been dangling the project since 2021, but the company did not yet have sufficient funds to confirm the order, despite a promise of financial support of around 2 billion from the federal government and Quebec.
At Telesat, it is explained that the new digital technology will reduce the bill for the project by nearly US$2 billion compared to previous estimates. “This is a significant saving and greatly improves the project’s estimated profitability,” Telesat said in a statement.
Lower costs don’t come with lower quality, Greenley said. “We can adapt the performance of the satellite in real time to target communication where and when the consumer needs it. This gives Telesat great flexibility to offer optimal communication to its customers. »
Overall, the program is worth US$3.5 billion (CA$4.69 billion). Telesat said it will fund the project to the tune of US$1.6 billion (C$2.14 billion).
Investors reacted well to the news, with MDA shares gaining $1.97, or 23.34%, to $10.41 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday morning.