Nouveau Nom: Eutelesat


Note: You’re going to have to read through to the end to understand how the picture above relates to the headline of this post. 

Two weeks ago we wrote about Eutelsat and Viasat teaming up to deliver broadband via satellite to the U.S. and Canadian markets. Telesat is playing a key role in that project:

 ViaSat has executed a contract with Space Systems/Loral, a subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications, to build ViaSat-1, which is expected to be the world’s highest capacity broadband satellite…..

ViaSat-1, with a launch planned for early 2011, involves a collaborative effort with top satellite broadband leaders in the market including Loral, Telesat, and Eutelsat. Loral is investing in the Canadian coverage portion of the satellite in anticipation of Telesat using this capacity for the provision of broadband services throughout Canada. The satellite is planned for the Telesat 115 West longitude orbital slot as part of the agreement. Telesat will provide telemetry, tracking & control (TT&C) operations for the satellite.

Now comes news that Eutelsat and Telesat could merge, if one reads the tea leaves correctly in this interview with Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg in Satellite Today (subscription required):

Some industry observers have proposed a linkup between Telesat and Eutelsat, the third largest communications satellite operator.

“Telesat and Eutelsat are complementary businesses that would fit together well, but I would say that Eutelsat has a lot of growth opportunities that they are pursuing,” he said. “I watch what they are doing with great interest, including their Ka-band activities and their S-band plans. They have a lot of opportunities they are focused on. We have a lot of opportunities that we are focused on. I would say while there are lots of good theoretical combinations that might exist out there, all of us are focused on the here and now and growing our businesses, and if there is value to be created for shareholders and we can all effectively serve our customers by considering some consolidation opportunities in the future, I’m sure everyone will be pragmatic about that going forward.”

Will it happen? Who can say? As Goldberg points out, however, 2008 is likely to be a breakout year for satellite broadband, and such rapidly growing markets tend to transform the market players.

In other Telesat news, "Lockheed Martin has announced that it will be farming out $175-million-worth of work to Ontario companies in connection with the federal government’s purchase of its Super Hercules aircraft….

"Telesat Canada would be one of the Ontario companies set to benefit from the commitments to the region, with Lockheed Martin using Telesat’s WAAS GCCS Signals in Space services," according to the Ottawa Business Journal (and thus explaining the picture above).

UPDATE (1/29/2008, 11:45am): While we were talking about Canada, I should have mentioned that, well, Canada’s space program is in total crisis:

Imagine getting news that the space operations of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, including the shuttle and military space programs, had been sold to a corporation based in Europe. Imagine further that this startling news is followed the next day by the announcement that the administrator of NASA has suddenly resigned after just a few months on the job.

The scenario is playing out for our neighbor to the North: Canada’s largest space contractor, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., announced it was selling all of its space operations to Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) of Edina, Minnesota, for $1.3 billion; and the president of the Canadian Space Agency (and the former CEO of Telesat), Laurier Boisvert, resigned after just nine months on the job. Ouch.