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W3B satellite loss will soon be replaced with W3C

Eutelsat issued a statement on the loss of W3B satellite on 29 October 2010. The satellite operator announced the loss of its satellite, following an anomaly which was detected on the satellite’s propulsion subsystem after its launch by an Ariane 5 rocket.

W3B was scheduled to be located at 16° East to replace Eutelsat’s Eurobird 16, W2M and SESAT 1 satellites. With the loss of W3B, the three satellites will now remain in full service at 16° East until the arrival of W3C, whose launch is on track for mid-2011. Eutelsat will also immediately initiate a new satellite programme, called W3D, for a planned launch in the first quarter of 2013.

Michel de Rosen, CEO of Eutelsat Communications, commented: “The loss of W3B is a disappointment for Eutelsat and for our customers. We share it with our partners, in particular Thales Alenia Space and with the insurance community. Our attention is now focused on delivering the W3C satellite to 16° East in mid-2011 and on initiating a new programme to compensate for this loss.”

Eutelsat is fully insured for the investment in W3B, which guarantees that the Group does not incur any direct financial loss. The non-availability of W3B does not change the financial guidance issued by the company on 30 July 2010.

At the end of October 2010, speaking in Kourou after the launch, Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO, commented: “Tonight’s W3B launch opens a new chapter at our 16° East location, which is already the chosen neighbourhood for over 400 television channels, making it one of our four fastest-growing video positions. The increased capacity and expanded coverage of our new satellite will enable Eutelsat to further raise quality of service and expand the offer provided from a position reaching into our core markets of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Our thanks go to our longstanding industrial partners, Arianespace, to whom we entrusted our 25th satellite with tonight’s launch, and Thales Alenia Space for delivering on this sophisticated and exciting programme.”

Scheduled to enter service at 16° East in December this year, W3B was due to replace Eutelsat’s Eurobird 16, W2M and SESAT 1 satellites. Following the transfer to W3B of all existing traffic, each of the three satellites were going to be redeployed to an alternative position.

Through its configuration of up to 56 transponders, including three in Ka, W3B was available to address two key markets driving the digital economy: broadcasting and telecom/data services. High-power coverage over Indian Ocean islands was also going to support expansion of pay-TV, which reaches into almost 400,000 homes, and accelerate digital switchover in Mauritius and Reunion Island.

To address the market for telecoms and data services, W3B was going to initiate a new mission for sub-Saharan Africa, through coverage stretching from Senegal to South Africa and enabling connectivity with Europe. This new capacity responds to high-growth applications including GSM backhaul and Internet access for enterprises, public agencies and consumers.

Lift-off of the Ariane 5 ECA rocket carrying W3B was at 18:51 local time in French Guiana (21:51 GMT, 23:51 Paris time) on 28 October. Separation of the satellite from the launch vehicle took place 28 minutes after lift-off. Operations needed to circularise the new satellite’s orbit, place it into its operational configuration and carry out in-orbit testing will be controlled by Eutelsat from its satellite control centre at the Rambouillet teleport (near Paris), using a global network of earth stations.

The next Eutelsat satellite on the launch-pad is KA-SAT, Europe’s first High Throughput Satellite, which is scheduled for launch in December this year. This will be followed in 2011 by W3C and Atlantic Bird 7, in 2012 by W5A and W6A, and in 2013 by the Eurobird 2A satellite, which will be jointly owned and operated with ictQatar. The investment programme of seven new satellites will boost Eutelsat’s resources by 25 per cent.

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