Fuel leak cripples Eutelsat W3B after faultless launch
Alex Lane -

A fuel leak has crippled Eutelsat's latest spacecraft within hours of its launch.

An anomaly was detected in W3Bís propulsion system last night after it separated from the Ariane 5 launcher.

Operators soon determined that one of its two fuel tanks had a significant leak, altough what caused theleak remains unknown.

The satellite was due to replace Eurobird 16, W2M and Sesat 1 at 16E; they will now remain on station until W3C arrives in mid-2011.

Eutelsat has begun planning a replacement craft, W3D, for launch in the first half of 2013.

Michel de Rosen, CEO of Eutelsat Communications, said: '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 16į East in mid-2011 and on initiating a new programme to compensate for this loss.'

The next scheduled launch for Eutelsat will be Ka-Sat in December, aboard a Proton rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

W3B's co-payload, BSAT-3b for Japan's B-SAT TV service, has not reported any problems.