Eutelsat commissions W3D satellite
By Robert Briel
Published: December 3, 2010 14.29 Europe/London

Eutelsat has announced that Thales Alenia Space has been commissioned to build the W3D satellite that will replace the W3B spacecraft lost after its launch on October 28. The delivery schedule of the new 56-transponder satellite has been fixed to 24 months, enabling Eutelsat to plan for commercial availability from early 2013.

Based on the Spacebus 4000 platform of Thales Alenia Space, W3D will be copositioned with Eutelsat’s W3A satellite at 7° East to expand operational capacity at this longstanding location to 70 transponders from 44. These additional resources will enable existing customers to expand their business, will increase in-orbit security and inject new capacity to 7° East to capture business opportunities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO, said in a statement: “Working in close collaboration with industry, Eutelsat is now pushing ahead with timely delivery of W3C to 16° East in mid-2011 and has started the clock on the W3D programme which will be completed in 24 months. Our clear objective is to apply to both programmes all appropriate recommendations of the Inquiry Board currently investigating the loss of W3B. Even as the Inquiry Board continues its work, we are already implementing measures to tighten control of industry’s manufacturing processes.”

W3D satellite will deliver three key coverage zones: High-power Ku-band coverage of Europe with a beam centred over Central Europe and Turkey particularly optimised for Direct-to-Home (DTH) reception; Extensive coverage across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East as far as Central Asia, via a Ku-band beam for professional video links and data networks; Ku-band coverage of Sub-Saharan Africa and Indian Ocean islands for regional telecommunications and Internet services. Interconnection with Europe will also be possible with the African coverage through a combination of Ka-band frequencies in Europe and Ku-band frequencies in Africa.

From a financial standpoint, W3D replaces the W3B satellite programme that was fully covered by insurance.