Gone but not forgotten, that's the story about the W3B spacecraft that was lost after its launch this year on October 28. Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL), announced that Thales Alenia Space has been commissioned to build the W3D satellite that will replace the W3B spacecraft. 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. Financially the W3D replaces the W3B satellite program that was fully covered by insurance.

Based on the Spacebus 4000 platform of Thales Alenia Space, W3D will be copositioned with Eutelsat’s W3A satellite at 7 degrees 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 degrees East to capture business opportunities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

Commenting on the order, Eutelsat CEO, Michel de Rosen, said: “Working in close collaboration with industry, Eutelsat is now pushing ahead with timely delivery of W3C to 16 degrees East in mid-2011 and has started the clock on the W3D program which will be completed in 24 months. Our clear objective is to apply to both programs 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.”