The EUTELSAT 3D satellite of Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) has been successfully launched by a Proton Breeze M rocket supplied by ILS and is now on its way to its operating location at 3° East.

Lift-off of the satellite, built by Thales Alenia Space, took place on 14 May at 16.02 GMT (18.02 CET). Following a 9-hour 13-minute flight, Proton released EUTELSAT 3D into geosynchronous transfer orbit. The partial deployment of the satellite’s solar panels was successfully carried out from Eutelsat’s control centre in Rambouillet three hours and 15 minutes after separation from the rocket.

Eutelsat also announces that it has signed a new launch contract with ILS for a satellite to be launched in the 2014-2016 timeframe. This will be the eighth satellite to be launched for Eutelsat by the Proton launcher.

Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO, said: “We are delighted to confirm that EUTELSAT 3D is on its way to 3° East. From next month, this new satellite will take service at 3° East to a new level in advance of the launch in 2014 of EUTELSAT 3B. Our thanks to Thales Alenia Space for delivering our new satellite and to ILS and Khrunichev for this flight which maintains our track record of 100% success since our first Proton launch in 2000. We are pleased to renew our confidence in the powerful Proton launcher with a new contract that gives us the scope to increase our operational agility, a key asset in our business.”

ILS President Phil Slack added: “The Proton vehicle and Eutelsat partnership dates back 13 years starting with the SESAT 1 launch on Proton in 2000. After seven launches, including the 50th ILS Proton launch in 2009 with the EUTELSAT 10A satellite, we are honoured that Eutelsat continues to place their trust in us to enable the expansion of their business. Many thanks to the Eutelsat, Thales Alenia Space, Khrunichev and ILS teams for ensuring mission success with the launch of EUTELSAT 3D.”

With a baseline design equipping it to strengthen Eutelsat’s overall in-orbit flexibility and back-up from multiple orbital slots, EUTELSAT 3D will be initially located at 3° East to address high-growth video, data, telecom and broadband markets. It will serve customers in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia through a configuration of Ku and Ka transponders connected to three footprints. A fourth service area in the Ku-band will serve markets in sub-Saharan Africa. EUTELSAT 3D will operate at 3° East until the deployment of the EUTELSAT 3B satellite to this position in 2014 to provide spectrum growth and high levels of operational flexibility in C, Ku and Ka bands. It will subsequently continue service at 7° East.

EUTELSAT 3D was built for Eutelsat by Thales Alenia Space using its established Spacebus 4000 platform. The satellite is designed to operate in orbit for 15 years.