Eutelsat Communications (NYSE Euronext Paris: ETL) today announced it has sealed procurement and launch contracts with Airbus Defence and Space and Arianespace for the EUTELSAT 172B satellite.

As an early follow-on programme to EUTELSAT 172A, the new triple mission satellite will provide continuity and expansion capacity at Eutelsat’s 172° East orbital position that is a prime gateway for services in the Asia Pacific region.

The 3.5 tonne satellite to be manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space will be launched by an Ariane 5 rocket in first half 2017 and will use electric propulsion for initial in-orbit raising and all station-keeping manoeuvres. The reduction in mass will enable this powerful (13 kW) satellite to be launched with the Ariane 5 lower position, offering lower launch costs. In-orbit raising is expected to take approximately four months.

EUTELSAT 172B will host regular C-band and Ku-band payloads. It will also host the Pacific Ocean Region's first Ku-band High Throughput payload which Panasonic Avionics Corporation has already selected as its key growth platform for in-flight broadband and live TV for commercial airlines on trans-Pacific and Asian routes.

The procurement contracts announced with Airbus Defence and Space and Arianespace, two leading players in the European space industry, reflect Eutelsat’s commitment to innovation that contributes to increasing competitivity and improving customer service. In addition to electric propulsion for in-orbit raising, EUTELSAT 172B will be Eutelsat’s first satellite equipped to dynamically distribute power between beams connected to its High Throughput payload. This facility will enable Eutelsat to respond to traffic variations across the eight time zones covered by the payload’s 11 beams that span from the Western seaboard of North America to South-East Asia.

Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat Chairman and CEO, said: “With the allocation of the contracts to manufacture and launch EUTELSAT 172B awarded to Airbus Defence and Space and Arianespace, we are placing our trust once again in two industry leaders who understand our rigour and high expectations. Through a combination of three distinct payloads, electric propulsion and dynamic power distribution, EUTELSAT 172B reflects our commitment to innovations that benefit our customers and raises the game for the satellite business.”