Eutelsat W5 loses another transponder

Eutelsat W5 satellite, which back in June suffered a major power-failure, has lost a fifth transponder. This is the satellite that has caused Eutelsat more than a little publicity over the closure of a controversial Chinese channel.

Following the failure of one of W5’s two solar panels on June 16, satellite builders Thales Alenia initiated an inquiry board to determine the cause of the problem, and has now issued its findings. Thales Alenia and Eutelsat, in a statement Sept 3, said the incident has reduced the satellite’s service life by some three years.

“The companies have paid particular attention to preparing for the upcoming eclipse, in order to guarantee correct satellite operation during this period. To maintain current operating conditions, another transponder will be shut down, thus providing the additional margin needed for thermal control and battery charging.

Eutelsat W5 was launched in 2002 to the 70.5 deg East position. It originally had 24 operating transponders and had a design life of 12 years. It hasn’t been the luckiest of satellites. Originally built as Eutelsat W1, it was damaged by a sprinkler problem at the – then – Aerospatiale satellite facility in Cannes, France. The craft was immediately dubbed “Wet-sat” by the industry, and was subject to a $50m insurance claim.