Eutelsat Communications has announced that it has signed a contract with International Launch Services (ILS) for the launch in mid-November 2009 of the W7 satellite on an ILS Proton. Built by Thales Alenia Space, the satellite will now undergo final preparation for delivery to the Baikonour Cosmodrome.
Originally scheduled for launch by Sea Launch, this selection of Proton follows the confirmation to Eutelsat by Sea Launch of their unavailability to orbit W7 within the agreed timeframe.
The decision to launch with ILS and Khrunichev was taken on the basis of their commitment to meeting Eutelsat’s critical timeframe to launch W7 in mid-November, enabling Eutelsat to bring the satellite into service by the end of 2009. Eutelsat is meanwhile continuing discussions with Sea Launch with a view to assigning the launch originally assigned for W7 to a future Eutelsat satellite.
Commenting on this reorganisation, Giuliano Berretta, Eutelsat Chairman and CEO said: “Timely access to space is an essential component of Eutelsat’s significant satellite expansion programme of nine satellites to launch between 2008 and 2011, and most particularly in the case of W7.
With the first three of these new satellites already delivered into orbit by Ariane and the fourth by Proton, Arianespace and ILS have provided us with flawless service, further consolidating our appreciation of the Ariane 5 and Proton vehicles. Concerning Sea Launch, we firmly intend to pursue our discussions with the shared objective of delivering future Eutelsat spacecraft into orbit.”
W7 will be colocated with W4 at 36 degrees East to double resources at one of Eutelsat’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods. Through a configuration of 70 transponders connected to high-performance fixed and steerable beams, the new satellite will provide coverage of Russia and sub-Saharan Africa for digital broadcasting services, including pay-TV, and add flexibility for growing markets in central Asia.
W7 will also assume all traffic on Eutelsat’s 18-transponder SESAT 1 satellite which is currently positioned at 36 degrees East and which will subsequently continue in commercial service at an alternative location.