Eutelsat loses W3B craft

Despite having declared the launch of its W3B satellite “a success”, satellite operator Eutelsat Communications has subsequently confirmed the loss of the W3B satellite following an anomaly which was detected on the satellite’s propulsion subsystem after its launch by an Ariane 5 rocket.

W3B was scheduled to be located at 16° East to replace Eutelsat’s EUROBIRD™ 16, W2M and SESAT 1 satellites. With the loss of W3B, the three satellites will now remain in full service at 16° East until the arrival of W3C, whose launch is on track for mid-2011. Eutelsat has confirmed that it will also immediately initiate a new satellite programme, called W3D, for a planned launch in the first quarter of 2013.

Michel de Rosen, CEO of Eutelsat Communications, said the loss of W3B was a disappointment for Eutelsat and for its customers. “We share it with our partners, in particular Thales Alenia Space and with the insurance community. Our attention is now focused on delivering the W3C satellite to 16° East in mid-2011 and on initiating a new programme to compensate for this loss.”

The increased capacity and expanded coverage of the lost craft was designed to enable Eutelsat to further raise quality of service and expand the offer provided from a position reaching into its core markets of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Eutelsat is fully insured for the investment in W3B, which guarantees that the Group does not incur any direct financial loss. The non-availability of W3B does not change the financial guidance issued by the company on 30 July 2010.

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