Eutelsat’s Atlantic Bird 7 has been successfully delivered into orbit by a Zenit-3SL rocket operated by Sea Launch AG from the ocean-based Odyssey Launch Platform in international waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Lift-off of the rocket carrying the Astrium-built 4.6 tonne satellite took place on Saturday 24 September at 20:18 GMT (22:18 CET). After a one-hour seven-minute flight, the Zenit-3SL booster released Atlantic Bird 7 into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Partial deployment of the solar array, commanded by Eutelsat from its teleport in Rambouillet, was successfully completed within three hours of separation.
Atlantic Bird 7 will operate from 7 degrees West, seen as a key video neighbourhood delivering Arab and international channels into almost 30 million satellite homes across North Africa and the Middle East. Eutelsat operates from the orbital slot in close collaboration with the Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat, which manages its own system of three satellites at this location.
Following early orbit operations which are managed by Eutelsat and Astrium engineers, and which include circularising the satellite’s orbit and deploying the antennas, Atlantic Bird 7 will undergo a full series of in-orbit tests. It will be moved to 7 degrees West in the second half of October to assume broadcasting of the 370 digital and High-Definition channels already delivered from this position by Eutelsat’s Atlantic Bird 4A satellite. With up to 50 transponders, 11 more than Atlantic Bird 4A, it will also open opportunities for further business development in high-growth markets. Two beams will give superior coverage across the Middle East, North Africa and North-West Africa.
Following Atlantic Bird 7’s entry into service, Atlantic Bird 4A will be redeployed to an alternative location where it will remain in full commercial service.
Eutelsat CEO, Michel de Rosen said the new satellite would deliver headroom for expansion at one of Eutelsat’s fastest growing video neighbourhoods, serving vibrant TV markets in North Africa and the Middle East. “It underscores our ambition to make a long-term commitment to digital broadcasting markets in the region and to team with key players to deliver first-class service, Today’s launch also represents a new step forward in Eutelsat’s significant in-orbit expansion programme. Our W3C satellite is scheduled for launch next month, with five further satellites to follow into space by early 2014 that will collectively increase our resources by twenty per cent,” he advised.
Based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, and with a scheduled in-orbit lifetime exceeding 15 years, Atlantic Bird 7 is the 20th satellite ordered by Eutelsat from Astrium.