Back on March 1st, a SpaceX rocket launched two satellites into orbit. One was Eutelsat’s 115 West B (and ordered as a Sat-Mex satellite), and the other for ABS of Bermuda. Both were ‘all-electric’ satellites built by Boeing. It is now clear that both the satellites will arrive on to their targeted orbital positions a month earlier than first expected.
The ‘all-electric’ design means that the satellites carry significantly less fuel, making them lighter overall and significantly cheaper to launch. The downside is that the satellites use their XENON-ION thrusters to raise themselves to their operational orbit. This takes many months.
The cost-savings come about because the two lighter satellites can share a single launch on a SpaceX rocket, which costs about $60 million per launch.
It has now been confirmed by Eutelsat that its craft will be on orbit in late-September, about a month earlier than expected. The ABS-3A satellite will be on orbit in late-August, again about a month earlier.
Both satellites will then undergo a period of routine in-orbit testing.