Airbus confirms HOTBIRD replacement deal

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Confirming the news that UK interests are to play a significant role in their construction, aeronautics specialist Airbus has been selected by satellite operator Eutelsat to build two HOTBIRD new-generation telecommunication satellites that will replace the current spacecraft and enhance capacity at Eutelsat’s premium broadcasting position 13° East.

The two satellites will deliver improved performances over the European and Middle-Eastern footprint, reinforced by a powerful European Superbeam.

They will ensure full service continuity over the operational 102 Ku-band transponders/frequencies, secure deployment and capacity redundancy at the HOTBIRD position. The HOTBIRD fleet forms one of the largest broadcasting systems in Europe, broadcasting 1,000 television channels to more than 135 million homes in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The new spacecraft will be based on the Eurostar Neo platform, Airbus’ new geostationary telecommunications satellite standard design, a significant evolution of the highly reliable and successful Eurostar series with an entire range of major innovations. Eurostar Neo combines increased payload capacity and more efficient power and thermal control systems with reduced production time and optimized costs.

The satellites combine electric power of 22 kW with a launch mass of only 4,500 kg, thanks to the EOR (Electric Orbit Raising) version of the Eurostar Neo platform.

Scheduled for launch in 2021, they will be the ninth and 10th high power all electric Eurostar satellites, harnessing multiple electric propulsion thrusters for faster orbit raising and on-station manoeuvres.

“The continuing confidence of Eutelsat in our products means that they are now the launch customer for Eurostar Neo which will be our new flagship telecommunications satellite,” advised Nicolas Chamussy, Head of Space Systems at Airbus. “They have been our key partner for most of our firsts, including Eurostar E2000+ and Eurostar E3000, as well as electric orbit raising.”

“We are delighted to sign this contract with our long term partner Airbus,” added Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer. “It marks another milestone in our objectives to provide customers with premium satellite technology with the highest level of performance, and to expand reliability and service security at the 13 degrees position, which has been our leading neighbourhood for over 20 years, serving Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.”

According to Eutelsat, the state-of-the-art technology enables it to replace the current constellation of three satellites by two, further enhancing the capex optimisation achieved through the application of the design-to-cost policy.

The procurement is fully covered by the company’s existing capex budget.


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