New satellites often slip with their launch dates a month or two and such delays are more usually because of the availability – or non-availability – of their rocket launch.
However, Eutelsat’s latest satellite, its Eutelsat ‘Quantum’ craft is reportedly delayed significantly to later next year, and well over a year later than planned. Originally it was expected to launch later this year and to be on station – and earning its keep – prior to the operator’s end-of-financial year (June 30th).
As recently as May this year Eutelsat was anticipating a late-2019 launch for Quantum and while this was later than expected the reason was precisely because of the availability of its Ariane rocket.
Eutelsat’s satellite is exceedingly versatile and has been called a ‘chameleon’ craft such is its flexibility. It is a software-defined satellite and where the technology is reprogrammable from a ground-based control centre.
The satellite is itself a joint-venture (strictly speaking a Public /Private partnership) between Eutelsat, Airbus and the European Space Agency (ESA). According to a report from industry publication Space Intel Report, ESA put some €71 million into the project.
The delay has had a significant impact on Eutelsat’s revenue plans. The operator has a safe client already booked for much of Quantum’s capacity (US defence contractor Peraton) and likely to generate around €40 million annually.