A Proton rocket blasted off from its Baikonur, Kazakhstan cosmodrome on October 9th on a long journey to orbit, with two important satellite passengers on board.
Lift-off was on time at 10.17 UTC with Eutelsat 5 West B and Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV)-1 on board. The pair were in an initial super-synchronous orbit and travelled for almost 16 hours before separation of the two satellites.
The MEV-1 so-called ‘rescue tug’ will take some 3 months to get to a position where it will itself capture Intelsat 901 and then – if all goes according to plan – replace I-901 into a conventional geostationary orbit. I-901 has been in orbit for 18 years and well beyond its normally expected lifetime.
Eutelsat’s 5-WB will be located at 5 degrees West and will continue providing DTH television for Europe and North Africa. The Eutelsat craft was the first to detach itself at 15 hours 36 minutes (at 04.53 am Moscow time on October 10th). MEV-1 followed at 05.12am Moscow time.
This is the 17th successive launch for this particular Proton-M variant.
Sami Kassab, a media analyst at investment bank Exane/BNPP, said the launch of Eutelsat 5 West B helps reduce the top line risk as this satellite carries the Egnos payload, a service that will generate c€7 million pa of revenues for Eutelsat for the next 15 years. That is about 4 per cent of Eutelsat Government divisional revenues in FY19. “We expect the asset to enter into service and the related revenues to be recognised from mid-November onwards. We expect a slightly positive share price reaction and rate Eutelsat positively.”