Eutelsat loses LatAm satellite
February 5, 2024
By Chris Forrester
Eutelsat’s Latino satellite, Eutelsat 113 West A, suffered a major malfunction on January 31st and was declared a total loss on February 2nd.
The satellite was reportedly earning Eutelsat about €3 million a year in carriage contracts. Many, if not all of its existing clients, will be shifted to nearby satellites operated by Eutelsat in the 114.9 and 116.8 degrees positions.
Eutelsat 113 West A was built by Maxar Technologies and launched in 2006 and with a design life of 15 years. In other words, the craft was already well past its planned life and for the past few years was operating in an inclined orbit. Its footprint covered the whole of South America as well as North America in C-band.
The satellite came into Eutelsat’s ownership when the Paris-based operator bought the SatMex assets (Satélites Mexicanos, where the satellite was named SatMex 6) in 2014 for $831 million plus SatMex debt in a transaction worth in total $1,142 million.
SatMex 6 served customers in video, data, and Government services on 18 operational transponders.
“Mitigation actions are underway to minimise the disruption to customers impacted, including accelerated transfer to alternative capacity on our satellites located at the 114.9° and 116.8° West positions,” said Eutelsat.
Ground-based observations suggest that the craft lost its attitude control, and thus seems to have started spinning or tumbling.
“Approaching its end-of-life, the satellite is no longer part of the In Orbit Insurance policy. Before mitigation, the mechanical impact on revenues of the non-availability of the satellite is circa €3 million in FY24 and €5-6 million per annum for the period FY25-28. It does not alter our financial objectives for FY 2024,” said Eutelsat.
One expert noted the loss was “unfortunate” given that Eutelsat could have had the FCC fund its replacement as part of the FCC’s C-band compensation scheme, but for some treason Eutelsat decided against that option.