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Eutelsat 36D readies for launch

March 5, 2024

By Chris Forrester

Eutelsat’s latest satellite has appeared in the list of craft due for launch by SpaceX. The satellite will launch towards the end of March. The launch is something of a surprise and has not formally been announced by Eutelsat.

Eutelsat 36D is based on Airbus’ Eurostar-Neo satellite bus, and weighs approximately 5,000kg. It will be positioned at 36° East, where it will be replacing Eutelsat 36B which will reach the end of its lifespan in 2026.

The satellite was ordered from Airbus in 2021 with 70 physical Ku-band transponders, the all-electric EUTELSAT 36D will assure all the main legacy missions of EUTELSAT 36B, with enhancements to coverage areas and performance. The electric craft will take some months to reach its operational position.

With coverage of Africa, Russia and Europe, 36° East is a key orbital slot. Its two existing satellites, EUTELSAT 36B and EUTELSAT 36C, together notably support the broadcast businesses of major anchor customers including Multichoice and ZAP in Africa and were until recently handling signals for Tricolor and NTV+ in Russia.

Space watcher C H Lukas, in a Tweet/X, suggests that in reality Eutelsat has had little option but to select SpaceX given that the ULA’s Atlas launches are “sold out”, and there are no Ariane 5 launches left – and Ariane 6 will not be ready until 2025. Eutelsat’s 36D is too heavy for India’s LVM3 rocket.

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