Eutelsat Communications has selected Thales Alenia Space to build a 40-transponder Ku-band satellite enabling a 50 percent increase in capacity operated at its 21.5° East location in geostationary orbit. Scheduled for launch in the third quarter of 2012, the satellite will replace Eutelsat's W6 craft at a core neighborhood anchored for data, professional video and government services across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Weighing in at five tons, the new satellite will be based on the Thales Alenia Space Spacebus C3 platform, with a scheduled in-orbit lifetime exceeding 15 years. It will be equipped with one broad footprint sweeping across Europe into North Africa and Central Asia, and two dedicated high-power beams to add increased flexibility for regional coverage of North Africa and the Middle East.

Commenting on the contract, Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO, said, “The combination of power, coverage and flexibility we provide at 21.5° East has enabled Eutelsat to steadily attract ongoing business at this location over 10 years. We have designed our new satellite to further unlock the potential of this sweet spot for data, professional video and government services and are delighted to entrust its construction to Thales Alenia Space, a longstanding industrial partner for Eutelsat.”

“Reynald Seznec, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space, stated, “Our top priority has always been to address the specific requirements of each of our customers so we can deliver the most satisfactory solution in terms of technology, costs and lead-times. With the W6A satellite, we will once again be contributing to Eutelsat’s fleet expansion, and we are delighted to help one of our most important customers meet its objectives.”