Airbus Defence and Space has been awarded a contract by Eutelsat, one of the world’s leading satellite operators, to design and build a highly innovative high-performance (hosting a C-band, a Ku-band and a high throughput payload) telecommunications satellite. The new satellite will be launched in the first half of 2017, making it the first European satellite to demonstrate electric propulsion for orbit raising.

EUTELSAT 172B is based on the highly reliable Eurostar E3000 platform from Airbus Defence and Space, representing its latest evolution Electric Orbit Raising (EOR). This version uses only electric propulsion for initial orbit raising and all on-orbit manoeuvres, with the reduction in mass enabling the powerful satellite to be launched with the Ariane 5 lower position, offering lower launch costs.

The satellite will have electric power of 13 kW, with a launch weight of only 3,500 kg. It also incorporates other state-of-the-art solutions, in particular the flexibility to dynamically distribute power between the set of beams connected to its high throughput payload.

EUTELSAT 172B will host three distinct payloads. The first is a C-band payload of 14 physical transponders delivering increased power and broader coverage to enhance service and tap into new growth markets in South East Asia. The second is a regular Ku-band payload of 36 physical transponders that will more than double capacity at 172° East. Transponders will be connected to five improved service areas: North Pacific, North East Asia, South East Pacific, South West Pacific and South Pacific.

The third is a high throughput Ku-band payload specifically designed for in-flight broadband, featuring multiple user spots optimised to serve densely-used Asian and trans-Pacific flight paths and interconnected to gateways operating in the Ka band. This new payload will be the first customised for in-flight connectivity over the Pacific Ocean Region, delivering an overall throughput of 1.8 Gbps to an underserved market forecast to enjoy sustained growth over the coming years.