LE BOURGET, France — Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat will launch its Eutelsat 3B C-, Ku- and Ka-band telecommunications satellite aboard a Sea Launch AG rocket from Sea Launch’s floating platform in the Pacific Ocean next April under a contract announced June 18 by both companies.
Paris-based Eutelsat, the world’s third-largest commercial satellite operator by revenue, has been one of Sea Launch’s regular customers as the Bern, Switzerland-based commercial launch provider struggles with supply chain issues and returns to regular operations following a January 2013 failure that destroyed a $400 million Intelsat satellite. The Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket successfully placed Eutelsat satellites into orbit in 2011 and 2012.
The commercial manifests of the two principal providers, Arianespace of Europe and International Launch Services (ILS) of the United States and Russia, are now advertised as full in the coming months, giving Sea Launch an opening to return to its former position as a regular third source of launches for commercial operators. Sea Launch specializes in the heavier end of the commercial telecommunications satellite market.
Eutelsat 3B, now under construction by Astrium Satellites of Europe, is expected to weigh more than 6,000 kilograms at launch and to operate at Eutelsat’s 3 degrees east orbital slot, where it will provide video and data services to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and South America.