Eutelsat Picks Astrium To Build Ku-band W5A Satellite

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PARIS — Astrium Satellites of Europe will build the Eutelsat all-Ku-band W5A satellite for launch in late 2012 following a contract announced June 30 by the satellite fleet operator.

The announcement came three weeks after Eutelsat awarded a contract to Thales Alenia Space of Europe to build the all-Ku-band W6A satellite and illustrates the Paris-based company’s policy of alternating suppliers, mainly between Europe’s two principal satellite prime contractors.

W5A will be an Astrium Eurostar E3000 platform carrying 48 Ku-band transponders and is expected to weigh about 5,000 kilograms at launch. Operating from 70.5 degrees west, the satellite will be fitted with four fixed beams covering Europe, Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Asia, including Australia.

Eutelsat said offering secure government links over Central Asia is one of the primary markets to be served by W5A, which will replace the smaller W5 satellite currently at the 70.5-degree slot.

W5, launched in 2002, suffered a failure in 2008 of one of its solar arrays, forcing Eutelsat to switch off four of the satellite’s 24 transponders. The switch-off, which bumped New Tang Dynasty TV off the satellite, provoked allegations that Eutelsat was using a technical issue to get rid of a customer that was upsetting Eutelsat’s relations with the Chinese government. Eutelsat denied the charge.

The arrival of W5A will more than double Eutelsat’s capacity at the slot.