Satellite fleet operators Eutelsat of Paris, and Moscow’s Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC) announced May 10 they would join forces on a new satellite to be launched in 2015 into the 36 degrees east orbital slot at which they already share resources.
Under the new agreement, Eutelsat will finance construction of the satellite, which will be launched as part of the Russian Federal Space Program and thus will be eligible for ruble-based launch prices, likely on a Proton rocket, which are generally less expensive than launch services purchased on the open commercial market.
The companies did not disclose details on the satellite’s size or how much of the capacity would be devoted to coverage over Russia using Russian-registered frequencies, and how much to Eutelsat.
Eutelsat currently operates two satellites at 36 degrees east. The W4 spacecraft, carrying 31 transponders — 19 for Russian broadcasts — was launched in 2000. The new spacecraft will be in orbit in time to replace W4, which also carries six transponders on a fixed beam over Africa, and six transponders on a steerable beam, also for African coverage.
Eutelsat’s W7 satellite, carrying 70 Ku-band transponders, has been stationed at 36 degrees east since its launch in November 2009.