ILS Proton Rocket Lofts Eutelsat’s W7 Satellite

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PARIS — An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton-M rocket on Nov. 25 successfully placed into orbit Eutelsat’s W7 satellite — the largest spacecraft ever built for the Paris-based satellite fleet operator and one that will target markets in Russia, Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The 5,627-kilogram W7 will provide up to 70 Ku-band transponders at Eutelsat’s 36 degrees east orbital slot, where it will be co-located with the Eutelsat W4 satellite. Eutelsat’s Sesat 1 spacecraft, which inaugurated the company’s service from that location in 2000, will be moved to another, undisclosed position once W7 enters service in January 2010.

Built by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy, W7 is equipped with five fixed and steerable beams to provide television and telecommunications services to selected areas of sub-Saharan Africa as well as Russia, the Middle East and Central Asia. W7 uses Thales Alenia Space’s Spacebus 4000C4 platform and is designed to provide 13.2 kilowatts of power to the payload at the end of the satellite’s 15-year service life.

Eutelsat said Nov. 25 that the satellite was healthy in orbit and would deploy its antennas early in the week of Nov. 30.

W7 had been scheduled for launch aboard a Sea Launch Co. rocket operated from a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean, but was switched to ILS this summer following Long Beach, Calif.-based Sea Launch’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Reston, Va.-based ILS, which is owned by Proton manufacturer Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, guaranteed Eutelsat that it could fit the W7 into Proton’s already crowded 2009 manifest of commercial and Russian government launches.

The Nov. 25 launch from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was the sixth of seven commercial ILS missions planned for 2009.