Noted with Irony

We read with interest the article “Nonprofit Group Records Conversation To Show How Firms Cater to the Chinese” in the July 21 issue of Space News [page 4]. We feel it is necessary to respond to this article as we consider that readers may not understand what we believe must be a note of irony from such an experienced and respected journalist as Peter de Selding.

Using elements from an alleged conversation strangely indicated as being in “a Chinese dialect” conducted between a local employee operating as a temporary secretary in Eutelsat‘s representative office in Beijing, and a person falsely presenting himself as a representative of China’s “Central Propaganda Department,” the article purports that Eutelsat may have imagined some benefit from its W5 satellite going out of service. Beyond the obvious technical impossibility of a missile destroying a satellite in geostationary orbit, it is frankly beyond the boundaries of reason to imagine that Eutelsat could wish that one of its most productive satellites, with a 100 percent filling factor, could be put out of service.

We also think that Peter, of all people, must have picked up on glaring errors in the alleged conversation by a junior-level employee clearly without the basics, who is too keen to please another person believed to be in a position of high authority. These stretch from incorrect figures for the number of transponders on W5 to non-existent coverage zones on the Hot Bird satellites and information on the value of satellite contracts, which we are sure Peter appreciates that Eutelsat, as all other operators, treat as extremely confidential data disclosed to only a highly select number of people in our company.

For the record, we would like to make it clear that following the investigation conducted in collaboration with ThalesAlenia Space into the technical anomaly on W5, the satellite has permanently lost use of its north solar array, and by consequence 50 percent of its total available power. In view of this irreversible loss of power and following our standard practices, four transponders have been switched off to date to preserve the satellite’s commercial mission to the largest extent possible. We do not exclude the need to switch-off an additional transponder in order to preserve power margins, particularly since we will shortly be entering the eclipse period. We regret the inconvenience caused to clients by this incident and that the loss of capacity to the only satellite in our fleet serving the Far East curbs the possibility for commercial development in a region with strong growth potential.

We would also like to underline that the article fails to draw attention to the efforts made by Eutelsat to

our client, RR Sat, with a list of capacity available on alternative satellites, which could enable NTDTV to resume broadcasts over
South East Asia
. Whereas Eutelsat has no available capacity serving this region since the W5 incident, we have confirmation that there are satellites operated by other companies with available capacity, and that there consequently need be no obstacle to a restoration of service in the Asian region. To illustrate the potential to transfer to an alternative satellite company, EuroNews, which was also affected by the loss of capacity on W5, has since restored service over

Finally, in its role as a satellite operator, Eutelsat reiterates that it has no authority to exercise control over the content or data transported through capacity leased by clients on its satellites, and indeed is legally barred from doing so.

Vanessa O’Connor

Corporate Communications Director, Eutelsat