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31 July 2014
Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space to build EUTELSAT 172B, first European satellite to perform electric orbit raising

EUTELSAT 172B, the first European satellite to demonstrate electric propulsion for orbit raising

Due for launch in first half 2017, this satellite will combine high performances and lower launch costs New order consolidates Airbus Defence and Space’s position as a global leader in the field of electric satellites

Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, has just been awarded a contract by Eutelsat, one of the world’s leading satellite operators, to design and build a highly innovative high-performance (hosting a C-band, a Ku-band and a high throughput payload) telecommunications satellite.

The new satellite will be launched in first half 2017, making it the first European satellite to demonstrate electric propulsion for orbit raising.

EUTELSAT 172B is based on the highly reliable Eurostar E3000 platform from Airbus Defence and Space, representing its latest evolution EOR (Electric Orbit Raising). This version uses only electric propulsion for initial orbit raising and all on-orbit manoeuvres, with the reduction in mass enabling the powerful satellite to be launched with the Ariane 5 lower position, offering lower launch costs. In-orbit raising is expected to take approximately four months.

“Once again Eutelsat has proved its confidence in the innovative technologies and solutions we propose, using the benefits of these advances for improving customer service in its markets,” said François Auque, Head of Space Systems. “This new order consolidates Airbus Defence and Space’s position as a global leader in the field of electric satellites.”

The satellite will have electric power of 13 kW, with a launch weight of only 3,500 kg. It also incorporates other state-of-the-art solutions, in particular the flexibility to dynamically distribute power between the set of beams connected to its high throughput payload.

“We are the first in Europe, and even the first in the world, to demonstrate electric propulsion for satellites of this size”, said Eric Béranger, Head of Space Systems programmes. “Our expertise paves the way for launching powerful and complex satellites in the most cost efficient manner”.

EUTELSAT 172B will host three distinct payloads:

  • A C-band payload of 14 physical transponders delivering increased power and broader coverage to enhance service and tap into new growth markets in South East Asia.
  • A regular Ku-band payload of 36 physical transponders that will more than double capacity at 172° East. Transponders will be connected to five improved service areas: North Pacific, North East Asia, South East Pacific, South West Pacific and South Pacific.
  • A high throughput Ku-band payload specifically designed for in-flight broadband, featuring multiple user spots optimised to serve densely-used Asian and trans-Pacific flight paths and interconnected to gateways operating in the Ka band. This new payload will be the first customised for in-flight connectivity over the Pacific Ocean Region, delivering an overall throughput of 1.8 Gbps to an underserved market forecast to enjoy sustained growth over the coming years.

About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs some 40,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €14 billion per year.

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