PARIS, Nov. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The EUTELSAT 21B satellite of Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) was lofted into space tonight by an Ariane 5 rocket (Flight VA210) from Kourou, French Guiana.
Lift-off occurred bang on time, at 21.05 GMT (on 10 November). Separation of the satellite from the launch vehicle occurred 28 minutes later. Manoeuvres to circularise the new satellite's orbit and place it into its operational configuration are now underway, managed by Eutelsat from its Rambouillet teleport, using a global network of earth stations. This will be followed by in-orbit testing before EUTELSAT 21B enters full commercial service in mid-December.
Commenting after launch and first manoeuvres, Eutelsat CEO, Michel de Rosen said: "EUTELSAT 21B is the first of seven satellites we will launch by mid-2015 to increase our commercial flexibility and our overall resources by almost 30%. We are delighted to see this new satellite on its way to an orbital location that is a point of reference for customers providing professional video, data and government applications in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. We thank Arianespace for this 26th launch and Thales Alenia Space for this 20th spacecraft for Eutelsat."
The 40-transponder EUTELSAT 21B Ku-band satellite will occupy the 21.5 degrees East position. Developed by Eutelsat since 1999, this slot has become a location of choice for broadcasters, news agencies, telcos, enterprises and government administrations. Its deployment will enable Eutelsat to expand capacity at this sought-after location by more than 50%. The satellite will replace EUTELSAT 21A which will continue commercial service at another orbital location.
Eutelsat's launch programme progresses with the lift-off, scheduled for early December, of the EUTELSAT 70B satellite, designed to more than double resources at Eutelsat's 70.5 degrees East orbital position that sits at the crossroads between Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
Tonight's launch was also a special event in Africa as the rocket's faring was decorated with an illustration by student Michael Yeboah from Ghana who was one of the two winners of last year's DStv Eutelsat Star Awards. Sponsored by MultiChoice Africa and Eutelsat, this competition is an initiative to encourage young students across Africa to embrace science and space technology. Entrants from secondary and high-schools are invited to write an essay or design a poster on applications that can support the development of the African continent. Overall prizes include a trip to Kourou to attend a satellite launch and a trip to Eutelsat's satellite installations in France.
About Eutelsat Communications
Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL, ISIN code: FR0010221234) is the holding company of Eutelsat S.A. With capacity commercialised on 29 satellites that provide coverage across Europe, as well as the Middle East, Africa and significant parts of Asia and the Americas, Eutelsat is one of the world's three leading satellite operators. As of 30 September 2012 Eutelsat's satellites were broadcasting 4,400 television channels to over 200 million cable and satellite homes in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Group's satellites also serve a wide range of fixed and mobile telecommunications services, TV contribution markets, corporate networks, and broadband markets for Internet Service Providers and for transport, maritime and in-flight markets. Eutelsat's broadband subsidiary, Skylogic, markets and operates high speed Internet services through teleports in France and Italy that serve consumers, enterprises, local communities, government agencies and aid organisations in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Headquartered in Paris, Eutelsat and its subsidiaries employ just over 750 commercial, technical and operational professionals. This culturally diverse staff comprises employees from 30 countries. www.eutelsat.com
SOURCE Eutelsat Communications