PARIS, Sept. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7 satellite of Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) has been successfully delivered into orbit by a Zenit-3SL rocket operated by Sea Launch AG from the ocean-based Odyssey Launch Platform in international waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Lift-off of the rocket carrying the Astrium-built 4.6 tonne satellite took place on Saturday 24 September at 20:18 GMT/UTC (22:18 CET). After a 1-hour 7-minute flight, the Zenit-3SL booster released ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7 into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Partial deployment of the solar array, commanded by Eutelsat from its teleport in Rambouillet, was successfully completed within three hours of separation.
ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7 is set to bring first-class resources to 7 degrees West, a key video neighbourhood delivering Arab and international channels into almost 30 million satellite homes across North Africa and the Middle East. Eutelsat operates at 7 degrees West in close collaboration with the Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat which manages its own system of three satellites at this location.
Following early orbit operations which are managed by Eutelsat and Astrium engineers, and which include circularising the satellite's orbit and deploying the antennas, ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7 will undergo a full series of in-orbit tests. It will be moved to 7 degrees West in the second half of October to assume broadcasting of the 370 digital and High-Definition channels already delivered from this position by Eutelsat's ATLANTIC BIRD™ 4A satellite. With up to 50 transponders, 11 more than ATLANTIC BIRD™ 4A, it will also open opportunities for further business development in high-growth markets. Two beams will give superior coverage across the Middle East, North Africa and North-West Africa.
Following ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7's entry into service, ATLANTIC BIRD™ 4A will be redeployed to an alternative location where it will remain in full commercial service.
Commenting after launch and the first manoeuvres, Eutelsat CEO, Michel de Rosen said: "We are delighted to announce that ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7 is on its way to 7 degrees West, and thank Sea Launch, Energia Logistics and RSC Energia for a precisely executed launch. This new satellite will deliver headroom for expansion at one of Eutelsat's fastest growing video neighbourhoods, serving vibrant TV markets in North Africa and the Middle East. It underscores our ambition to make a long-term commitment to digital broadcasting markets in the region and to team with key players to deliver first-class service.
Today's launch also represents a new step forward in Eutelsat's significant in-orbit expansion programme. Our W3C satellite is scheduled for launch next month, with five further satellites to follow into space by early 2014 that will collectively increase our resources by 20%."
Based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, and with a scheduled in-orbit lifetime exceeding 15 years, ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7 is the 20th satellite ordered by Eutelsat from Astrium.
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About Eutelsat Communications
Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL, ISIN code: FR0010221234) is the holding company of Eutelsat S.A.. With capacity commercialised on 27 satellites that provide coverage over the entire European continent, as well as the Middle East, Africa, India and significant parts of Asia and the Americas, Eutelsat is one of the world's three leading satellite operators in terms of revenues. As of 30 June 2011, Eutelsat's satellites were broadcasting more than 3,800 television channels. More than 1,100 channels are broadcast via its HOT BIRD™ video neighbourhood at 13 degrees East alone which serves over 120 million cable and satellite homes in Europe, the Middle East and North 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 access to high speed internet services through teleports in France and Italy that serve 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 700 commercial, technical and operational professionals from 30 countries.
SOURCE Eutelsat Communications