Eutelsat Communications has sent up a new satellite that will add capacity to the company's communications coverage in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
The Eutelsat 21B satellite was successfully launched on the Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana on Saturday evening. It replaces Eutelsat 21A at the 21.5° East location — once 21B goes live in mid-December, 21A will be shuffled off to serve another location.
Built by Thales Alenia Space, 21B offers around 50 percent more capacity than 21A. Services to be carried on the satellite include voice, data and broadcast video, with customers ranging from businesses to governments.
"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 percent," company chief executive Michel de Rosen said in a statement.
The new satellite, which has 40 Ku-band transponders, will deliver widebeam coverage that extends across EMEA and Central Asia. However, it will also offer a high-power beam for North Africa, and another for the Middle East and Central Asia.
The Ariane 5 rocket's successful lift-off in Kourou on Saturday was the 52nd for the European launch system. In addition to Eutelsat 21B, it carried a second payload, the Star One C3 Brazilian satellite. This is expected to provide TV broadcast and phone coverage for the whole of South America. Together, the payloads weighed 8,250kg, according to Arianespace.
Next up at Europe's spaceport in Guiana is the launch of a Soyuz to put the French Pleiades 1B satellite into orbit, with the flight scheduled for 30 November.