Europe's largest satellite operator, Eutelsat, has ordered a new Hot Bird 7 spacecraft from Astrium. The contract involves a fast-track, two-year delivery schedule to meet Eutelsat's market needs, says Astrium, recently formed by Aerospatiale Matra-BAE Systems and Daimler-Chrysler Aerospace.

Hot Bird 7 will be located at 13°E in geostationary orbit, 36,000km (22,360 miles) over the equator, in 2002 and will be equipped with 40 Ku-band transponders, providing television services to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The satellite will have a life of about 15 years.

The satellite will be based on a Eurostar 2000 Plus spacecraft bus and will weigh 3,300kg (7,270lb), with power levels of 7.5kW.

The bus and the 360kg communications payload, including pairs of dual-gridded shaped reflectors and steerable elliptical beams, will be built by Astrium plants in France and the UK.

Astrium partners built four earlier Hot Bird spacecraft for Eutelsat, which were launched between 1996 and 1998, and the W1 satellite that will be launched in September.

The Eutelsat contract follows an earlier satellite manufacture win for Astrium from Inmarsat. Astrium is building three fourth generation satellites for the global satellite system operator, for service entry in 2004.

Source: Flight International