Eutelsat, the European communications satellite organisation based in Paris, has signed a contract with Matra Marconi Space for a new satellite, to guarantee service continuity in the event of a launch failure of one of its W series spacecraft.

The first W series craft, the W2, is scheduled to be launched on an Ariane 4 in October. It was to have flown on Ariane 503, but was placed on an Ariane 4 after the W1 was damaged by a fire at Aerospatiale in June. Eutelsat did not want to risk flying the W2 on a relatively untried launcher.

The order for the RESSAT spacecraft, which will be delivered in December 1999, took advantage of MMS's possession of a spare spacecraft following Loral's decision to cancel a deal with the European company to build the Orion 2 satellite after the US concern acquired Orion.

Source: Flight International