Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS) has just been awarded a contract by the commerical satellite operator, Eutelsat ,to design and build the Eutelsat 172B communications spacecraft. The new satellite will be launched in first half 2017, making it the first European satellite to demonstrate electric propulsion for orbit raising.
The “all electric” EUTELSAT 172B will use a version of the Eurostar E3000 platform which will have a capability for EOR (Electric Orbit Raising). The spacecraft will use electric propulsion for initial orbit raising and all on-orbit manoeuvres. This allows the mass of the spacecraft to be reduced compared to a spacecraft carrying an equivalent chemical propulsion system enabling the satellite to be launched with the Ariane 5 lower position. In-orbit raising is expected to take approximately four months.
The 3,500kg EUTELSAT 172B satellite will have electric power of 13 kW, will also have the ability to dynamically distribute power between the set of beams connected to its high throughput payload.
The spacecraft will carry a C-band payload of 14 physical transponders aimed at the growth markets in South East Asia. The spacecraft will also carry regular Ku-band payload of 36 physical transponders that will more than double capacity at 172° East offering services to the Asia-Pacific region.
The spacecraft will also carry a special high throughput Ku-band payload specifically designed for in-flight broadband, featuring multiple user spots optimised to serve densely-used Asian and trans-Pacific flight paths and interconnected to gateways operating in the Ka-band. This new payload will be the first customised for in-flight connectivity over the Pacific Ocean Region, delivering an overall throughput of 1.8 Gbps.