RESTON, Va., Dec. 23, 2008 – International Launch Services (ILS) and Eutelsat Communications S.A. have set a first quarter 2009 launch date for the W2A satellite, which will be the 50th commercial Proton launch for ILS as well as its first mission of the new year. In addition, the companies announced a new contract under which ILS will launch another Eutelsat mission in 2010. That payload is not yet named.
These announcements come on the heels of the successful Dec. 10 launch of the ILS Proton Breeze M from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. That mission, with the Ciel II satellite, was the sixth ILS launch of the year and the 4th successful mission in 4 months’ time.
Eutelsat contracted with ILS in 2007 to launch one of its W series satellites on the Proton Breeze M vehicle. W2A was designated as the payload in November 2008. The Proton vehicle is Russia’s premier heavy-lift launcher and is built by Khrunichev Space Center, the majority owner of ILS.
The W2A satellite, built by ThalesAleniaSpace, is a Spacebus 4000 C4 model, similar to the Ciel II satellite just launched. The W2A spacecraft will carry three payloads, including the first S-band payload for Europe. This feature will launch the Solaris Mobile communications service across the continent. Solaris Mobile is a joint venture between SES ASTRA and Eutelsat Communications. The W2A C-band and Ku-band payloads will provide Europe and North Africa with an array of direct-to-home and business services.
Frank McKenna, president of International Launch Services, said: “ILS is committed to providing Eutelsat with top-quality launch services and the same precise, on-time delivery that all our customers rely upon and expect. W2A will be our first satellite launched in 2009 and our 50th overall. We are proud to be celebrating this significant milestone with Eutelsat’s W2A mission.”
“We are pleased to renew our relationship with ILS for a launch on the powerful Proton booster. The flexibility and schedule adherence that ILS offers and delivers is absolutely essential. This contract gives important added assurance of access to space for our satellite launch program”, said Giuliano Berretta, Chairman and CEO of Eutelsat.