The first satellite to be built under ESA’s Eurostar Neo programme has launched.

The satellite – called Eutelsat Hotbird 13F – was developed and built by satellite manufacturer Airbus for satellite operator Eutelsat. It is based on the Eurostar Neo telecommunications satellite platform, developed under an ESA Partnership Project with Airbus designed to foster innovation and competitiveness in the European space industry.

It was launched on a Space-X flight from Cape Canaveral, USA, at 01:22 local time on 15 October (06:22 CEST) and full contact with the satellite was confirmed at 10:42 CEST.

The satellite is one of an identical pair, the second of which – Eutelsat Hotbird 13G – is due to launch next month.

Once in geostationary orbit some 36 000 km above Earth, the twin satellites will reinforce and enhance the broadcast of more than a thousand television channels into homes across Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East, replacing three older satellites.

Separation of the first Eurostar Neo satellite from its launcher
Separation of the first Eurostar Neo satellite from its launcher

Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “The launch of the first Eurostar Neo satellite demonstrates how ESA helps to boost European space companies and keep them competitive in the global marketplace, support their investments and help them to answer market needs. We are proud to work with our partner Airbus and with Eutelsat to federate industry around large-scale programmmes and achieve competitive leaps forward.”

François Gaullier, Head of Telecommunications Satellites at Airbus, said: “It’s a huge new payload-centric product that is more competitive than anything we have previously done and Eutelsat Hotbird 13F is the first one to be launched. It is also a very big partnership venture with ESA, the French Space Agency (CNES) and the UK Space Agency. We would not have developed this product without their support, which sustains the overall European space industry. The investments made in this product line have created some 2200 long-term jobs as this satellite is the first of eight that have been ordered already.”

Pascal Homsy, Eutelsat Chief Technical Officer, said: “Our congratulations to the ESA, Eutelsat, Airbus and SpaceX teams for successfully launching our Eutelsat Hotbird 13F satellite into geostationary orbit. This satellite brings the latest technology resources of the new ESA-supported Eurostar Neo platform at our leading 13-degree East position and confirms a long-term partnership between Airbus and Eutelsat.”

Jean-Pierre Diris, Deputy Director of Telecommunication and Navigation at CNES, said: “Our long-term support for this project shows the confidence that we have in the European space industry, including satellite builders and operators such as Airbus and Eutelsat.”

Harshbir Sangha, Director of Growth at the UK Space Agency, said: “The UK is a world leader in developing satellite technology and our support for the Eurostar Neo programme has strengthened the electrical propulsion supply chain in the UK, delivering growth to the space sector and unleashing innovation.

“As one of the leading investors in this programme, we have catalysed investment into the UK, supporting hundreds of jobs at Airbus, which has received orders for more satellites from customers around the world.”

Seven other Eurostar Neo spacecraft have been sold by Airbus. They will be used for high-speed internet and advanced mobile communications by the different customers. The satellites are at various stages of design and manufacturing and will all benefit from improvements drawn from this first build.

ESA’s Neosat programme comprises both Eurostar Neo by Airbus and Spacebus Neo by Thales Alenia Space.

It is developed in the frame of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems and the French “Programme d’Investissement d’Avenir”, in cooperation with ESA Member States, and managed jointly by ESA and CNES.

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