Eutelsat Communications has commissioned Thales Alenia Space to build a new satellite for the 7 degrees East orbital slot. W3B is scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2010 and will be co-positioned with the established W3A satellite.
Thales Alenia Space will base the satellite on the Spacebus 4000 platform. It will carry 56 transponders, effectively doubling the capacity at 7 degrees East, from 44 to 70 transponders.
The 7 degrees East slot has been at the centre of a dispute with SES over the use of a further Eutelsat position at 4 degrees East and the established SES-Sirius position of 5 degrees East.