Satellite TV provider Eutelsat suffered a little setback today. Eutelsat Communications announces the loss of the W3B satellite following an anomaly which was detected on the satellite's propulsion subsystem after its launch by an Ariane 5 rocket. W3B was scheduled to be located at 16 degrees East to replace Eutelsat's EUROBIRD 16, W2M and SESAT 1 satellites. With the loss of W3B, the three satellites will now remain in full service at 16 degrees East until the arrival of W3C, whose launch is on track for mid-2011. Eutelsat will also immediately initiate a new satellite program, called W3D, for a planned launch in the first quarter of 2013.
This accident shows that launching satellite into orbit is still risky business and a technical challenge. Eutelsat is fully insured for the W3B satellite and there is no direct financial loss. There is no just a bit more space debris circling our planet.