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Hot Bird 9, W2M Flights Booked

Eutelsat Communications has announced that the Hot Bird 9 and W2M satellites will be aboard Arianespace Flight 186, set to launch from Kourou, French Guiana, in the last week of November.

Built by EADS Astrium, construction of Hot Bird 9 was completed in July and the satellite arrived in Kourou on 16 September for prelaunch preparation. W2M is due to be shipped from Bangalore, India, to Kourou by mid-October for preflight preparations.

This marks a change in the planned cargo for the Arianespace 5 ECA heavy launch vehicle, ensuring a timely entry into service of Hot Bird 9 and an acceleration of the deployment of W2M.

Designed for consumer broadcasting to satellite and cable homes across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, the high-power Ku-band Hot Bird 9 satellite, equipped with 64 transponders, will join Eutelsat's 13 degrees East position to increase in-orbit sparing in the Eutelsat premium video neighbourhood.

Hot Bird 9 is identical to Hot Bird 8 which was launched to 13 degrees East in August 2006 and Hot Bird 10 which will be orbited by Arianespace beginning of 2009.

W2M will be positioned at Eutelsat's 16 degrees East position which represents one of the fastest-growing neighbourhoods for digital broadcasting in Central Europe and the Indian Ocean regions.

Equipped with 26 Ku-band transponders and up to 32 depending on operational modes, the new satellite will replace W2 and provide additional capacity for further service expansion.