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Eutelsat stops services on aging satellite following anomaly

TAMPA, Fla. — Eutelsat said Feb. 2 it has stopped providing services from an aging geostationary satellite over the Americas following an unspecified anomaly. 

The 18-year-old Eutelsat 113 West A satellite had been providing video, data, and government services from an inclined orbit at 113 degrees West, three years after the end of its design life.

The satellite was not carrying insurance at the time the anomaly hit Jan. 31, the French fleet operator said, but was only due to provide around three million euros ($3.2 million) in revenues over the next five months. Eutelsat said it had expected to get between five and six million euros out of the satellite annually over the following four years.

Mitigation actions underway include transferring customers to nearby satellites that Eutelsat operates at 115 degrees and 117 degrees West.

Eutelsat 113 West A (aka ex-Satmex 6) was built by Space Systems Loral — now Maxar Technologies — and had 18 operational transponders operating in the C- and Ku-bands.

The operator said in a brief news announcement that it is “deploying all possible efforts to mitigate the potential adverse consequences on orbital safety,” without saying whether it has lost complete control of the spacecraft.

Eutelsat spokesperson Joanna Darlington said via email it is too early in the diagnostic process to tell whether the company will be able to ultimately de-orbit the satellite.