European satellite operator Eutelsat has contracted Airbus to develop a new multi-mission geostationary telecommunications satellite.

The next-generation EUTELSAT 36D satellite features 70 Ku-band transponders over five downlink beams and a steerable antenna, as well as enhanced payload capacity, power and thermal control systems.

The EUTELSAT 36D will provide flexibility and enhance performance at 36° East in Africa, Russia and Europe.

The spacecraft is the 26th Airbus satellite ordered by Eutelsat and the eighth satellite based on the advanced Airbus Eurostar Neo platform.

The Eurostar Neo offers decreased production time and optimised costs.

With this new satellite, Airbus’ strengthens its position as a leading electric propulsion satellites maker.

The company has four fully electric satellites operational in orbit, as well as 17 more electric high-capacity telecommunications satellites that are under construction.

Airbus telecom system head François Gaullier said: “This eighth contract for a Eurostar Neo further endorses our strategy of continually pioneering new technologies to better serve our customers’ needs.

“We are delighted to help Eutelsat provide broadcast and data connectivity, including to remote regions where it’s needed most.

“More personally, the continuing confidence of Eutelsat in our products is high praise of the reliability of our work and a source of pride for all of our skilled teams.”

EUTELSAT 36D is slated to launch in the first half of 2024 and will have an operational lifetime of more than 15 years.

It has a combined electric power of 18kW and a reduced launch mass of 5t, enabled by Airbus’ electric orbit raising (EOR) capability.