Eutelsat Communications has launched its W3C satellite on a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China.

W3C was built by Thales Alenia Space based on its Spacebus 4000 platform, will replace the Eurobird 16, W2M and SESAT 1 satellites at 16° East with a scheduled in orbit life span of more than 15 years.

The satellite is carrying 56 transponders (53 Ku-band and three Ka-band) and will provide a high-power footprint optimised for DTH broadcasting in central Europe and high-power coverage over the Indian Ocean to support the expansion of pay TV and accelerate digital switchover in Mauritius and Reunion Island.

In addition, the satellite will also serve Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for data networks and newsgathering, and provide Ku-band coverage from Senegal to Madagascar and enable connectivity with Europe in Ka-band.

Eutelsat’s in-orbit expansion programme will continue with the launch of six additional satellites from 2012 to 2014.