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Satellite operator Eutelsat has confirmed the successful lift-off of its EUTELSAT 21B craft on the way to the 21.5 degrees East neighbourhood.

Carried by an Ariane 5 rocket (Flight VA210) from Kourou, French Guiana, EUTELSAT 21B separated from the launch vehicle 28 minutes after take-off and manoeuvres to circularise the new satellite's orbit and place it into its operational configuration are now under way. Once orbit is stabilised, Eutelsat will carry out in-orbit testing before EUTELSAT 21B enters full commercial service in mid-December.

The 40-transponder EUTELSAT 21B Ku-band satellite will occupy the 21.5 degrees East position, which Eutelsat says has become a location of choice for broadcasters, news agencies, telcos, enterprises and government administrations. Its deployment will enable Eutelsat to expand capacity at this sought-after location by more than 50%. The satellite will replace EUTELSAT 21A, which will continue commercial service at another orbital location.

Commenting after launch, Eutelsat CEO, Michel de Rosen said: "EUTELSAT 21B is the first of seven satellites we will launch by mid-2015 to increase our commercial flexibility and our overall resources by almost 30%. We are delighted to see this new satellite on its way to an orbital location that is a point of reference for customers providing professional video, data and government applications in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. We thank Arianespace for this 26th launch and Thales Alenia Space for this 20th spacecraft for Eutelsat."

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