Eutelsat 5 West A
Atlantic Bird 3 satellite
NamesAtlantic Bird 3
AB 3
Stellat 5
Mission typeCommunications
COSPAR ID2002-035A [1]
SATCAT no.27460
Mission duration15 years (planned)[2]
20 years (achieved)
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftStellat 5 / Atlantic Bird 3
Spacecraft typeSpacebus
BusSpacebus 3000 B3
ManufacturerAlcatel Space
Launch mass4,050 kg (8,930 lb)
Dry mass1,805 kg (3,979 lb)
Dimensions5.47 m x 3.45 m x 2.44 m
Power11 kW
Start of mission
Launch date5 July 2002, 23:22:00 UTC
RocketAriane 5G (V153)
Launch siteCentre Spatial Guyanais, ELA-3
Entered serviceSeptember 2002
End of mission
DisposalGraveyard orbit[3]
DeactivatedJanuary 2023[3]
Last contact9:57 Jan. 13 2023 (UTC)[3]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeGeostationary orbit
Longitude5° West
Band45 transponders:
10 C-band
35 Ku-band
Coverage areaEurope, Africa, Middle East

Eutelsat 5 West A, formerly Atlantic Bird 3 (or AB 3) was a communications satellite belonging to the operator Eutelsat. Situated at 5° West, it broadcast satellite television, radio and other digital data. Developed for France Telecom it was transferred soon after its launch to the operator Eutelsat. It entered operational service in early September 2002. Its anticipated working life was 15 years. It was decommissioned in January 2023.[3]


Stellat 5, as it was originally known, was built by Alcatel Space on behalf of Stellat, a joint-venture between France Telecom (70%) and Europe*Star (30%), a subsidiary of Alcatel Space and Loral Space & Communications.[4] It was launched on 5 July 2002 at 23:22:00 UTC by an Ariane 5G launch vehicle from Centre Spatial Guyanais, Kourou in French Guiana along with the Japanese satellite N-STAR c. It had a launch weight of 4050 kg. Victim of financial difficulties, France Telecom withdrew from space operations. In this move it sold Stellat to Eutelsat in July 2002, after the launch. Early September 2002, the satellite entered operational service. On 25 September 2002, Eutelsat completed the acquisition for a sum of 183,900,000 and renamed the satellite Atlantic Bird 3.[5]

Atlantic Bird 3 took on the role covered by the satellites Telecom 1 and Telecom 2C, operational between 1983 and 2002, in the historic French position of 5° of longitude West. In March 2012, EUTELSAT re-baptised its satellite fleet, and Atlantic Bird 3 was renamed Eutelsat 5 West A.

Technical characteristics

Atlantic Bird 3 was assembled by Alcatel Space, later Alcatel Alenia Space, on a Spacebus-3000B3 satellite bus. It was equipped with 35 Ku-band repeaters covering Europe, North Africa and the Middle East as well as 10 C-band repeaters. The Ku-band repeaters were 94 watts. The 10 C-band repeaters were 55 watts. During the eclipse of 19 April 2004 equinox, the satellite lost 6 of its total of 108 battery elements, reducing its performance.[2]


This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (March 2024)

French public analogue

Atlantic Bird 3 was launched to replace satellite Telecom 2C. It, therefore, took on the mission to continue the transmission of French national analog television channels to:

In France, Atlantic Bird 3 enabled Eutelsat to serve 1.6 million households (of nearly 23 million with televisions) who otherwise did not receive a signal at all, or who received a poor or unreliable signal ("snow", echos, interference, fog, repeated storm damage of mountain transmitters). No other free alternative existed. Transmissions were made in SÉCAM, the standard used in France.

Reception of analog satellite television could be achieved with relatively basic equipment:

Terrestrial analogue transmissions ceased in France on 29 November 2011 and the analogue satellite service reduced accordingly thereafter.

French public digital

With the arrival of digital terrestrial television in France, notably 18 or 19 free national channels attributed by the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA), this satellite was chosen to feed terrestrial transmitters from March 2005. Householders could also use AB 3 to receive French digital TV: Télévision Numérique Terrestre (TNT):

Hybrid analog / digital demodulators have permitted continued access to free-to-air national channels during the transition. Since the end of 2011 and the termination of analogue broadcasting on Atlantic Bird 3, now requires a subscription to one of the two packages present on the satellite or a Fransat labelled terminal.

The various packages offering bouquets of digital channels are:

The terminals compatible with these bouquets employ MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 (thus backwards compatible with 2) for encrypted broadcasts.

Regulatory obligations for the FRANSAT bouquet

In the 2007 bill "The future of television", French senators voted for an article requiring national digital TV broadcasters to make their free-to-air channels available to viewers via at least one satellite distributor or channel editor within a maximum period of three months from the date of enactment of the law confirmed by the vote of Deputies. This law passed through a fixed joint commission of 2 chambers, because the text was amended and adopted permanently. The Socialist Party (France) (PS) group that had challenged before the Constitutional Council was dismissed on 28 February 2008.

In a report published by the Secretariat of State for Strategic Studies,[6] it was planned to create a 2nd free satellite offer to over 1.5 million households already facing Atlantic Bird 3 without redirecting their existing satellite dish, in addition to the TNTSAT offer managed by the Canal+ Group. Announced on 8 February 2009 by EUTELSAT, this offer designated FRANSAT joined AB 3 in June 2009.


Free to air channels on Eutelsat 5 West A

KC 110.971 GHz V 29950 7/8 KB4 11.609 GHz V 5969 1/2
  • BiS Télévisions Promo
KB1 11.471 GHz V 29950 3/4
  • D!CI TV (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence)
KB11 11.634 GHz H 29950 3/4
  • Fransat Ultra HD Démo
KC3 11.054 GHz V 29950 7/8 KB2 11.512 GHz V 29950 7/8
KC9 11.059 GHz H 23700 3/4 KB3 11.555 GHz V 29950 7/8
KC4 11.096 GHz V 29950 3/4 KB4 11.591 GHz V 20000 2/3 KA2 12.564 GHz V 29950 7/8



  1. ^ "EUTE 5 WEST A (STELLAT 5)". Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Document de Référence 2014/2015" (PDF) (in French). Eutelsat. 19 October 2015. pp. 18, 171. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Rainbow, Jason (19 January 2023). "Eutelsat 5 West A successfully retired in graveyard orbit". Space News. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Stellat's first satellite is set for launch in 2002". FlightGlobal. 6 March 2001.
  5. ^ "Eutelsat buys Stellat 5". Broadcast (magazine). 14 August 2002.
  6. ^ Besson, Éric (October 2008). "Plan de développement de l'économie numérique France 2012" [Development plan for the digital economy France 2012] (PDF) (in French). p. 23. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 November 2008.
  7. ^ "3 chaînes passent en HD sur FRANSAT" (in French). 19 May 2015.
  8. ^ "France 4 et France 5 désormais en HD sur Fransat". (in French). 9 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Fréquences du satellite" (in French). KingOfSat. Retrieved 4 May 2016.