At 16:21 on October 7, the “Long March III B” carrier rocket successfully launched French communication satellite W3C into orbit from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The launch was arranged by China Great Wall Industry Corp., a state-owned firm authorized to sell Long March rockets on the commercial market. Friday’s launch was the first time a Chinese rocket launched a Western-owned satellite since 1999.
The satellite W3C is made by French company Thales Alenia Space for European companies. This high-power communication satellite weighs 5.4 tons, with Ku, Ka-band transponders installed and has 15-year design life, providing television broadcast, broadband, video, data transmission, Internet and other services. The satellite will be operated by Eutelsat, a leading international communications satellite owner based in Paris.