Press Release

Skynet 5D satellite ready for launch

By SpaceRef Editor
December 21, 2012
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The fourth Astrium built Skynet 5 satellite is on target and ready for launch on 19 December from Kourou, French Guiana on an Ariane 5 launcher.

Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, is prime contractor for the Skynet 5 military satellite communications programme operating communications services for the UK Ministry of Defence until at least 2022. Astrium is also prime contractor for the design and manufacture of all four of the state-of-the-art milsatcom Skynet 5 satellites and prime contractor for the Ariane 5 launcher.

Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Services commented: “The launch of the fourth Skynet 5 secure military satellite is yet another major milestone in this remarkable ground breaking programme running for nearly a decade. Astrium has worked consistently to provide the highest levels of service to the UK Ministry of Defence. Astrium has invested significantly in support of the strong partnership with UK MOD, in return for a 2 year extension to the Skynet 5 concession until 2022. This launch will further enhance the services we can offer.”

Skynet 5 is a highly successful PFI (Private Finance Initiative) programme worth #4Bn signed in October 2003 with the UK Ministry of Defence. Through the Skynet concession, Astrium Services operates the Skynet military satellite constellation and the ground network to provide all Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communications to the UK Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office. The PFI has enabled Astrium Services to also provide Skynet-based communication services to other forces such as US, Portugal, and Australia.

With the launch of Skynet 5D, Astrium Services will operate a fleet of 8 high power X-band and UHF satellites: four Skynet 5, three Skynet 4 and the NATO IVB satellite. These satellites are hardened to demanding mission critical, military standards and are compliant with NSA and NATO STANAG standards. Skynet 5 satellites also feature an on board active receive antenna (OBARA) which can shape beams around sources of interference, providing a unique anti-jamming capability.

The Astrium built Skynet 5D satellite will reinforce and extend the operational service already provided by the existing three Skynet 5 satellites. It will be located over the Middle East (53 degrees East), becoming Astrium Services most highly active milsatcom satellite. Its larger fuel tanks enable it to be repositioned more frequently to meet operational needs. Skynet 5D will extend the total commercially owned X-band (Super High Frequency) to over 2GHz of high powered beams across the globe. Earlier this year Astrium Services signed a multi-million dollar contract with Harris CapRock to provide additional UHF capacity on Skynet 5D to military and government customers worldwide.

The first three Skynet 5 satellites operating in orbit were also launched on Ariane 5 launchers. Astrium Space Transportation is prime contractor for the European Ariane 5 launcher, responsible for the delivery to Arianespace of a fully integrated and tested launch vehicle. The Skynet 5 programme demonstrates Astrium’s complete range of expertise across all sectors of the space business: services, satellites and space transportation.

About Astrium

Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Astrium had a turnover close to O5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.
Astrium is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services.

Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment; Astrium Services for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of O 49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.

Press contacts:
Jeremy Close (Astrium UK) Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872
Gregory Gavroy (Astrium FR) Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
Ralph Heinrich (Astrium GER) Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971
Francisco Lechon (Astrium SP) Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41

SpaceRef staff editor.