Fri. Feb 26th, 2021

In a virtual meeting held in October 2020, Airbus was reviewed by the Ministry of Defense (MOD) board. This review came few months after Airbus won a £500 million contract to build a next-generation military satellite for the UK’s Ministry of Defense. By November 202, the aerospace giant had made progress in this project, as shown in the Performance and Development Review (PDR). According to Airbus, this milestone demonstrates its commitment to achieving the program schedule on time. “This is excellent news and demonstrates our joint commitment to work in partnership to achieve the program schedule,” said Richard Franklin who works at the Airbus Defence and Space UK as the Managing Director of.

Airbus has achieved this milestone despite several challenges, including the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic that saw the county put under lockdown and restrictions. “The progress we are making in building the UK MOD ‘s next-generation military satellite and getting to this stage, despite current restrictions, really highlights the flexible and strong working relationship we have built with the Defense Digital team,” added Franklin.

Skynet 6A is a communications satellite for the military. It is an addition to the Skynet constellation and is scheduled for launch in 2025. This satellite will be built in the UK. “Skynet 6A, to be built entirely in the UK, will significantly enhance the UK’s milsatcoms capability, building on the heritage of the four Skynet 5 satellites which were also built by Airbus, and which are still operating perfectly in Orbit,” said Franklin. This contract, awarded to Airbus in July 2020, comprises the development, production, assembly, integration, cyber protection, test, and launch of the Skynet 6A satellite. It also involves updating the Skynet 5 system by developing technology programs, putting up modern secure telemetry, tracking, command systems, and launch of the satellites.

Since 2003, the Skynet 5 program has provided reliable and secure military communication services to the UK’s MOD. Airbus started building the Skynet fleet in 1974. The Skynet 5 fleet made up of 5A, 5B, 5C, and 5D satellites were built on Skynet 4’s success. They were launched in the period between 2007 and 2012.

The Skynet 6A satellite is going to operate on the company’s Eurostar Neo telecommunications satellite network. This includes the latest digital processing and radio frequency spectrum. This combination provides greater versatility and bigger capacity than its predecessors. It will feature electric orbit propulsion and electric station maintaining programs for maximum efficiency. Satellite integration will be carried out at the company’s facilities in the UK. Airbus will also run a test utilizing RAL Space evaluating facilities in Harwell, Oxfordshire. Skynet 6A is going to have at least 15 years of design lifetime. The orbital position where it will be located is currently unknown.

According to UK’s minister for Science, Amanda Solloway, this project will boost the country’s economy and make world-leading science and research achievable. “Space technology plays an important role in supporting our military and keeping us safe, while also boosting the UK’s economy and enabling world-leading science and research. With this major investment in Skynet 6A, the development of the National Satellite Test Facility, and the launch of a dedicated innovation program, we are setting a bold new ambition for the UK in space,” she said.

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By Adam