Apr 16, 2013– Toulouse, France  (Techreleased) – Astrium, Europe’s leading space technology company, will soon be able to offer near-global coverage in X-band with the successful entry into service of Skynet 5D and the launch of its hosted payload on Telesat’s Anik G1 satellite.

Skynet 5D
Skynet 5D

Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Services said: “We are the only operator in the world providing near-global coverage reserved exclusively for government and military usage. Reaching from 180 degrees West to 135 degrees East with 75 X-band transponders our constellation has a total of 2.2 GHz – and we now offer more available capacity for our customers.”

Astrium Services has a 15 year contract with Telesat for the exclusive use of the X-Band hosted payload. The Anik G1 satellite launched on 16 April from Baikonur is due to be positioned at 107.3 degrees West. It will provide the first commercial X-band coverage across North and Latin America, with substantial coverage of the Pacific Ocean reaching out to Hawaii and Easter Island.

On 2 April, Astrium successfully brought its Skynet 5D satellite into service following its launch on an Ariane 5 in December 2012. It has been positioned over the Middle East at 53 degrees East – taking the place of Skynet 5B – becoming Astrium Services’ most active milsatcom satellite. Its larger fuel tanks will enable it to be repositioned more frequently to meet operational needs. The Skynet fleet now comprises eight satellites: Skynet 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D, combined with three Skynet 4 satellites (C, E and F) and one NATO IV satellite (see below for orbital positions). The 10 UHF channels on Skynet 5D have already been fully sold to customers including Harris CapRock and the Netherland’s Ministry of Defence.

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. The PFI has enabled Astrium Services to also provide Skynet-based communication services to other government institutions including the UK Cabinet Office and armed forces from other nations such as US, Canada, Australia and also to NATO.

Colonel Justin Hodges, Deputy Head for the Beyond Line of Sight team at the MOD’S Defence , Equipment and Support Organisation said: “Entry into service of the Skynet 5D is yet another significant milestone in this successful programme. It marks the culmination of a decade of hard work by the MOD’s ISS Networks Team and Astrium to provide additional communications capacity for the Armed Forces.”

Satellite orbital positions:

  • Skynet 4C – 1 degree West
  • Skynet 4E – 33 degrees East
  • Skynet 4F – 34 degrees West
  • NATO IVB – 35 degrees East
  • Skynet 5A – 6 degrees East
  • Skynet 5B – 25 degrees East
  • Skynet 5C – 17.8 degrees West
  • Skynet 5D – 53 degrees East
  • Anik G1 – 107.3 degrees West