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Airbus’ SKYNET 6A secure military communications satellite achieves key milestone

by Reporter
18 July 2022 | 1 minute read

Following the successful completion of the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) critical design review (CDR), Airbus SKYNET 6A is on track for launch in 2025 on a Falcon 9 provided by SpaceX.

The Airbus-designed, state-of-the-art MILSATCOM is on track as the UK's next secure military communications satellite.

In July 2020, Airbus was awarded the SKYNET 6A contract to enhance the UK's MILSATCOM capability via supplementing the existing SKYNET 5 fleet of four satellites. Working closely with the Defence Digital team, SKYNET 6A CDR has been achieved on time according to Airbus, with the next major milestone aimed at delivery of the communications structure by the end of 2022.

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According to Richard Franklin, managing director of Airbus defence and Space UK, there are more than 400 people working on the project at key Airbus sites in Stevenage, Portsmouth and Hawthorn.

"We are building SKYNET 6A with its unique military communications payload entirely in the UK and we currently have more than 45 small- to medium-sized enterprises and subcontractors helping to make sure we remain on target for launch in 2025.

"Achieving this crucial milestone is tangible proof that in partnership with Defence Digital in the Ministry of Defence, we are firmly on track and making great progress on this flagship program," Franklin said.
 
The SKYNET 6A includes key national technology development programs, with the contract covering the design, development, manufacture, assembly, integration, test and launch of the military communications satellite.
 
The SKYNET 6A satellite is based on the Airbus Eurostar Neo telecommunications satellite platform. It utilises the unique Airbus military communications payload, adopting the latest digital processing to provide more capacity and greater versatility than previous SKYNET satellites.

According to Airbus, SKYNET 6A will feature the company's electric orbit raising propulsion as well as electric station keeping systems for maximum cost effectiveness.

In support of the UK Space Agency's initiative for UK national end-to-end satellite production, complete satellite integration will take place at Airbus facilities in the UK followed by testing using RAL Space testing facilities at Harwell in Oxfordshire.

ISCOVER

Since 2003, the SKYNET 5 program has provided the UK MOD with a suite of robust, reliable and secure military communications services, supporting global operations. Airbus has been involved in SKYNET since 1974 and continues to support space manufacturing capability in the UK.

[Related: Fraud costs up 10% for APAC businesses, survey finds]

 

Airbus’ SKYNET 6A secure military communications satellite achieves key milestone
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