Stevenage-based Astrium is playing a key role in the imminent launch of the second Skynet 5 satellite launch of Skynet 5B from Kourou, French Guiana on 9 November 2007 aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle.
Astrium is responsible for the service provision through its company Paradigm, prime contractor on the launcher Ariane 5, and also as prime contractor for the satellites and associated ground segment.
Skynet 5 is the next generation military satellite communications programme for the MoD, and the first Skynet 5A satellite entered service in April 2007. Secure communications services are being delivered by the owner and operator, Paradigm, part of Astrium Services, with the system, including the satellites, designed and built by Astrium Satellites. Astrium Space Transportation is prime contractor on Ariane 5.
The Skynet 5 private finance initiative (PFI) is the culmination of many years’ collaboration and partnership between the MoD, Paradigm, Astrium, EADS and financial experts.
The launch of Skynet 5B will be followed by the launch of Skynet 5C in mid 2008, which will act as an in-orbit spare. The satellites will meet long haul communications needs for the MoD and Paradigm’s other international customers.
The Skynet 5 satellites are based on Astrium’s Eurostar E3000 satellite platform with a 34m solar array span and a launch mass of 4.65 tonnes. Skynet 5B will be positioned at 53 degrees east.