By George Allison,
Published by UK Defence Journal, 12 October 2021
The Minister for Defence Procurement has started Skynet 6A satellite production at Airbus in Stevenage.
Jeremy Quin MP, the UK’s Minister for Defence Procurement, visited Airbus in Stevenage today and pushed the button to start production of the first panel skin for the UK MOD’s next generation military communications satellite Skynet 6A.
Skynet is a family of military communications satellites operated by Airbus Defence and Space on behalf of the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence The first was launched in 1969, pre-dating the Terminator films with a villain Artificial Intelligence of the same name.
“The Defence Minister started the high precision cutting machine to profile the first aluminium panels of the near six ton Skynet 6A satellite which is based on Airbus’ Eurostar Neo telecommunications spacecraft and visited the extensive cleanroom facilities on site. Airbus was awarded the more than £500m contract to design and build Skynet 6A in July 2020 and the programme achieved its Preliminary Design Review in December 2020.”
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said:
“Secure military satellite communications are vital for our ability to conduct operations on a global scale. Seeing the first hardware for the next generation Skynet 6A satellite shows we are on track for launch in 2025 and ready to upgrade and enhance the UK’s global military communications network.”
Richard Franklin, Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space said:
“Airbus in the UK is a world leader in the design and manufacture of military and commercial telecommunications satellites, and working hand in hand with the Defence Digital team we have overcome the challenges of Covid and are on track with the programme. We also look to future export opportunities which will benefit the wider space ecosystem and are actively engaged with bringing on board a wider spread of UK SMEs to deliver this essential sovereign capability.”
Skynet 6A will extend and enhance the Skynet fleet. The contract signed with the UK involves the development, manufacture, cyber protection, assembly, integration, test and launch, of the military communications satellite, Skynet 6A.
The contract also covers technology development programmes, new secure telemetry, tracking and command systems, launch, in-orbit testing and ground segment updates.
See: Original Article