Europe launches major British military satellite

December 20, 2012
An Ariane 5 rocket blasts off from the Kourou space base in French Guiana on December 19, 2012. Skynet 5D—the fourth in Britain's new generation of Skynet military satellites—was taken aloft by Ariane 5 at 2149 GMT on Wednesday.

A European rocket has launched a major satellite designed to expand telecommunications for the British military from the Kourou space base in French Guiana, flight operators said.

Skynet 5D—the fourth in Britain's new generation of Skynet —was taken aloft by a heavy at 2149 GMT on Wednesday, said in an Internet feed of the launch.

The 4.8-tonne satellite was partnered by a second payload, Mexsat Bicentenario, a 2.9-tonne telecoms satellite for the Mexican government.

The Skynet system is a public-private arrangement between Britain's Ministry of Defence and the space firm Astrium, which builds the satellites.

Under it, British forces pay an annual charge for which they are guaranteed bandwidth for their communications, and any surplus is sold to fellow NATO countries or other allies.

Skynet 5D is designed to provide coverage over the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Explore further: Ariane rocket places two satellites into orbit

Related Stories

Ariane rocket launches two Asian satellites

May 16, 2012

An Ariane 5 rocket successfully launched two Asian telecoms satellites into orbit from the Kourou space centre in French Guiana, European operator Arianespace announced.

Ariane rocket with two telecom satellites lifts off

August 3, 2012

An Ariane 5 rocket carrying two telecommunication satellites launched from the Kourou space centre in French Guiana on Thursday, an Internet broadcast by European operator Arianespace showed.

Recommended for you

Exiled exoplanet likely kicked out of star's neighborhood

December 1, 2015

A planet discovered last year sitting at an unusually large distance from its star - 16 times farther than Pluto is from the sun - may have been kicked out of its birthplace close to the star in a process similar to what ...

Cassini mission provides insight into Saturn

December 1, 2015

Scientists have found the first direct evidence for explosive releases of energy in Saturn's magnetic bubble using data from the Cassini spacecraft, a joint mission between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian ...

Timing a sextuple quasar

December 1, 2015

Quasars are galaxies with massive black holes at their cores around which vast amounts of energy are being radiated. Indeed, so much light is emitted that the nucleus of a quasar is much brighter than the rest of the entire ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.