Ariane 5 Rocket has Launched Britains Skynet 5B
2007-11-15 0:00

By Jonathan Amos | news.bbc.co.uk


Britain has launched Skynet 5B - the latest spacecraft in a sophisticated new military communications system.

The satellite rode into orbit atop an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Kourou spaceport, in French Guiana.

Over the course of the next month, 5B will take up a position over the Indian Ocean and begin handling secure traffic for UK forces around the world.

The Ł3.6bn Skynet project is the UK's single biggest space venture and is designed to operate until 2020.

The rocket left the spaceport at 1906 local time (2206 GMT). It was a case of third time lucky after technical glitches had thwarted two previous attempts at a launch.

The Skynet payload separated from the Ariane just 27 minutes into the flight and was soon picked up by controllers through a ground station in Africa.

The spacecraft will need about 20 days of manoeuvres to take up a geostationary position at 53 degrees East.

Skynet 5B joins the 5A platform which was launched successfully in March. Working together, the two spacecraft will provide near-global coverage.

They will allow the Army, Royal Navy and RAF to pass much more data, faster between command centres. The bandwidth capacity of Skynet 5 is two-and-a-half times that of the old satellite constellation, Skynet 4.

The new spacecraft have been "hardened" for military use. They will resist attempts to disrupt them with high-powered lasers, and have some capacity to ride out the electromagnetic pulse emitted by nuclear weapons - something that would knock out normal electronic systems.


The business end of Skynet 5B. Just visible are the four steerable antennas (white dishes) that will focus bandwidth onto particular regions. To the left, the section obscured by a square silver covering is the 5B's classified advanced receive antenna.


Classified receive antenna technology on the spacecraft can also go deaf to signals that try to jam communications, whilst at the same time leaving channels open for use by British commanders.

The 5A platform is already making important contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) says.

The RAF's new Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have begun monitoring Taleban operations, and 5A is being used to feed full-motion video back to the UK for analysis.

UK forces expect more high-bandwidth applications such as Reaper to come online in the years ahead.

The upgraded Skynet system is being funded with City money through a commercial company - Paradigm Secure Communications. The firm now provides all satcom services to the Army, Royal Navy and RAF, including the "welfare services" that allow service personnel on tour to phone and email home.

"The deal we have enables our customer, the British forces, to concentrate on what they are doing - the military campaign," said Malcolm Peto, the managing director of Paradigm.

"They get better technology, faster; and we get more money because we're incentivised to invest in the technology. It's a virtuous circle.

"The technology in our space industry is supremely efficient. In terms of the special bits that Skynet 5B's got for our military, it's just the best of the best."

Spare bandwidth on the Skynet 5 system will be sold to Nato countries and other "friendly" governments, bringing revenue back to Paradigm and the MoD.

Wednesday's Ariane rocket also lofted a Brazilian telecommunications spacecraft. The Star One C1 spacecraft will provide broadband internet services to South American consumers.


1. Skynet 5 overhauls satellite communications for UK forces
2. The largely autonomous satellites talk to two UK ground stations
3. Skynet 5 supports high-bandwidth applications, such as UAV video
4. Antennas and terminals are upgraded to make best use of Skynet
5. New battlefield networks, such as Cormorant, feed into the system
6. System gives commanders access to more information, faster


The satellites are 'hardened' against interference. A special receive antenna (1) can resist attempts at jamming
Each spacecraft has four steerable antennas (2) that can concentrate bandwidth onto particular regions
The system gives near-global coverage (3), providing 2.5 times the capacity afforded by the previous system
Each spacecraft (4) is a 3x4x4.5m box and weighs just under 5 tonnes; the solar wings once unfurled measure 34m tip to tip
Improved technologies, including a solar 'sail' (5), lengthen the platforms' operational lives to at least 15 years

Article from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7095344.stm



Related Articles
paradigmsecure.com
Ariane 5
Skynet (satellites)
Skynet (fictional)
Skynet satellite launch postponed
Robot Demonstrates Self Awareness
Pentagon Prepares To Build $130bn Robot Army
Pentagon plans cyber-insect army
US robot builds copies of itself
Emotion robots learn from people
Pentagon to Global Cities -- Drop Dead
Warbots to Replace Human Soldiers?


Latest News from our Front Page

Gunman Storms Dutch TV Station Demanding Airtime
2015-01-30 23:32
Dutch authorities have released few details about the bizarre case of 19-year-old Tarik Zahzah’s attack on the main news studio of television station NOS on Thursday. To get the obvious question out of the way first, the police say there is no evidence that Zahzah, who is half-Egyptian, acted on behalf of organized terrorism. The authorities always say that on the ...
How Alan Dershowitz bullied rape victims to protect a serial child molester
2015-01-30 23:40
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz always felt children were fair game for Israeli missiles. Now the question is whether he thinks they are fair game for the sexual exploits of his powerful associates and himself. Dershowitz and the UK’s Prince Andrew were accused in a recent court filing of raping a teenage girl who was forced into sexual slavery by ...
Alchemical Banksters
2015-01-30 22:39
This past week, the world's preeminent vultures, the economic power elite, met in Davos to discuss the maintenance of their global fiat hegemony. Highlights included furthering austerity, noting that the serf class can't have air conditioning and cars, as well as cheering on the death of privacy through the rise of technocracy. The degenerate elite, completely out of touch with ...
Men must prove a woman said ’Yes’ under tough new rape rules
2015-01-30 4:54
New guidance will be issued to all police forces and prosecutors as part of a ’toolkit’ to move rape investigations into the 21st century Men accused of date rape will need to convince police that a woman consented to sex as part of a major change in the way sex offences are investigated. The Director of Public Prosecutions said it was ...
4 beheaded in Saudi Arabia less than a week into King Salman's rule
2015-01-30 3:13
Comment: So when will the the "Human rights" promoting liberal west elite decide invade Saudi Arabia like they did Libya? Members of Magic Movement stage a mock execution scene in protest of Saudi Arabia beheading of eight Bangladeshi workers in October 2011. Four people have been executed in Saudi Arabia less than a week after 79-year-old King Salman assumed power following the ...
More News »