The Ministry of Defence's latest high-tech communication satellite, Skynet 5B, successfully lifted-off from Kourou in French Guiana, South America, last night, Wednesday 14 November 2007.
The Skynet 5B communications satellite will beam signals between UK forces deployed around the world. With its world beating antennae technology, greater power and data rates, the satellite, will provide a significant boost to operational capability for our forces, both on land and at sea.
The Skynet programme is also being used to help provide free messages between service personnel on operations and their families and friends.
Baroness Taylor, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support said:
"This is very good news for our armed forces. Once complete, the Skynet programme will bring significant improvement in our global communications systems, especially for deployed operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and at sea.
"This Private Finance Initiative deal is an excellent example of how partnerships between MOD and industry should work."
The satellite is the second of three to be launched under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) programme worth over £3bn. Skynet 5 is the groundbreaking next generation of military satellite communications programme for the MOD.
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 the prime contractor on Ariane 5.
Last night's launch 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 - an in-orbit spare.
Fran�ois Auque, Chief Executive Officer of Astrium, said:
"Skynet 5 remains a flagship programme for Astrium, showcasing our combined capabilities across all aspects of space services, satellites and space transportation. The launch of Skynet 5B will add another level to the service we provide to the UK MOD - a service already greatly enhanced following the success of Skynet 5A which is providing the next generation of advanced military satellite communications."
Malcolm Peto, Managing Director of Paradigm, added:
"We are all very excited about the launch of Skynet 5B. The programme continues to deliver success and is an excellent example of what can be achieved with co-operation between industry and the UK Ministry of Defence.
"The introduction of 5B will further enhance the way that Paradigm delivers mission critical communications services to our deployed military customers. We will be faster and better than ever at meeting our customers' operational requirements."
Source: Skynet satellite blasts into orbit
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