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UK set for military space launch

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Lounge' started by gkd_uk, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. gkd_uk

    gkd_uk Moderator Moderator Webmaster

    The UK is due to continue the upgrade to its military satellite communications system with the launch of a new spacecraft on Friday.

    The Skynet 5B platform will ride into orbit atop an Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport, in French Guiana.

    It will join the 5A satellite lofted successfully in March and which is already handling secure traffic for UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The £3.6bn Skynet project represents the UK's single biggest space venture.

    The investment includes replacing and updating control centres, and the major antennas and terminals used by military ships, land vehicles and planes to communicate through the satellites.

    The 5B spacecraft is waiting on the launch pad in Kourou for a flight timed to start at 1904 local time (2204 GMT).

    "We've had an incredibly smooth launch campaign so far, and now we're in the final stages," said Patrick Wood, who has led the development of both spacecraft for manufacturer EADS Astrium.

    "There are a series of umbilical connections and we communicate with 5B night and day. We're doing final battery charging, making sure it is optimised for launch," he told BBC News.

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