The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded SpaceX a contract to launch the military’s Skynet 6A communications satellite. The satellite’s name is like the Artificial Intelligence character from the 1984 Sci-Fi film The Terminator but it really is not named after the film. Before the film was released, the real Skynet was in operation for decades. U.K. deployed the first Skynet satellite in the 1960’s.
While the real Skynet observing Earth from outer space is not a ‘self-aware robot assassin’ like the film depicts, the United Kingdom’s Skynet satellite fleet features advanced technology that the military and government agencies use to communicate reliably. The origins of Skynet began in the 1960’s in the midst of the Cold War when the United States and Soviet Russia were competing for supremacy during the Space Race to the lunar surface, Britain did not want to fall behind so it deployed the first satellite called 'Skynet 1A'. Since, they have launched fifteen Skynet iterations and some satellites are still operational.
More than 50 years later, U.K.’s military looks forward to launching the most advanced Skynet iteration yet. Skynet 6A will launch atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Geostationary Transfer Orbit sometime in 2025. The new satellite is manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space, it started production in October. The satellite is designed to operate for 15 years and will cost the U.K. over £500 million ($679.5 million), according to MoD. “This upgrade will deliver more capacity, speed and greater versatility than its predecessor system. With an ever-increasing focus on the importance of real-time information gathering, the growth of drone technology, and the requirement for all parts of the U.K. Armed Forces to be able to communicate and coordinate, the capabilities offered by Skynet 6 will continue to ensure that these needs are met,” MoD representatives said.
UK @DefenceHQ's Skynet 6A satellite will be launched into GEO orbit in 2025 by a @SpaceXFalcon 9 rocket, UK MoD said at @SMi_Group @GlobalMilSatCom. Decision based on value for money & schedule credibility, prime contractor @AirbusSpace said. pic.twitter.com/NJtwISsKit— Peter B. de Selding (@pbdes) November 2, 2021
Featured Image Source: Airbus Defence and Space