The £500m investment will support the development of a new military communications satellite.
Chloe Shakesby

Government sets 'bold new ambition' with £500m investment in space technology

A UK space company has received a £500m boost from the UK government to support a new military communications satellite.

Airbus Defence and Space, which employs approximately 4,000 people across the country, has received the funding to support its SKYNET 6A project, which will allow Armed Forces to communicate more efficiently and securely.

SKYNET 6A is a design that will use the new Airbus Eurostar Neo telecommunications satellite platform coupled with electric orbit raising propulsion and station keeping systems.

The government has said that the project will help to sustain 550 jobs.

It also said that it intends to invest more into space technology across the next decade to help strengthen the country’s defences.

Ben Wallace, defence secretary, commented: “To safeguard our military on operations around the world we need to ensure that we protect their communications on land, sea or in air.

“The newest contested frontier is space and so we need to provide resilience and better communications for our forces.

“SKYNET 6A is one of many solutions we shall be investing in over the next decade.

“This government recognises the urgent need to defend and promote space capabilities.

“This new satellite will continue to be controlled from the UK’s existing ground stations, allowing for greater flexibility and security.

“Effective and secure satellite communications are essential to support troops on the ground, and with the development of SKYNET 6A our personnel can continue to rely on space for secure communications until 2040 and beyond.

“Built and assembled in the UK, the SKYNET 6A contract will sustain 550 highly skilled jobs, making good on the government’s commitment to drive employment across the UK.

“Airbus Defence and Space is the UK arm of the Airbus firm. Completing the work in the UK will ensure SKYNET 6A remains a sovereign capability with the very best technology the private sector has to offer.”

Science minister Amanda Solloway added: “Space technology plays an important role in supporting our military and keeping us safe, while also boosting the UK’s economy and enabling world-leading science and research.

“With this major investment in Skynet 6A, the development of the National Satellite Test Facility and the launch of a dedicated innovation programme, we are setting a bold new ambition for the UK in space.”

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