Skynet Evolutions - Analysis of UK milsatcom

As the first metal is cut for the UK’s future Skynet 6 military satellites, Richard Thomas takes a closer look at the history of the programme.

The UK opted to create its own military satellite communications (milsatcom) capability back in the 1960s, in a bid to secure its own national requirements against the ever-present competition and, indeed, threat from the Soviet Union during the Cold War. To this end, Skynet was created – Skynet 1A was sent into orbit in 1969 (subsequently followed by 1B in 1970). Launched with the assistance of US-based facilities, and connected to a series of UK military communications sites around the world, the satellites were the first step of an ambitious plan to eventually achieve near-global coverage.

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