British’s Ministry of Defence is finally narrowing down to four vendors to develop the control rooms for its Skynet satellite program. These teams include Serco, Airbus Defence & Space, BT, and Babcock Integrated Technology. Team Serco is the first that has declared its partners who are Lockheed Martin, CGI UK, and Inmarsat. The other three are still keeping their partners a secret by covering it up with their other partnerships. For instance, Airbus has announced its deal with Northrop Grumman, KBR, QinetiQ, and Leidos to launch a space innovation program.
All the firms are under no circumstance allowed to disclose details of their agreement with the MoD to the public. This move is to conjure up the fact that the Skynet program is for equipping the government and military with an impenetrable communication system.
Airbus has already started operations with a new satellite known as Skynet 6A, whose plan is to launch by 2025. This move comes after the signing of the contract between Airbus and MoD to create the spacecraft while awaiting the green light by the government to forge ahead. Additionally, other pillars of the program are the Enduring Capability project for communication purposes and the Secure Telemetry Tracking Command (STTC) project for control operations and directing satellites.
Plans are underway to define the activities that facilitate the operations of the Enduring Capability. These activities are then due for presentation to the MoD for approval and integration with the other projects. In effect, MoD plans to avail of the qualification requirements for the advanced communication program.
An industry executive highlights that securing the deal for Enduring Capability requirement is vital for satellite making. The executive adds that the agreement allows the firm to realize customers’ communication needs. After sealing the deal, British hopes that Skynet and related programs can rise from the economic downturn due to the pandemic by minimizing costs.
The British are evaluating the future use of Skynet 6 spacecraft to host GNSS as a method of cutting costs. Airbus, on the other hand, is conducting operations as part of a financial measure to propel Skynet to manufacture a constellation of satellites to provide military details and arrangements.
To conclude, Airbus hopes to obtain a financial backup from MoD through the current economic initiative as it develops the ground infrastructure for Skynet. MoD hopes that it can retain the full ownership of this capability to create room for innovation and make an upgrade of the equipment therein.