A powerful novel telecommunications satellite for the UK military has blasted into orbit. The Sky net system, which includes the radio equipment deployed on ships, on vehicles and in the hands of troops, is the UK's single biggest space project. The five-tonne Skynet-5D platform was sent up on an Ariane missile from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. It complements three others already in operation, enabling British forces to stay linked over most of the globe.
UK forces pay an annual service charge for which they get assured bandwidth, with spare capacity then sold to friendly forces. These third party clients include the NATO allies such as the US. According to Simon Kershaw, executive director of government communications at Astrium Services, using Sky net, we also support something called the High Integrity Telecommunication System (HITS) for the UK Cabinet Office.