Airbus has completed the critical design review (CDR) of the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) future military communication satellite, Skynet 6A.

The milestone achievement marks that the Skynet 6A contract is on track, with more than 400 people working on the programme.

The company is working in close collaboration with the Defence Digital team and the next steps involve the delivery of the Communications Structure, which is expected by the end of this year.

Airbus Defence and Space UK managing director Richard Franklin said: “Achieving this crucial milestone is tangible proof that in partnership with Defence Digital in the MoD we are firmly on track and making great progress on this flagship programme.

“We now have more than 400 people working on the project at our sites in Stevenage, Portsmouth and Hawthorn.

“We are building Skynet 6A with its unique military communications payload entirely in the UK and we currently have more than 45 small to medium-sized enterprises and subcontractors helping to make sure we remain on target for launch in 2025.”

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Airbus completed the preliminary design review (PDR) of Skynet 6A in January 2021.

Awarded in July 2020, the Skynet 6A contract aimed to supplement the existing fleet of four Skynet 5 satellites and improve the UK’s mil-Satcom capabilities.

The Skynet 6A satellite will feature the company’s electric orbit raising propulsion and electric station-keeping systems.

Airbus will carry out the satellite integration at its facilities in the UK, followed by tests at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) Space testing facilities in Harwell, Oxfordshire.