Airbus has completed the preliminary design review (PDR) for the Skynet 6A project, which involves delivering a military communications satellite for the UK.

The project has secured approval to advance to the next phase, which leads to the Critical Design Review (CDR).

In July, Airbus Defence and Space secured a more than £500m contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to extend and enhance the Skynet fleet.

The contract involves the development, manufacture, cyber protection, assembly, integration, test and launch of the Skynet 6A.

The satellite is slated to launch in 2025.

Commenting on the completion of the first key phase of the Skynet 6A project, Airbus Defence and Space UK managing director Richard Franklin said: “The progress we are making in building the UK MoD’s next-generation military satellite and getting to this stage, despite current restrictions, really highlights the flexible and strong working relationship we have built with the Defence Digital team.

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“Skynet 6A, to be built entirely in the UK, will significantly enhance the UK’s milsatcoms capability, building on the heritage of the four Skynet 5 satellites which were also built by Airbus, and which are all still operating perfectly in orbit.”

The Skynet 6A satellite will be based on Airbus’ Eurostar Neo telecommunications satellite. It is expected to provide greater capacity and versatility than Skynet 5 satellites.

The satellite will be integrated at Airbus facilities in the UK, following which, it will be tested using RAL Space testing facilities at Harwell in Oxfordshire.