Mission typeTelecommunications
COSPAR ID2014-006B Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.39509
Mission duration15 years (planned)
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerThales Alenia Space
Launch mass3080 kg
Power5000 watts
Start of mission
Launch date6 February 2014, 21:30:00 UTC
RocketAriane 5 ECA
Launch siteCentre Spatial Guyanais, ELA-3
Entered service14 March 2014
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeGeostationary orbit
Epoch14 March 2014

Athena-Fidus (Access on theatres for European allied forces nations-French Italian dual use satellite) is a French-Italian telecommunication satellite providing high-throughput secure communications to both nation's armed forces and their emergency services. It was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space under the supervision of CNES, the Direction générale de l'armement (DGA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). It complements the lower-throughput but more secure Syracuse 3 satellites. The satellite has a wet mass of 3080 kg and was placed on geostationary orbit in 2014. Its expected lifetime is 15 years.


The manufacturing contract was awarded in February 2010 to Thales Alenia Space.[1] The satellite bus is a Spacebus 4000B2, manufactured in Cannes Mandelieu Space Center.[2]


The satellite was launched by a Ariane 5 ECA rocket on 6 February 2014 during the VA217 mission.[3] After some on-orbit tests, official satellite commissioning took place on 14 March 2014.[4]


Although this is a common program, each country operates its own share of the payload. The satellite provides an encrypted, 3 Gbit/s throughput, using mostly Ka-band links.[5] It carries 14 antennas including 7 mobile spot antennas, enabling positioning of steerable 1750-km diameter spot beams over operational theaters requiring a high bandwidth.[6] France owns five beams and Italy, two. The system will enable communication with deployable ground stations (420 for France[7]), and with drones.[6]

Ground Segment

The ground segment for the French part of the capacity is called Comcept. Comcept will provide a network of fixed and deployable ground stations using full-IP (Internet Protocol) technology. The system includes high-data-rate (HDR) ground stations which are installed in a transportable shelter and provide a speed of approximately 10 Mbit/s. The Comcept system is provided by Airbus Defence and Space and Actia Sodielec.[8]

Russian espionage

On 7 September 2018, during a visit to the Toulouse Space Centre, the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, accused Russia of having committed "an act of espionage" in 2017 against the satellite to try to intercept secure communications.[9][10]


  1. ^ « The Athena- Fidus satellite : a model of european French-Italian cooperation », in Aeroplans, 16 February 2010 (in French), Le satellite Athena-Fidus - un exemple de coopération européenne franco-italienneArchived 21 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ «Thales Alenia Space will build the Athena-Fidus dual use French_Italian telecommunication system, Thales Alenia Space presse release (in French), 10 February 2010, en ligne
  3. ^ Bergin, Chris (6 February 2014). "Ariane 5 ECA launches with ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus".
  4. ^ Direction générale de l'armement press release (in French).[1]
  5. ^ CNES press release (in French)[2][permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b "The Athena-Fidus telecommunication satellite is operational", (in French)."Le satellite de télécommunications Athena-Fidus est opérationnel - Air&Cosmos". Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Projet de loi de finances pour 2014: Défense: équipement des forces et excellence technologique des industries de défense". 3 April 2023.
  8. ^ "Press Release: Airbus Defence and Space marks first all-IP ultra-high-speed satellite communication link for French Armed Forces". Archived from the original on 22 August 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  9. ^ "Athena-Fidus — Cannes Aero Spatial Patrimoine".
  10. ^ Johanna Decorse, Reuters, 7 septembre 2018, « La France accuse Moscou d'espionnage sur le satellite Athena-Fidus »