Skynet 5D
Skynet 5D in orbit, CGI.jpg
A CGI impression of Skynet 5D in orbit
Mission typeMilitary communications
OperatorAstrium Services
On behalf of British Ministry of Defence
COSPAR ID2012-075A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.39034Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration15 years
Spacecraft properties
BusEurostar 3000S
Launch mass4,800 kilograms (10,600 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date19 December 2012, 21:49 (2012-12-19UTC21:49Z) UTC
RocketAriane 5ECA VA211
Launch siteKourou ELA-3
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
Longitude53° East

Skynet 5D is a military communications satellite operated by Airbus Defence and Space on behalf of the British Ministry of Defence. It was the last of four Skynet 5 satellites to be launched.


The Skynet 5D spacecraft was constructed by Astrium, based on the Eurostar 3000S satellite bus. It had a mass at launch of approximately 4,800 kilograms (10,600 lb), and is designed to operate for at least 15 years.[1] Its 34-metre (112 ft) solar arrays will generate a minimum of 6 kilowatts[2] to power its UHF and X-band communications systems. The satellite's payload includes jamming countermeasures.[3]

The Ministry of Defence described the satellite as having a "key role in gathering intelligence on operations", as well as communications.[4]


Skynet 5D was launched by an Ariane 5ECA carrier rocket flying from ELA-3 at Kourou. The launch occurred at 21:49 UTC on 19 December 2012.[5] Skynet 5D was one of two satellites aboard the rocket, the other being Mexsat Bicentenario, which was located below it; Skynet 5D was mounted atop a Sylda 5 adaptor.[2]


The launch placed Skynet 5D into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, from which was planned to raise itself into geostationary orbit.[5] The spacecraft was expected to be placed at a longitude of 25 degrees East.[2]


  1. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Skynet 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "A Satellite Launch for the British MoD and Mexico" (PDF). Arianespace. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 November 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Skynet-5D: Military satellite's classified tech". BBC News. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  4. ^ "Sky's the Limit for New Military Satellite - Paradigm Agrees Deal with UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for Fourth Skynet 5 Satellite". Ministry of Defence & EADS Astrium (Press release). 9 March 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  5. ^ a b Bergin, Chris (19 December 2012). "Ariane 5 ECA launches Skynet 5D and Mexsat 3/Bicentenario". Retrieved 21 December 2012.