LONDON, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- A fourth British military communications satellite built by Europe's aerospace company Astrium has been launched into orbit.
The satellite, the fourth launched since 2007 as part of the Skynet 5 program, was sent into orbit from a facility in French Guiana under a $6.5 billion Private Finance Initiative program.
"The Skynet program provides vital support to the armed forces," said Col. Mike Griffiths, head of Networks for the Defense Equipment and Support organization of Britain's Defense Ministry. "The launch of this latest satellite will deliver additional global communications capacity to support our operations."
The satellite, designated Skynet 5D, will travel 765 million miles while in orbit at a speed of about 6,200 miles per hour.
The Skynet constellation of satellites is operated by Astrium Services through a concession arrangement in force until 2022. The contract includes Astrium Service's provision of service personnel with the ground terminals to provide all beyond-line-of-sight communications to Britain's military.