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Franco-Italian satellite officially commissioned into service

A satellite for high speed military and security data transmission is now operational after completing in-orbit testing.

By Richard Tomkins
Franco-Italian satellite officially commissioned into service
French-Italian military communications satellite Athena-Fidus, or Access on Theaters for European Allied Nations-French-Italian Dual-Use Satellite, has completed in-orbit tests. (CNES/ill/David Ducros)

A French-Italian military communications satellite in orbit has officially been commissioned into service by France’s Directorate General of Armaments. Athena-Fidus, or Access on Theaters for European Allied Nations-French-Italian Dual-Use Satellite, was sent aloft last month from Kourou aboard an Ariane 5 rocket and has been undergoing tests to validate its operation and the performance of the French and Italian communications payloads.

“Athena-Fidus brings new capabilities to the field of very high-speed satellite telecommunications to meet the growing defense and security needs of France and Italy.” DGA said.

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The two countries each contributed $193.1 million for the geostationary satellite, which operates in the Ka band and which features state-of-the-art civilian technology for high rates of data transmission. The prime contractor for the satellite was Thales Alenia Space.

The program involved a partnership between between DGA and France’s national space research center, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, and on the Italian side a partnership between the General Secretariat for Defense and ASI, the Italian space agency.

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