Thales Alenia Space has signed a contract with the French and Italian space agencies, CNES and ASI, to develop, construct, test and deliver in orbit a broadband civil and military telecommunications satellite, Athena-Fidus. The Athena-Fidus program (Access on theatres for European allied forces nations-French Italian dual use satellite) includes a geostationary satellite operating in the Ka- and EHF bands and its associated ground control segment.
It will employ the highest-performance civil communications standards, DVB-RCS and DBV-S2, to enhance transmission capacity and service availability. The satellite will be used by the French and Italian ministries of defence, as well as civil security agencies in these countries, including homeland security, police and fire departments. Furthermore, Athena-Fidus will complement the capabilities already offered by the Syracuse and Sicral systems. The Athena-Fidus and Sicral-2 programs are the first European cooperative successes in the MILSATCOM domain and pave the way for tomorrow’s “Europe of Defence”; Thales Alenia Space is also a major partner in the Sicral-2 program.
Based on a Spacebus 4000 B2 platform, the Athena-Fidus satellite will weigh over three metric tons at launch, and has a design life exceeding 15 years. It will carry two payloads, one each for France and Italy. The satellite should be launched in 2013 by Arianespace. French Space Agency CNES is managing the programme in France, while the Italian space agency ASI is responsible for the program in Italy.