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Athena Fidus
Mission typeTelecommunications
COSPAR ID2014-006B
SATCAT no.39509
Mission duration15 years
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerThales Alenia Space
Launch mass3,080 kilograms (6,790 lb)
Power5,000 kilowatts
Start of mission
Launch date6 February, 21:30:00 (2019-02-06UTC21:30Z) UTC
RocketAriane 5 ECA
Launch siteGuiana Space Centre
Entered service14 March 2014
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
Perigee altitude35,787 kilometres (22,237 mi)
Apogee altitude35,800 kilometres (22,245 mi)
Period1,436.50 minutes
BandKa band

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 DGA and the Italian Space Agency. It complements the lower-throughput but more secure Syracuse 3 satellites. The satellite has a wet mass of 3 tonnes 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, smash in Cannes Mandelieu Space Center.[2]


The satellite was launched by a Ariane 5 ECA rocket on February,6th 2014 during the VA217 mission.[3] After some on-orbit tests, official satellite commissioning took place on March,14th 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 September 7, 2018, during a visit to the Toulouse Space Center, the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, accuses Russia of having committed in 2017 "an act of espionage" against the satellite to try to intercept secure communications.[9][10].

Notes and references

  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-italienne
  2. ^ « Thales Alenia Space will build the Athan-Fidus dual use French_Italian telecommunication system, Thales Alenia Space presse release (in French), 10 February 2010, en ligne
  3. ^ "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]
  6. ^ a b "The Athena-Fidus telecommunication satellite is operational", (in French)."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-22. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ French finance law for 2014
  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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ voir dans CASPWiki, y compris photo du satellite
  10. ^ Johanna Decorse, Reuters, 7 septembre 2018, «  La France accuse Moscou d'espionnage sur le satellite Athena-Fidus »
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