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6 February 2014, the French-Italian Athena-Fidus satellite soared skyward from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on its way to geostationary orbit 36,000 km above the Indian Ocean. Its mission is to deliver fast-broadband telecommunications to the French and Italian armed forces, as well as to civil protection teams in both countries. Thanks to Athena-Fidus, French and Italian army chiefs of staff are able to organize videoconferences, conduct remote medical diagnoses or downlink imagery from unmanned aerial vehicles. These capabilities are also accessible by civil protection teams in both countries, to tackle a crisis. To accomplish its mission, Athena-Fidus has 14 antennas operating in the government Ka band, which accommodates encrypted broadband transmissions. This configuration supports very high data rates of some 3 gigabits per second.
Athena-Fidus was developed jointly by CNES and the Italian space agency ASI, in partnership with the French defence procurement agency DGA and the Italian defence secretariat Segredifesa. Thales Alenia Space was the satellite prime contractor.