March 28, 2023


Athena-Fidus was launched on 6 February 2014 from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana during an Ariane 5 ECA double-launch. The other passenger was a 6,300-kg ABS (Asia Broadcast Satellite, based in Hong Kong) satellite built by Space System Loral. The Athena-Fidus spacecraft was transported from Cannes to Kourou in an Antonov cargo plane on 9 December 2013.

Le satellite Athena Fidus au Centre Spatial Guyanais - © CNES/ESA/Arianespace/Optique Vidéo CSG, 2014
The Athena-Fidus satellite at the Guiana Space Centre.
© CNES/ESA/Arianespace/ CSG photo and video department, 2014


32 minutes after launch, after separating from the launcher, the satellite was inserted into its geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The positioning and initial testing phases were carried out by Thales Alenia Space from Cannes and Telespazio from Fucino.

Positioning operations lasted 11 days and involved 3 different 400 N burns from the apogee kick motor (AKM) to place the satellite in its operational geosynchronous orbit.

Then came the initial testing phase to determine the integrity of the platform and its French and Italian payloads. It essentially consisted of EHF and Ka-band performance tests performed from the France Sud base for the French mission and from the Fucino and Vigna Di Valle stations for the Italian counterpart. This initial testing phase lasted for about 3 weeks, during which CNES provided access to S-band network stations.

Station sol pendant la recette en vol, site militaire de France Sud à Bram - © CNES
Ground station during initial test phase, France Sud military base in Bram


Once this phase was completed, the industrial sites and military operational stations shared control for a day, before it was entirely transferred to the operative teams under the supervision of French National Defence (Joint Direction of Infrastructure Networks and Information Systems [EMA/DIRISI], and Defence Procurement Agency [DGA]).