Thales Alenia Space has announced that the French-Italian dual broadband telecommunications Access on Theatres for European allied forces Nations-French Italian Dual Use Satellite (Athena-Fidus)satellite will be launched shortly by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, using an Ariane 5 launch vehicle. The company is the program prime contractor on behalf of the French and Italian space agencies, CNES and ASI, and the French and Italian defense ministries (procurement agency DGA for France and Segredifesa for Italy).

Thales Alenia Space is in charge of the development, construction, testing and in-orbit delivery of the satellite. Telespazio, a joint venture of Finmeccanica (67%) and Thales (33%), supplies the ground mission system, as well as launch support services. Satellite positioning in orbit will be handled jointly by Telespazio from Fucino and by Thales Alenia Space from Cannes.

The Athena-Fidus program includes a geostationary satellite with EHF and Ka-band transponders and the ground control segment, located at a French military base. The satellite deploys the latest civil telecom standards, DVB-RCS and DVB-S2, to ensure optimum transmission capacity and service availability. It will provide data transmission services to the French and Italian defense ministries, as well as to these countries' security organizations (civil security, homeland security, police, fire fighters, etc.). Built on a Spacebus 4000 platform, the satellite will weigh over 3,000 kg at launch and offers a design life exceeding 15 years.

"The launch of Athena-Fidus, followed at the end of the year by Sicral 2, is the culmination of the first concrete collaboration in Europe, between Italy and France, for a military and dual space telecom program," said Bertrand Maureau, Vice President for Telecommunications at Thales Alenia Space. "This new and highly innovative satellite will naturally pave the way for government broadband contracts. We hope that Thales Alenia Space will be able to offer its experience and expertise to other government customers, whether for its proven dual technology solutions, or to support the development of new partnerships."