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Volume 114: debated on Wednesday 8 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 16 March, Official Report, column 362, if he will list those (a) United Kingdom or (b) United Kingdom collaborative communication satellites which remain live in a technical sense; and what was the purpose of each such satellite.

The only United Kingdom communications satellite that is still technically "live" is MoD's SKYNET IIB. This suffered a partial failure some years ago, with the result that its orbital position can no longer be controlled. However, it is still technically capable of relaying military telecommunications traffic between stations that happen to be within its field of view.The United Kingdom also has an interest in communications satellites developed by the European Space Agency. These were developed under collaborative arrangements and manufactured by the United Kingdom and other member nations. They comprise the orbital test satellite, (OTS 2), the European communications satellite, (ECS 1 and 2), and the maritime ECS, (Marecs B2). The ECS and Marecs satellites are developments of the original OTS technology demonstrator satellite, and have now been leased to the Eutelsat and Inmarsat organisations for operational use. Although currently "retired", OTS is still capable of carrying telecommunications traffic.