1945-1991: Cold War world Wiki


Skynet IV\Skynet 4 (AKA: The "Zircon spy satellite").
Category. Statistic.
Launch vehicle. The Space Shuttle.
Launch date. 1988-89?
Launch site. A Space Shuttle lanch site in the USA.
Ceased operations. Canceled in 1987 after it's blueprints were leaked to the British media.
Owner(s). British MoD.
Major contractor(s)  Marconi Space and Defence Systems.
Is it still in orbit. No.
Launch mass. N/A.
Nationality(s). British.
Satellite type. signals intelligence satellite.
Links. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Zircon_(satellite) and https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Zircon_affair


The United States satellites were engaged in monitoring SIGINT traffic elsewhere in South America related to war torn El Salvador.

GCHQ therefore decided to produce a UK-designed-and-built signals intelligence satellite, to be called Zircon, a code-name derived from zirconium silicate, a diamond substitute. Its function was to intercept radio and other signals from the USSR, Europe and other areas.

The Zircon affair was an incident in 1986 and 1987 caused by the planned broadcast of a television programme about the ultimately cancelled Zircon signals intelligence satellite. It raised many important issues in the British constitution particularly around parliamentary privilege and "gagging orders".

Also see[]