Thunderbird 5 is International Rescue's geo-stationary orbital satellite. It is used for monitoring radio frequencies for distress signals. It is usually seen to be manned by John Tracy, although we are informed in-series that he takes turns with his brother, Alan and sometimes even Scott on one-month shifts.
Thunderbird 5 is one of, if not the, most important of International Rescue's machines. It has a number of radios covering most frequencies, and speakers that allow the operator to listen to incoming radio signals. Without its sensitive equipment, calls for help could not be detected rendering the whole organisation useless. Thunderbird 5 houses a duplicate control room, used if the main control room is damaged or out of action. Computer systems are independently powered via the adjacent solar energy panels and all data is duplicated from the primary systems.
Like all the other Thunderbirds, it also has the capability to transmit and receive both audio and video.
Transport to and from Thunderbird 5 is performed using Thunderbird 3, which can dock using a custom-designed airlock.
In addition to the spacious control room that features the sensitive listening equipment, it has been observed to have a bedroom where the crew can rest when not on-duty. Rescue calls detected by the station's computer are broadcast to the bedroom for attention of the operator. Furthermore, the Haynes Thunderbirds Manual says there's more to it than just the bedroom; there's space there for more crew members if the need arises, along with other accommodation areas to make Thunderbird 5 John's man-cave.
Diameter (including meteor deflector): 296 feet
Gravity: Previn coil artificial gravity generator: Earth standard (with various options)
Height (including antenna): 272 feet
Length: 400 feet
Orbit: geo-stationary 22,400 miles above the Pacific Ocean
Power: atomic batteries
Reception range: 100 million miles
Weight (standard Earth gravity): 976 tons
Thunderbird 5 appears at least briefly in most episodes, due to its key role in picking up calls for help. Generally, it is limited to receiving and transmitting such requests to Tracy Island, but occasionally its job in a rescue is more involved. In total, it appears in 23 episodes: Trapped in the Sky, Pit of Peril, City Of Fire, The Uninvited, The Mighty Atom, Vault Of Death, Operation Crash-Dive, Martian Invasion, Brink Of Disaster, End Of The Road, Day Of Disaster, 30 Minutes After Noon, The Impostors, The Man From MI.5, Cry Wolf, Danger At Ocean Deep, The Duchess Assignment, Attack of the Alligators!, The Cham-Cham, Atlantic Inferno, Path Of Destruction, Ricochet and Give Or Take A Million.
In Operation Crash-Dive, it was Alan's term of duty on Thunderbird 5. He was responsible for keeping track of Fireflash and was consequently able to report its true location when the aircraft's tracking system reported a false position.
In Ricochet, the space station was undergoing repairs when Rick O'Shea's satellite fell out of orbit, so it never received the call for help. Fortunately, Tin-Tin heard the transmissions on her television in time for a rescue to be effected.
- Throughout the entire two series and two feature lengths (Thunderbirds are Go! and Thunderbird 6), Thunderbird 5 has never been detected or attacked. Whether this feat will stay by the end of the Thunderbirds Are Go! (TV Series) remains unknown. Thunderbird 5 has jamming plates and a meteor deflector, so it's impossible to detect and immune to natural attacks.
- Thunderbird 5 was the last Thunderbird to be created as those behind the scenes were having trouble coming up with a design for it. They eventually got the basic design from the roundhouse which Thunderbird 3 blasts off from on Tracy Island-however Gerry Anderson was never truly satisfied with the final product.
- During the production of the television series, only one model of Thunderbird 5 was built and used.
- In Terror In New York City, Gerry Anderson was in charge of the script and removed John and Thunderbird 5 from the story altogether, as he disliked both John and the design of Thunderbird 5. The emergency call for help was received via the live televised news. Thunderbird 5 was in operation as there was still communication between the Tracy Brothers and Jeff back on Tracy Island.
- Thunderbird 5 is the only Thunderbird to have gone through a major redesign in the 2015 remake. However, if you tilt the new Thunderbird 90 degrees, you can still see some similarity in the design.
Thunderbird 5's RefitEdit
At some point before the rescue of the crew of the Seascape, Thunderbird 5 under went a major refit.