SES considering quantum cryptography satellite system

PARIS — A know-how demonstration satellite tv for pc for which SES will lead the event might be a prototype of a constellation by the satellite tv for pc operator offering quantum-encrypted communications.

The European Space Agency and SES formally signed the contact for Eagle-1 throughout a ceremony on the Worldwide Astronautical Congress right here. SES will lead a consortium of 20 corporations to construct and function the smallsat, scheduled for launch in 2024 for a three-year mission.

The principle function of Eagle-1 is to check long-distance quantum key distribution (QKD), a core know-how for quantum encryption. House provides a method of finishing up QKD utilizing laser communications over longer distances than what is feasible with terrestrial methods.

“Eagle-1 is a significant constructing block of a significant new European quantum key system. It’s the primary satellite tv for pc quantum cryptography system for European cybersecurity,” stated ESA Director Common Josef Aschbacher on the signing occasion. “It’s additionally a significant step in the direction of a safe and scalable European quantum communications infrastructure.”

The spacecraft, weighing about 300 kilograms, might be constructed by Italian firm Sitael, with Tesat offering the optical communications terminals. The spacecraft will function in a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit, making a number of passes a day over European floor stations that might be adequate for testing, stated Alberto Rubio, ESA mission supervisor. The launch might be on a European automobile, he stated, as a part of a contract that might be introduced within the close to future.

The price of this system, together with the satellite tv for pc and floor methods, is about 130 million euros ($130 million), stated Elodie Viau, ESA director of telecommunications. Eight ESA member states — Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland — are contributing to the mission, together with assist from the European Fee.

The applied sciences demonstrated on Eagle-1 might be integrated into the European Fee’s deliberate safe connectivity satellite tv for pc system as a part of the European Quantum Communication Initiative, or EuroQCI, program. “EuroQCI is a European Union initiative to construct, develop and deploy this pan-European quantum safe communications community,” stated Gilles Lequeux of the European Fee. “Because of this we see this Eagle-1 as a key step and for which we contribute financially.”

Steve Collar, chief govt of SES, stated his firm is concerned in Eagle-1 due to the potential for future industrial methods separate from the E.U. effort. “We expect that there’s commercialization potential of this method, and we’ll begin that commercialization with Eagle-1,” he stated. “If that appears good, and we expect that there’s enterprise there, that ought to result in a small constellation of satellites that may ship these providers on a worldwide foundation.”

“It’s an important mission in and of itself, however I feel it has broader implications and suits nicely different applications and initiatives which are ongoing, both inside SES, inside ESA or inside the Fee,” he added.

Eagle-1 just isn’t the one QKD satellite tv for pc mission in Europe or involving ESA. The company is working with Arqit, based mostly in the UK, on quantum encryption applied sciences for that firm’s deliberate satellite tv for pc system.

The most important programmatic distinction between the Eagle-1 mission and Arqit’s QKDSat is Eagle-1’s ties to EuroQCI. “Within the Arqit mission the are some non-E.U. member states additionally concerned, and subsequently the European Fee just isn’t concerned within the Arqit program,” stated Viau. The U.Ok. is now not part of the European Union.

Eagle-1 was not the one quantum communications mission introduced in the course of the convention. On Sept. 19, Thales Alenia House introduced a memorandum of understanding with Singapore-based SpeQtral to conduct assessments involving the SpeQtral-1 satellite tv for pc and floor tools developed by Thales Alenia. The satellite tv for pc is slated for launch in 2024 with the assessments happening by 2025.

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