PARIS — A know-how demonstration satellite tv for pc for which SES will lead the event may very well be a prototype of a constellation by the satellite tv for pc operator offering quantum-encrypted communications.
The European Space Company 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 firms 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. Space provides a way of finishing up QKD utilizing laser communications over longer distances than what is feasible with terrestrial techniques.
“Eagle-1 is a serious constructing block of a serious new European quantum key system. It’s the primary satellite tv for pc quantum cryptography system for European cybersecurity,” stated ESA Director Normal Josef Aschbacher on the signing occasion. “It’s additionally a serious step in the direction of a safe and scalable European quantum communications infrastructure.”
The spacecraft, weighing about 300 kilograms, will likely be constructed by Italian firm Sitael, with Tesat offering the optical communications terminals. The spacecraft today techs will function in a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit, making a number of passes a day over European floor stations that will likely be enough for testing, stated Alberto Rubio, ESA mission supervisor. The launch will likely be on a European car, he stated, as a part of a contract that will likely be introduced within the close to future.
The price of this system, together with the satellite tv for pc and floor techniques, 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 help from the European Fee.
The applied sciences demonstrated on Eagle-1 may very well 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 today techs 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 government of SES, stated his firm is concerned in Eagle-1 due to the potential for future industrial techniques separate from the E.U. effort. “We predict that there’s commercialization potential of this technique, and we are going to 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 world foundation.”
“It’s an important mission in and of itself, however I feel it has broader implications and matches effectively different packages and initiatives which are ongoing, both inside SES, inside ESA or throughout the Fee,” he added.
Eagle-1 shouldn’t be 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 today techs the European Fee shouldn’t be concerned within the Arqit program,” stated Viau. The U.Okay. is now not part of the European today techs Union.
Eagle-1 was not the one quantum communications mission introduced throughout the convention. On Sept. 19, Thales Alenia Space introduced a memorandum of understanding with Singapore-based SpeQtral to conduct assessments involving the SpeQtral-1 satellite tv for pc and floor gear developed by Thales Alenia. The satellite tv for pc is slated for launch in 2024 with the assessments happening by 2025.