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Airbus Defence and Space has signed the first contract for the fully reconfigurable Quantum satellite with Eutelsat and the European Space Agency (ESA). The Quantum satellite will be operated and commercialised by Eutelsat and will be able to adapt to new demands in coverage, bandwidth, power, frequency configurability and even change its orbital position.
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Quantum will be the first generation of universal satellites able to serve any region of the world and adjust to new business without the user needing to procure and launch an entirely new satellite. Featuring phased array antennas and flexible connectivity, which is fully reconfigurable in orbit, Quantum will be able to adjust its coverage and capacity to suit customers’ needs as and when they change.
“Eutelsat Quantum is the first satellite that can be fully reconfigured in orbit,” said François Auque, Head of Space Systems. “With this satellite, Airbus Defence and Space will deliver yet another innovation for Eutelsat, marking a breakthrough in the telecommunications satellites and following electric propulsion with EUTELSAT 172B and broadband access with KA-SAT.”
The new design is a first in the commercial satellite industry. It features software defined ‘receive’ and ‘transmit’ coverages in Ku-band, including on-board jamming detection and mitigation. It allows customers to maintain access to premium capacity throughout the 15 year lifetime of the satellite by allowing footprint shaping and steering, frequency adjustment and bandwidth reassignment. This ability to track or establish new markets, mirror or complement another satellite anywhere in geostationary orbit will transform fleet management and result in a significantly more efficient use of resources.
Quantum builds on the payload technology developed by Airbus Defence and Space in the UK under the ESA Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems programme (ARTES 33.3) and supported by the UK Space Agency.
British Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson said: “Space is a great British success story and this partnership between Airbus Defence and Space and Eutelsat to build cutting-edge telecommunications satellites here in the UK is testament to that. Our investment in collaborative space science means the UK has the know-how and technical expertise to provide exciting and innovative space solutions that will drive growth and create jobs.”
Michel de Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Eutelsat, said: “Eutelsat Quantum is the first of a new generation of satellite that has agility, adaptability, responsiveness and performance at its core. It is the culmination of many years of research and evaluation driven by Eutelsat and marks a new age of maturity for the commercial satellite business. We are proud to be spearheading this initiative in partnership with ESA and Airbus Defence and Space with the support of the UK Space Agency.”
Signing the contract at the opening of ESA’s new facility at Harwell, Oxford, Colin Paynter, Head of Airbus Defence and Space in the UK said: “Developing Quantum to be fully flexible and reconfigurable at any stage in its lifetime is a truly disruptive technology. This success is a direct result of industry working with ESA and the UK Space Agency to maintain and advance our lead in advanced satellite telecommunications.”
The Eutelsat Quantum satellite will be primed and manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in the UK and use a new small geo satellite platform called GMPT from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (UK). Both developments are supported by the UK Space Agency.