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TNO, Airbus Netherlands To Build Optical Ground Station for Space-Based Quantum Key Distribution System

Home Contract Awards TNO, Airbus Netherlands To Build Optical Ground Station for Space-Based Quantum Key Distribution System
space tech expo agreement

The SES-led EAGLE-1 consortium has selected TNO and Airbus Netherlands to design and build an optical ground station for the program.

The parties finalized the agreement at the Space Tech Expo in Bremen, Germany.

According to SES Chief Technology Officer Milton Torres, the new partners will support the program’s mission of securing an end-to-end solution for quantum communications in Europe.

Funded by the European Space Agency and the European Commission, the EAGLE-1 project aims to deploy quantum key distribution technology via satellite within the European region, SES said.

The program’s vision is to provide European Union member states with advanced cyber protection and a secure quantum communication infrastructure, the organization added.

Under their contract with the consortium, TNO will design the ground station’s adaptive optics and system engineering while Airbus will provide the required support technologies and control platform. The latter will also take charge of the capabilities’ implementation.

The collaborative effort will require critical contributions from subcontractors such as Officina Stellare, who will supply the telescope and dome designs. Additionally, Celestia-STS will work with TNO and TESAT to engineer the optical digital modem while Demcon will develop the adaptive optics’ wavefront sensor.

SES said the envisioned optical ground station will feature fast adaptive optics, accurate mirrors, a fiber coupling, a laser beacon system and a stabilized telescope.

Once it becomes operational, the station will be able to receive quantum encryption keys from the EAGLE-1 satellite, the company added.

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