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Eutelsat has ordered a new universal communications satellite, dubbed ‘Quantum’, and which represents a major step forward for the industry in terms of flexibility in orbit. The purchase of the software-driven satellite is partly funded by the European Space Agency and the UK’s Space Agency as part of a Public-Private Partnership between the players.
Airbus Defence & Space will build the craft and it should be ready to orbit in 2018.
Eutelsat Quantum will usher in a new era of commercial satellite service by enabling users in government, mobility and data markets to actively define and shape the performance and reach they need from a satellite. Using a software-based design, it will be the first universal satellite to repeatedly adjust to business requirements and to be able to operate in any geographic region in the world. With a new payload, use of proven technology and software control, the Eutelsat Quantum class of satellites will also accelerate time-to-market,” stated Eutelsat.
A note from investment bank Exane-BNP/Paribas says: “Until Quantum, satellite technology was such that management had to estimate the local demand for a given satellite 15 to 20 years out. Likewise satellite technology leaps would happen only every 15 to 20 years, a much longer time frame than for competing terrestrial communication infrastructure technology. The technology onboard Eutelsat Quantum enables much greater flexibility as its beams can be relocated overnight to accommodate for changing demand. It is particularly well adapted to serve the mobility, data and government markets. Note that one single geostationary satellite can cover a third of the planet. Total development and manufacturing costs of €180 million will partly be funded by the UK Space Agency. Including launch costs, we estimate Eutelsat capex for this satellite at around €200 million.”