Advanced Television

Eagle-1 could start new fleet for SES

September 26, 2022

SES recently announced it was leading a consortium which was developing Eagle-1, described as a ‘quantum cryptography technology’ demonstration satellite. Launching in 2024 it will test quantum key distribution via satellite, and designed to be super-secure. It could lead to a new fleet of satellites for SES.

The agreement between SES, the European Space Agency (ESA), the EU and the SES partners, was signed at the International Astronautical Congress on September 22nd.

SES CEO Steve Collar said that his team were evaluating the commercialisation potential of the new concept.

In essence, the test will see how well quantum key distribution performs and which depends on laser communications over long distances.

Collar stated that if the current development work went well and if the technology and business case panned out then a small constellation of follow-on satellites could provide the super-secure service globally.

“Eagle-1 is a major building block of a major new European quantum key system. It’s the first satellite quantum cryptography system for European cybersecurity. It’s also a major step towards a secure and scalable European quantum communications infrastructure,” stated ESA DG Josef Aschbacher udring the signing.

Eagle-1 will be built by Italian specialists Sitael and with Tesat supplying the special optical terminals. It will weigh just 300 kgs which is significantly smaller than the usual SES fleet of satellites. The overall science mission has been budgeted at €130 million.

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