SpeQtral, a leading quantum communication technology company, has chosen Kongsberg NanoAvionics (NanoAvionics) as the satellite bus provider for its upcoming SpeQtral-1 mission. The second partner in this mission is Mbryonics, producing the satellite’s optical terminal.
Using the technical expertise of NanoAvionics as a leading smallsat bus manufacturer and mission integrator, and Mbryonics’s state-of-the-art optical terminal hardware, SpeQtral-1 will serve as a pathfinder commercial demonstrator, defining future quantum key distribution (QKD) services.
SpeQtral-1 is aimed at providing communications services that require quantum security, as traditional cryptographic techniques are threatened by the emergence of quantum computing. The nanosatellite is based on NanoAvionics’s high-performance and multi-purpose M16P bus, which has been flight proven during multiple Earth observation missions. The satellite’s quantum-optical terminal by Mbryonics will transmit QKD photons from the satellite’s hardware down to optical ground stations.
The mission is also slated to be used alongside SpeQtre (expected to launch this year) as the space segment for the ESA INT-UQKD programme, which will explore international use cases for operational QKD applications and services.
SpeQtral-1 will be SpeQtral’s second QKD satellite, following the SpeQtre technology demonstrator mission, itself built on technologies demonstrated on the 2019 SpooQy-1 CubeSat.
SpeQtral cited NanoAvionics’s “consistent track record of building and successfully launching satellite missions, its invaluable expertise and an impressive portfolio of accomplishments as the reason for the mission selection”.
Rob Bedington, CTO of SpeQtral, said:
“We are thrilled that NanoAvionics and Mbryonics have taken up the challenge of collaborating on this groundbreaking, state-of-the-art mission. Making a laser comms mission is no easy feat, and integrating QKD takes the challenge to a whole new level! Our partners expertise and capabilities tesselate perfectly with our own and our vision of quantum-safe keys delivered by CubeSats. We look forwards to building the future of global secure connectivity together.”
Co-Founder and CEO, Lum Chune Yang, said:
“The SpeQtral-1 mission offers promising business prospects, enabling SpeQtral-delivered QKD services and serving as a reference for future QKD satellite products. The quantum-optical terminal, a joint effort of SpeQtral and Mbryonics, presents a compact QKD and laser communications transmitter product ready for integration into satellites of all sizes. This will pave the way for organisations or sovereign nations with quantum security requirements to incorporate this cutting-edge product into their bespoke satellite missions.
Vytenis J. Buzas, CEO of NanoAvionics, said:
“This collaboration with SpeQtral and Mbryonics signifies a critical step into the quantum era, promising revolutionary enhancements to secure communications. Using our experience in swiftly delivering in-orbit demonstration missions with our modular smallsat platforms, we’re prepared to navigate the future of quantum communications. Our partnership also showcases the ability of industry leaders to join forces across continents, transcending borders, and echoing the power of global cooperation in pioneering technological advancements.”
John Mackey, CEO at Mbryonics, said:
“We are deeply honoured that SpeQtral has chosen Mbryonics as their optical communications technology partner for this groundbreaking SpeQtral-1 mission. This project represents a significant step towards building a more secure world, and we are excited to contribute our expertise and advanced solutions to make it a reality. With a shared vision of pushing the boundaries of quantum communication, Mbryonics, NanoAvionics and SpeQtral have embarked on a remarkable journey to revolutionise secure communication channels through quantum key distribution (QKD). SpeQtral’s trust in our expertise and technology is a testament to the relentless pursuit of innovation and excellence that drives both our organisations. Our team of dedicated engineers and experts have poured their passion and knowledge into developing a cutting-edge solution that promises to set new benchmarks in secure and unbreakable communication.”