ESA x Thales: a collaboration towards secure quantum communications

Writer Samira Joineau
esa thales alenia space cooperation quantum technology
© Thales Alenia Space

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the aerospatial-specialized company Thales Alenia Space announced the successful signature of a contract aiming to work on the TeQuantS project.

ESA and Thales Alenia Space have signed a contract in order to lead the TeQuantS project, which regards the development of space-to-Earth communications technologies. In other words, this project aims at developing quantum technologies for cybersecurity applications and future quantum information networks.

This project is actually co-funded by ESA, as it is associated with the program of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems – which falls under the strategic program ARTES 4.0 Core Competitiveness. The latter enables European and Canadian industry to explore innovative concepts so they can generate innovative and leading-edge satcom products, services, systems and partnerships. Besides, TeQuantS is supported by the French space agency (CNES) and the Austrian space agency (ALR).

“Supporting European autonomy, leadership and responsibility in today’s digital world is becoming increasingly important. We are proud to be working with the consortium led by Thales Alenia Space to ensure that European citizens will continue to benefit from space-based secure connectivity in everyday life on Earth” – Javier Benedicto, Acting Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications (ESA)

On this occasion, Thales Alenia Space set up a consortium composed of experts: Airbus Defence & Space, seven smaller firms and startups (ALPAO, AUREA Technology, BERTIN Technologies, MIRATLAS, OGS Technologies, QTlabs and SIGMAWORKS), and two research laboratories (LIP6 – Sorbonne University and INPHYNI – Côte d’Azur University/CNRS). 

Thales Aliena Space highlighted that the TeQuantS project does not only focus on satellites, but also on ground stations and complete mission segments. Marc-Henri Serre, Thales Alenia Space Executive Vice President, thanked ESA, CNES, and the Austrian Space Agency “for their vital support on this project, which is addressing future cybersecurity and quantum information network challenges”. 

This demonstrates that TeQuantS can deliver answers to two major challenges: establish communication between future quantum computers and sensors; and also solve main cybersecurity challenges. This project does support the European strategy to become autonomous and sovereign.