SES and TESAT to develop Europe’s pioneering quantum secure communications initiative EAGLE-1

Writer Samira Joineau
ses telsat luxembourg eagle-1 project space

EAGLE-1 consortium lead SES has announced yesterday a new key partner, TESAT, responsible for developing and integrating the Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) payload for the EAGLE-1 satellite. This partnership aims at achieving the next key milestone in building and implementing Europe’s pioneering quantum secure communications initiative EAGLE-1.

As a reminder, EAGLE-1 is a quantum key system integrating both space and ground segments that will deliver secure transmission of encryption keys across geographically dispersed areas, and connect EU’s national quantum communications infrastructures for truly sovereign networks. 

The project is developed by SES and its consortium of 20 European countries, and is also co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) contribution of Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Czech Republic under ARTES, as well as the European Commission through Horizon Europe. 

“EAGLE-1 is a project that will benefit the whole of Europe, and being able to work with the leading technology players in the market to co-develop it and together shape this innovative secure technology is a privilege to SES” – Ruy Pinto, Chief Technology Officer (SES) 

Together with TESAT, consortium members will manufacture the QKD payload, including the Scalable Optical Terminal SCOT80, so as to establish a secure optical link from space to ground, and also the QKD module for the satellite. 

“We are delighted to be selected as payload prime by SES and looking forward to bring our expertise in integrating secure technologies, and a track record of almost 80,000 executed optical satellite links for the benefit of this highly-important and timely European project” – Thomas Reinartz, CEO (TESAT)

In terms of technology, EAGLE-1 system’s payload will include built-in redundancy. It is also specifically designed to be associated with the satellite communications and data transmission for areas such as government, telco operators, cloud providers and banking, in order to ensure security of the cryptographic applications. 

EAGLE-1’s launch is expected to occur in 2024 and will complete three years of in-orbit mission. During this operational phase, the satellite will enable early access to long-distance QKD to European Union governments and institutions, as well as critical business sectors. This will pave the way towards an EU constellation enabling ultra-secure data transmissions.