A few hours ago, the telecommunications satellites Star One D2 and Eutelsat Quantum were launched from the Kourou spaceport, in French Guiana, to be sent into a geostationary orbit. Of the two satellites, Eutelsat Quantum was the very special one as it’s the first fully commercial satellite that can be reprogrammed in orbit to respond to changing broadcast needs and upgrade the security of encrypted communications. It has an expected useful life of 15 years.
The Eutelsat Quantum satellite is the result of an ESA collaboration with Airbus and Eutelsat. Telecommunications satellites until now were designed with certain hardware that determined their purpose, and once put into orbit, they can only do the kind of jobs they were programmed to do. Eutelsat Quantum was designed to have flexibility that will allow it to adapt to different needs by covering different areas of the planet over time.
There are several possible uses of the Eutelsat Quantum satellite, thanks to its flexibility. It’s capable of providing communications to customers who need commercial broadcasts or other types of communications such as those with moving ships or airplanes or even to cover specific events. Communications take place via eight beams that can be reconfigured in a very short time when it’s necessary to broadcast to a different area or to moving vehicles or to increase data flows when there’s a peak of demand.
At a time when warfare has become increasingly based on cyber attacks, the Eutelsat Quantum satellite represents the state of the art in security among commercial satellites. According to the entities involved in its design, it can recognize intrusion and jamming attempts adopting countermeasures to continue to operate regularly. It’s always difficult to assess the security of a piece of equipment, not least because the types of attacks can become more sophisticated over time. This means that periodic updates are also needed from this point of view.
The Eutelsat Quantum satellite is expected to start its operations in the last quarter of 2021. It was defined as the first of a new generation of satellites and this means that its success will open the door to the launch of more satellites of this type.