World’s First Commercial Fully Reprogrammable Satellite Lifts Off
by Apoorva Kaul  /  31st July, 2021

“The European Space Agency on July 30 launched the world’s first commercial fully re-programmable satellite. Eutelsat Quantum, the world’s first commercial fully re-programmable satellite lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Friday. The European Space Agency (ESA) took to its official Twitter handle to share a picture of the Eutelsat Quantum satellite lifting off and in the caption, the space agency mentioned that it is the “first commercial fully flexible software-defined satellite in the world.”

In the official news release, the European Space Agency revealed, “Following a series of burns controlled by Ariane’s computer, the Sylda structure encasing the 3461 kg Eutelsat Quantum payload was then jettisoned before Eutelsat Quantum was released into its own geostationary transfer orbit.” Eutelsat Quantum was developed under a European Space Agency partnership project with satellite operator Eutelsat and prime manufacturer Airbus. The news release said that Eutelsat Quantum is the first commercial fully flexible software-defined satellite in the world. It is the first reprogrammable commercial telecommunications satellite to operate in a high-frequency radio range called the Ku band that is used for data transmission.

According to the news release, the satellite can be reprogrammed in orbit. The Eutelsat Quantum can respond to changing demands for data transmission and secure communications during its 15-year lifetime. The beams of Eutelsat Quantum can be redirected to move in almost real-time to provide information to passengers onboard moving ships or planes. The beams can be easily adjusted to give more information when demand increases. The satellite can also detect and characterise any rogue emissions, enabling it to respond dynamically to accidental interference or intentional jamming. Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation in the press release said, “Every launch is exciting. Ariane 5 is the pride of Europe and continues to be the cornerstone of Europe’s access to space”. Neuenschwander added that Eutelsat Quantum is the result of an “ESA–industry partnership that brings a world first to telecommunications.”
Reprogrammable satellite shipped to launch site
by European Space Agency  /  June 30, 2021

“Developed under an ESA Partnership Project, Quantum will be able to respond to changing demands on Earth during its 15-year lifetime, providing data, communications and entertainment exactly where and when it is wanted. Rather than broadcast to Earth with fixed beams, Quantum will let people choose where to point their beams. These can move in virtual real time to provide information to passengers on board moving planes or ships. The beams can also be adjusted at the push of a button, so that more data is delivered when demand surges. The satellite was developed by ESA with operator Eutelsat and satellite manufacturers Airbus as the prime manufacturer and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd for the platform. ESA Partnership Projects federate European industry around large-scale programmes, developing innovative cutting-edge solutions in partnership with private or public operators. They support end-to-end space systems from start-up to in-orbit validation. After that, the commercial partners operate the system. On 29 June the satellite took its last Earth-bound journey before it is launched into space. It was loaded onto an Antonov cargo plane and flown from Toulouse in France to Cayenne’s Félix Eboué Airport in French Guiana, then transported by road to Europe’s Spaceport.

Quantum will launch on board an Ariane 5 this summer to a geostationary transfer orbit from where it will continue to geostationary orbit some 36 000 kilometres above Earth. François Gaullier, Head of Telecom Systems at Airbus, said: “The technology we have developed and built for Eutelsat Quantum is truly game changing, paving the way to fully reconfigurable geostationary telecommunications satellites. Our experience in pioneering this revolutionary technology demonstrates the value of partnerships—bringing together the best from Eutelsat, ESA and Airbus to achieve a new standard in flexible connectivity.”

Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “Investing in space improves life on Earth by creating high-value jobs in the space industry and fostering new innovations, while boosting commercialisation for a green and digital Europe.” The Ariane 5 rocket is operated by Arianespace at Europe’s Spaceport. It is able to carry payloads weighing more than 10 tonnes to geostationary transfer orbit and over 20 tonnes into low Earth orbit. Its performance perfectly complements that of Europe’s Vega light-lift launch vehicle, and Soyuz. Europe’s next-generation Ariane 6 rocket will eventually replace Ariane 5. Available in two versions, it will be capable of a wide range of missions to any orbit.”