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Satnews Daily
July 13th, 2015

All Set To Revolutionize The Telecoms Market... ESA, Eutelsat + Airbus Defence & Space Sign On For New Satellite Design

[SatNews] Telecom satellites are set to enter a new age, as ESA, Eutelsat and Airbus Defence & Space begin designing the most flexible payload ever. 

The Quantum satellite represents a shift from custom-designed, one-off payloads to a more generic approach, resulting in reduced cost and time through a modular and scalable answer to the payload specification, design, technology and manufacturing. It will also be capable of unprecedented in-orbit re-configurability in coverage, frequency and power, allowing complete mission rehaul, including orbital position. Quantum is a public–private partnership between ESA and Eutelsat. Image is courtesy of Airbus.

The Quantum program is a departure from the traditional, custom, one-off approach to building satellites by offering a new and generic payload design. For the first time, it will enable users to request the performance and flexibility they need in terms of coverage, bandwidth, power and frequency. The satellites developed under the Quantum umbrella will be cheaper and quicker to build compared to current methods by using generic subsystems and equipment, enabling larger-scale production and more efficient control of stock.

Quantum will also be able to completely transform in orbit. Once in space, the chameleon-like satellite can adapt to new commands in coverage, frequency band, power use and even change its orbital position. This will make it the first generation of universal satellites able to serve any region of the world and adjust to new business without the user needing to buy and launch an entirely new satellite. This ability to mirror or complement another satellite anywhere in geostationary orbit will transform fleet management and result in a significantly more efficient use of resources.

Magali Vaissiere (ESA), Colin Paynter (Airbus Defence and Space) and Nick Daly (Eutelsat) sign the contract for the groundbreaking Quantum program.

Two hundred space leaders from the public and private spheres came to ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) on the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire on 9 July 2015, joined by the first ESA Director General, Roy Gibson, after whom the new building is named.

The event highlighted how space and space industry contribute to the economy. Space is an investment in the future. Success stories from entrepreneurs and the signing of the Quantum telecom satellite contract highlighted the recent expansion of ESA and the Science & Technology Facilities Council at Harwell Campus, in itself a growing international hub of space, science and business. Photo is courtesy of ESA/A. Le Floc'h.

Quantum is a public–private partnership (PPP) between ESA, leading satellite operator Eutelsat and Airbus Defence & Space (UK). The partnership ensures the three parties share risks and funds.

The first Quantum satellite will be delivered in 2018 and operated by Eutelsat to serve government, mobility and data markets. Airbus DS will be the prime contractor, using a new platform from Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (GB). Both developments are supported by the UK Space Agency.

Executive Comment

Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, said, “The Quantum program is another excellent PPP example. Industry benefits from a new type of satellite in a highly competitive and risk-averse market, the satellite operator benefits from the satellite’s advanced features and the ESA Member States who invested in Quantum are ensured maximum return on their support through the development of their respective industries.”