A sophisticated telecommunications reprogrammable satellite that can be completely repurposed while in space was successfully launched late last night.
By James Wilson
Developed under a European Space Agency Partnership Project with reprogrammable satellite operator Eutelsat and prime manufacturer Airbus, Eutelsat Quantum is the first commercial fully flexible software-defined satellite in the world.
The reprogrammable satellite – which will be used for data transmission and secure communications – was launched on board an Ariane 5 launcher on 30 July from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
It has since reached geostationary orbit some 36 000 km above Earth, where it has deployed its solar array and is communicating well with its operator on Earth.
Because the satellite can be reprogrammed in orbit, it can respond to changing demands during its lifetime.
Its beams can be redirected to move in almost real time to provide information to passengers on board moving ships or planes. The beams also can be easily adjusted to deliver more data when demand surges.
The satellite can detect and characterise any rogue emissions, enabling it to respond dynamically to accidental interference or intentional jamming.
The satellite will remain in geostationary orbit for its 15-year lifespan, after which it will be safely placed in a graveyard orbit away from Earth to avoid becoming a risk to other satellites.
Quantum is a UK flagship project with most of the satellite developed and manufactured by British industry. Airbus is the prime contractor and was responsible for building the satellite’s innovative payload, while Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd manufactured the new platform.
The successful launch was carried out by Ariane 5 operated by Arianespace (a subsidiary of ArianeGroup), at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, with the support of teams from the French space agency CNES.
The performance required of the Ariane 5 for this launch was 10,515 kg, including 9,651 kg for both payloads. Ariane 5 was also equipped with a cryogenic upper stage called ESC-D, whose tanks were extended for this mission, with an overall mass of the stage at liftoff of more than 19 metric tons.
This first launch of Ariane 5 in 2021 was a double success for the Ariane team as it also delivered a second telecommunications satellite Star One D2 for the operator Embratel, thereby confirming the launcher’s exceptional reliability.
“With this new Ariane 5 success, the first in 2021, Arianespace is pleased to be continuing its service to two of its most loyal customers, operators Embratel and Eutelsat,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace.
“This mission with two highly innovative satellites on board has reconfirmed how the competitiveness and reliability of our launch solutions serves the ambitions of our customers. We are committed to their total satisfaction.”
ArianeGroup is the lead contractor for the development and production of Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launchers. The company coordinates an industrial network of more than 600 companies (including 350 SMEs).
ArianeGroup oversees the entire Ariane 5 industrial supply chain, from performance optimisation and associated studies, to production and mission-specific data and software. This chain includes equipment and structures, engine manufacturing, integration of the various stages, and launcher integration in French Guiana.
ArianeGroup delivers a flight-ready launcher on the launch pad to its subsidiary Arianespace, which operates the flight from lift-off, on behalf of its customers.
Congratulations to ArianeGroup for an important contribution to Europe’s achievements in Space with this successful launch.
Originally published at Eu reporter