(Forbes) Honeywell is the prime contractor for the Canadian Space Agency’s Quantum Encryption and Science Satellite mission, QEYSSat. The goal of the project is put space-based quantum key distribution (QKD) to the test.
Loft Orbital is a company that specializes in deploying and operating space infrastructure as a service. Using its Payload Hub technology, Loft Orbital takes a “Yet Another Mission” or YAM approach to payloads with a hardware and software stack to enable plug and play sensors on a standard microsatellite platform.
QEYSSat is the largest contract since Loft Orbital was founded in 2017. This is the same year that the Chinese Academy of Sciences launched a similar QKD program using the Micius satellite.
The differences between the older Micius approach to QKD and that which QEYSSat is taking is significant. For a start, QEYSSat is aiming to be less than 20% the size of the Micius satellite and will leverage commercial technology. Hence the involvement of Loft Orbital. Does size matter? You betcha. Reductions in size of that scale should lead to significant savings in both cost and time as far as the next generation of test projects is concerned.
Ultimately, if all goes according to plan, QEYSSat could have broad-reaching impacts as it should prove the capability to deliver QKD over much longer distances than the current ground to ground tests have managed to date. “This mission will demonstrate game-changing technology with far-reaching implications for how information will be shared and distributed in the future,” says Loft Orbital CEO, Pierre-Damien Vaujour, “we are honored and thrilled to be supporting it.”
NOTE: A robust and technical description of QDK’s benefits and challenges in space is also included with this article.