(SpectrumIEEE) Singapore and the United Kingdom want to launch a small quantum communications satellite by 2021. “Nobody has ever tried to do this with a small satellite,” says Alexander Ling, head of the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore.
The latest and much more ambitious Singapore-U.K. effort puts a special twist on the quantum satellite concept by trying to make it work within the small size constraints of a CubeSat. Whereas the Chinese quantum satellite launched in 2016 weighs in at more than 600 kilograms, the final design for the Singapore-U.K. satellite dubbed “QKD Qubesat” may end up being closer to 12 kg and roughly the size of a shoebox. Putting a quantum communications system on a much smaller satellite means there is little room for redundant backup systems, in case part of the system fails.
The QKD Qubesat announcement kicks off what Andy Vick, head of disruptive technology at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space group in the U.K.Vick describes as a “very intense 24-month design-development period” going from early concept to final design.