(SatelliteToday) The U.S. Space Force (USSF) has awarded Virgin Orbit subsidiary VOX Space a $35 million contract to launch three dedicated missions to quantify the potential to improve Earth-satellite quantum channel uplinks via adaptive optics, expand quantum network concepts and exploit this capability for defense applications.The first launch could occur as early as October 2021.
“We are excited to partner with VOX Space and believe the STP-S28 mission will showcase industry innovation, international partnering and provide a gateway to work with some of the newest, leading-edge entrants for emerging small launch service providers. With our small launch contracts we are able to take more risks and move quickly to produce high rewards and tactically responsive launch capabilities for combatant commanders,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of the Small Launch and Targets Division at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. “This program provides the perfect opportunity to highlight [Space and Missile Systems Center] SMC’s ability to streamline procurement and mission execution, foster innovation, and preserve the best chance for mission success.”
NOTE: The announcement from the LAAirForce.mil about the contract can be read here.
STP will provide payloads such as QUEYSSAT, a cooperative effort between the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and the Canadian Department of National Defence. This experiment will demonstrate and quantify the potential to improve Earth-satellite quantum channel uplinks via adaptive optics, expand quantum network concepts and exploit this capability for defense applications. QUEYSSAT is illustrative of the technology demonstrations capable via the small satellites that will be launched with this mission as well as demonstrates one of the nearly 20 different organizations STP will partner with.