“Eutelsat Quantum is an important programme for both the UK and ESA and a typical example of the success of the ARTES public-private partnership model”
Guildford-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has completed the construction of the platform for the Eutelsat Quantum satellite, the world’s first-fully software-defined reconfigurable satellite.
The Eutelsat Quantum satellite could potentially be the start of a new era of commercial satellite technology, as it can be reprogrammed to suit industry requirements while still in orbit.
Earth command will be able to control four key features; power, coverage, frequency and bandwidth. All of these features can be reconfigured to suit the changing commercial needs on the planet’s surface.
Following on years of research from a major collaboration between the UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Airbus and Eutelsat, the Quantum satellite is considered one of the first commercial software-defined satellites. Advanced operational software and algorithms will optimise all systems on-board ensuring that it makes the most use of its available resources.
The re-programmable nature of the satellite means it can be quickly redeployed to suit business and government needs, covering everything from maritime vessel-tracking using beams that can be programmed to track mobile terminals to bespoke design wide-area networks which can be deployed anywhere on the Earth.
Transmitter power is dynamical allocated as opposed to the classical model where transmitter power is fixed to one amplifier per transponder. Beam power can also be controlled and managed, while a resource allocation scheduled can be programmed to fit commercial needs.
The bottom-line with regards to this new breed of satellite technology is that commercial enterprises will be no longer have to forecast future events when launching a satellite and will be able to quickly react to demand and changing market requirements.
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd
Guildford-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) completed the construction of the platform for the Eutelsat Quantum satellite. A precision-engineered 2.5 metre tall central thrust tube houses a chemical propulsion system designed to keep the satellite in a manoeuvrable orbit for 15 years. High pressure helium is used to expel the propellant from the tanks as it delivers 420 Newtons of force.
Sarah Parker Managing Director of SSTL commented in a release that: “The completion of our work on the Eutelsat Quantum satellite platform is an important milestone for SSTL as it represents our first venture into the global commercial telecoms satellite market.”
SSTL wired the platform with over 6000 wires which had to be individually measured and cut to length before being attached to the platform, a complex process which has to be done by hand.
Also installed is SSTL’s newly developed GEO momentum gyros which are designed to keep the spacecraft in a stable orientation while allowing command and control to adjust the satellites orbit.
“The design and assembly of this innovative spacecraft has enabled us to advance the knowledge and skills required to develop highly capable satellite products for the evolving telecoms market, where we are now actively engaged in seeking new opportunities,” Ms Parker stated.
The UK Space Agency is the largest funder of the European Space Agencies Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) project. The ARTES fosters innovation and development in the commercial telecommunications technology sector.
Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications commented that the: “Eutelsat Quantum is an important programme for both the UK and ESA and a typical example of the success of the ARTES public-private partnership model. Above all, our priority is our industry’s health and readiness for the future market challenges, and partnerships like these that improve the competitiveness, competence and business prospects of the companies we support are what we dedicate our efforts to.”