Quantum is a pioneering mission that will influence how telecom satellites are procured and built in Europe by offering a new, generic payload design. 

More flexibility, faster and cheaper

Quantum is a shift from custom-designed, one-off payloads to a more generic approach, resulting in:

–      Reduced cost and time through a modular and scalable answer to the payload specification, design, technology and manufacturing;
–      Unprecedented in-orbit reconfigurability in coverage, frequency and power, allowing complete mission rehaul, including orbital position.

A better solution

It addresses satellite operators’ growing needs for:

–      Agility in responding to changes in geographical or performance market demand, during satellite manufacturing or after launch, and addressing emerging business opportunities;
–      More efficient use of satellite resources and customised allocation of resources to time-variant requests;
–      Vastly improved fleet management including operations from different orbital locations and resource reallocation;
–      Interference mitigation including geolocation of interference sources.

Boosting European industry

This approach will have a far-reaching effect on European competitiveness in the commercial flexible communication payloads market across a large range of payload sizes. It will do so through an innovative payload architecture that uses generic subsystems and equipment, enabling larger-scale production and optimised stock control, which is not possible today owing to ever-changing specifications. Quantum technology will be able to meet the future flexible-payload market demand, which is expected to be five to eight payloads per year.

A new concept on a new platform

Quantum will be carried on a new European, modular, flexible and reliable geostationary telecom platform.

–      For satellites with up to 7 kW/450 kg payloads;
–      Compatible with many commercial launchers;
–      There is growing market demand for satellites of this size class, estimated at up to eight per year, fuelled by:
–      Smaller domestic operators in emerging markets looking for affordable entry opportunities to an indigenous capability or addressing domestic needs; 
–      Established operators desiring a cost-effective upgrade or replacement of capacity but also as a rapid response to filling an orbital slot.

A European industrial product

ESA’s Quantum initiative covers the development, qualification and in-orbit validation of the first flight model of the Quantum satellite (both payload and platform elements).

Quantum satellite main characteristics:

–      Satellite launch mass: 3.5 tonnes
–      Lifetime: 15 years
–      Payload power: 5 kW
–      Payload mass: 450 kg

Quantum will be developed by a core team: Airbus Defence & Space (UK) as the satellite and payload prime, SSTL (GB) for the provision of the platform, and Airbus Defence & Space (formerly EADS CASA)  (ES), Space Engineering (IT), along with other industrial companies from ESA Member States for the innovative subsystems.

Developed through a public–private partnership

Quantum will be implemented in a public–private partnership between ESA, Airbus Defence & Space and Eutelsat, a renowned global satellite operator, enabling:

–      The crucial first flight and operational validation with a prominent customer;
–      A high return on the ESA funding thanks to the additional source of financing from the operator;
–      An attractive opportunity for the operator to incorporate a high degree of innovation into its operational fleet thanks to the support from ESA to mitigate technological risk.

Eutelsat will brand the Quantum concept using the name Eutelsat Quantum.

Last update: 4 August 2015

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