The new Eutelsat Quantum satellite, the world’s first reprogrammable commercial satellite, was successfully launched into Geostationary Transfer Orbit.
Launched onboard an Ariane 5 rocket on 30 July from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, the satellite separated from the rocket after a 37-minute flight. The spacecraft systems checkout was then successfully completed over a period of approximately 3 hours.
Developed under an ESA Partnership Project with satellite operator Eutelsat and prime manufacturer Airbus, Eutelsat Quantum heralds a new era of commercial satellite service. Its in-orbit reprogrammable features set a new standard in flexibility that will enable users – notably in the government, mobility, and data markets – to actively define and shape performance and reach thanks to its software-based design. Because the satellite can be reprogrammed in orbit, it can respond to changing demands during its lifetime.
The Eutelsat Quantum is placed in geostationary orbit approximately 35,000 km (22,000 miles) above the Earth. The 3.5-ton satellite has eight communication beams that can be redirected to move in almost real-time to provide information to passengers onboard moving ships, planes, trucks, lorries, and other land-based transport.
The beams also can be easily adjusted to deliver more data when demand surges. Moreover, it can locate the origin of communications received and block them if they are sent with nefarious intent of causing a disruption in services.
The reprogrammable satellite is to be located at 48° East to provide services over a wide geographical area that spans from West Africa to Asia and is due to enter service during the fourth quarter of calendar 2021. It will remain in geostationary orbit for its 15-year lifespan, after which it will be safely placed in a graveyard orbit away from Earth to avoid becoming a risk to other satellites.
“Eutelsat Quantum will supply services with unprecedented in-orbit reconfigurability in coverage, frequency, and power, allowing complete mission rehaul at any orbital position. It is a testimony to the innovative spirit and expertise of the European Space industry,” said Pascal Homsy, Eutelsat’s Chief Technical Officer.