SAN FRANCISCO, CA, August 4, 2020 — Loft Orbital Solutions Inc (Loft Orbital) has signed a contract with Honeywell to provide launch service and satellite bus for the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) Quantum EncrYption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat) mission, for which Honeywell is the prime contractor.
The QEYSSat mission will demonstrate Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), a groundbreaking technology that has the potential to revolutionize encrypted communications. To date, the first and only space-based QKD demonstration has been performed by the Chinese Micius spacecraft in 2017.
Loft Orbital deploys and operates space infrastructure as a service, providing rapid, simple and reliable access to orbit. The company will use its Payload Hub technology, a payload-agnostic hardware and software interface adapter, to accommodate QEYSSat on a flight-proven, 100kg-class satellite bus.
The Payload Hub approach enables Loft Orbital to fly any payload configuration on a generic satellite bus design, removing the large burden of mission-specific satellite-bus design changes. Loft Orbital is currently executing on multiple of its “Yet Another Mission” satellite programs, or YAMs. The QEYSSat contract represents the largest single contract since Loft’s inception.
In order to provide Honeywell and the Canadian Space Agency with a mission tailored to their technical, schedule, reliability and cost requirements, Loft Orbital has leveraged its inSpace Mission Partner Program to deliver the QEYSSat mission.
InSpace is a collection of Loft Orbital’s mission partners across the space value chain, including satellites buses manufacturers, launch service providers, payload manufacturers and ground station service providers, that are compatible with Loft Orbital Payload Hub, making rapid and reliable missions to space possible.
On YAM-4, Loft Orbital is partnering with Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT), who will provide the satellite bus from their FlexBus product line. Loft Orbital has already relied on this bus design for a previous mission, thus offering true heritage for its customer.
“We are extremely proud to be working with Honeywell to support this groundbreaking Quantum Key Distribution mission for the Canadian Space Agency. This exciting mission illustrates how the combination of our flexible interface technology with a standard satellite bus design delivers reliability and speed to orbit for our customers,” said Pierre-Damien Vaujour, Loft Orbital’s Co-CEO.
Quantum Key Distribution is the process of using quantum technologies to generate and validate encryption keys for highly secure encrypted communications. While QKD can be performed terrestrially through fiber networks, those typically only remains secure for a distance of about 200 km.
QEYSSat will demonstrate QKD over longer distances between a satellite and a ground station. The ground station will generate a key in the form of photons and send it via laser link to the satellite, which will verify the key onboard and retransmit it to another ground station.
Canada has emerged as a leader in Quantum Key Distribution, and QEYSSat will be Canada’s first space-based QKD experiment.