UK to develop Quantum 'universal' satellite
The development of a completely novel type of satellite has been approved. To be called Quantum and built in the UK, the 3.5-tonne spacecraft will break new ground by being totally reconfigurable in orbit. Normally, the major mission parameters on satellites, such as their ground coverage pattern and their operating frequencies, are fixed before launch.
Quantum is a European Space Agency telecoms project. However, its development is actually a partnership with private industry, involving Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat and the manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space. The parties signed a contract on Thursday at the Harwell Science Campus in Oxfordshire.
The ultra-flexible payload of Quantum will be prepared by Airbus at its Portsmouth factory, and then integrated into the spacecraft bus, or chassis, at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford. SSTL is an Airbus subsidiary. Quantum should be delivered ready for launch in 2018.