Kourou (French Guiana) The Eutelsat Quantum satellite which was launched in July 2021 from the European space airport Kourou into a geostationary orbit on board an Ariane 5 rocket is revolutionary. It can be reprogrammed and reconfigured from Earth and thus adapted to new requirements during orbit. It is now at an altitude of around 36,000 kilometers and deployed its solar panels there.
Eutelsat Quantum is the first commercial, fully flexible software-defined satellite in the world. It was developed by ESA in cooperation with the satellite operator Eutelsat and Airbus. The aim of these cooperation projects is to develop more sustainable satellite systems that can be used longer. At the same time, the completely software-based configuration allows the hardware of such satellites to be mass-produced in the future.
The new satellite has an electronically swiveling receiving antenna and transmits in the Ku band with eight independent and reconfigurable beams. Unlike older telecommunication satellites, it does not direct these radio frequency beams onto fixed areas on the earth’s surface, but can flexibly change their orientation and thus the telecommunication coverage.
This enables the satellite to move its radio emission cones almost in real time and, for example, provide information to passengers on board moving ships or aircraft. In addition, it can react flexibly to interference fields or intentional blockages and also adapt the intensity of its transmission cone to the increased data load.
The satellite will remain in geostationary orbit over its 15-year lifespan and will then be disposed of in a so-called “cemetery orbit” at a safe distance from the earth so it won’t pose a threat to other satellites.