Paul van Gerven
21 November

TNO and Airbus Netherlands have been commissioned to build a ground station for the European space-based quantum key distribution (QKD) system for quantum communication, Eagle-1. Integrating fast adaptive optics, accurate mirrors, a robust fiber coupling, a novel laser beacon system and a stabilized telescope, the optical ground station will receive quantum encryption keys from the Eagle-1 satellite.

Eagle 1
Credit: Eagle-1

TNO is responsible for the design, the adaptive optics and overall system engineering, while the Airbus team will take care of the support technologies, the control platform and the implementation. The collaboration is jointly funded by the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) and the Nxtgen Hightech program.

Eagle-1 will demonstrate and validate the feasibility of QKD technologies from low Earth orbit to the ground and provide valuable data for the development and deployment of a European quantum communication infrastructure. The project involves more than 20 European companies, spearheaded by satellite company SES headquartered in Luxembourg.