Unlike conventional models, which were designed and “wired” on Earth and cannot be reused once in orbit, Eutelsat Quantum allows users to tailor communications to their needs – almost in real time.
The satellite will be put into orbit approximately 36 minutes after launch.
Because it can be reprogrammed into orbit in a fixed position 35,000 kilometers above Earth, the Quantum can meet changing demands for data transmission and secure communications over its lifetime. 15 years, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).
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The 3.5-ton Quantum model has eight communication beams, each of which can be changed to change its coverage area and the strength of the telecommunication signal it transmits.
With software made available to the customer, these changes can be made “in minutes,” according to Eutelsat.
This means that the satellite can provide mobile coverage for moving objects such as airplanes or ocean-going vessels, or provide coverage after a natural disaster or for one-off events.
And in an age of growing concern about space debris and digital security – as well as the possible militarization of the cosmos – Quantum can identify the origin of signals emitted with or without malicious intent and take action to remedy the interference.
Space waste issues
Speaking to CGTN Europe earlier this year, Moriba Jah, senior researcher for AstriaGraph, a website that tracks space debris in orbit, said the components of the old rocket bodies were “time bombs” due to the potential risk of collisions.
Jah said they could hit active satellites that provide vital systems on Earth or explode into thousands of pieces, leading to “super-spreading events” as they continue to orbit the planet.
In July, Germany opened a new Space Command, a military body tasked with monitoring space, protecting satellites and monitoring space debris.
Currently, Germany is monitoring around 30,000 space debris with a diameter of 10 centimeters or more – a size believed to have the potential to destroy a typical satellite, according to ESA.
The wave of debris is in part due to commercial operators such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and his Starlink network which aims to launch tens of thousands of satellites to provide global space wifi.