"Europe aims to launch a test satellite for secure, quantum-encrypted communications in 2024", reports Space.com.
The satellite, Eagle-1, will be the first space-based quantum key distribution (QKD) system for the European Union and could lead to a super-secure communications network for Europe, according to a statement from the European Space Agency (ESA from the European Space Agency).
Eagle-1 will spend three years in orbit testing the technologies needed for a new generation of secure communications. The satellite will demonstrate the "feasibility of quantum key distribution technology — which will use the principles of quantum mechanics to distribute encryption keys in such a way that any eavesdropping attempt is immediately detectable — within the EU using a satellite system."
"European security and dominance in a future world of quantum computing is critical to the success of Europe and its member states," said Steve Collar, CEO of SES.
SES will lead a consortium of more than 20 European countries, according to the ESA statement.
The system will initially use an upgraded optical ground terminal from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) together with a new optical ground terminal to be developed by a team from the Netherlands.
Italian company Sitael's Eagle-1 satellite platform will carry a payload of quantum keys manufactured by Germany's Tesat Spacecom and operated by Luxembourg-based SES.