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Satnews Daily
August 6th, 2018

UPDATE: Austrian Institute of Technology and SES to Work on Satellite-Based QKD Security System

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a method for secret key agreement based on optical communication with quantum signals.

QKD is fundamentally different from classical cryptography and is currently the only known method that will be provably secure against attacks from future quantum computers. Satellite-based QKD can overcome the distance limitations of several hundred kilometres still present in fiber based QKD systems.

Over the coming three years, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) experts of the optical quantum technologies research group will create next generation software to enable the distribution of secure keys between optical ground stations on Earth that will all be connected by quantum links with a quantum enabled satellite. This will achieve a reliable, globally available cybersecurity system and deliver next-generation encryption keys to networks in geographically dispersed areas, thus leveraging the unique advantages of satellites, including global reach and unlimited coverage.

The QUARTZ consortium will define, design and develop a satellite-based Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) system and service architecture, which will include the future service and the core technologies, as well as ground end-to-end testing. The development of QUARTZ is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) under a recently announced agreement with SES.

The members of the consortium are:

  • AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR)
  • ID Quantique
  • itrust consulting
  • Ludwig-Maximilian University
  • LuxTrust
  • Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light
  • Palacky University
  • SES (Coordinator)
  • Tesat-Spacecom
  • TNO


Dr. Christoph Pacher, quantum cryptography expert and project coordinator at AIT, said that this revolutionary technology will enable highly secure communication links on a global scale during the next decade. If you consider how much effort is internationally put into quantum computing these days, and the recent progress made, you should start preparing yourself against attacks with future quantum computers now.

Helmut Leopold, PhD, Head of Center for Digital Safety & Security, added that by successfully combining scientific excellence with professional engineering and building a critical mass of competence in Austria, AIT has achieved a leading international position in quantum based encryption technologies."

The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is Austria's largest research and technology organization and a specialist in the key infrastructure issues of the future. In the context of comprehensive and global networking and digitization, the Center for Digital Safety & Security is developing modern information and communication technologies (ICT) and systems designed to establish secure and reliable critical infrastructure.

AIT experts in the field of Optical Quantum Technologies focus on system design and integration of quantum cryptography solutions as well as product development using quantum inspired technologies to support research & development activities in quantum optics and other applied research fields such as life sciences. The goal of this AIT core topic is to bring quantum technology from the laboratory to the customer.