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Ten project partners comprising research organizations, universities and leading industry representatives have joined the SES-led consortium to develop the Quantum Cryptography Telecommunication System (QUARTZ). The system will use laser technology to exchange encryption keys from satellites to ground nodes. Deployment of quantum laser technologies will allow realization of intrinsically secure solutions to distribute keys that can be used to encrypt data. TNO will be one of the partners and will focus on the development of the Ground Terminal that is used to receive the encryption keys on the ground side.
The development of QUARTZ is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) under a recently announced agreement with SES. In the project framework, SES and the partners 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.
In order to achieve delivery of a reliable, globally available cybersecurity system and deliver next-generation encryption keys to networks in geographically dispersed areas, the new platform will leverage the unique advantages of satellites, including global reach and unlimited coverage. According to Remco den Breeje, System Architect at TNO, “QKD ground terminals that receive the quantum encryption keys from the satellite will be an essential part in cybersecurity infrastructures. The QKD ground terminal will use highly precise, robust and cost-effective opto-mechatronics and optical communication technologies, in which TNO has a leading position.”