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United Kingdom-Swindon: Spacecraft, satellites and launch vehicles
Prior information notice
This notice is for prior information only
Section I: Contracting authority
Section II: Object
RAL Space — Quantum Key Distribution — Industry Engagement Day
The project ‘QKD CubeSat’ is a collaboration between the Singapore and UK Governments, and could lead to a more secure online activity for consumers in everything from financial transactions to online conversations.
More information about the project can be accessed via the link below:
The project scope is to build and fly a satellite quantum key distribution (QKD) test bed. Through this collaboration, Singapore and the UK will co-develop a satellite called ‘QKD Cubesat’, a satellite based on the CubeSat standard that will use a pioneering QKD technology to test the secure distribution of cryptographic keys over globe-spanning distances.
In the UK, work will be led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space facility, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which is responsible for the development of the platform (BUS) and also the optical payload for optical links needed for beaming QKD signals, known as the ‘RAL Payload’ or ‘Optical Payload’.
The areas that will be contracted externally are listed and briefly described below:
1a) Spacecraft platform (including BUS components and ADCS):
The spacecraft platform will be required to house an optical payload. The function of the payload is to produce entangled photons and transmit them to the ground. The satellite platform ADCS needs to be able to accept pointing offset instructions commanded by the satellite payload.
Two complete spacecraft platforms will be required: the qualification model and the flight model.
1b) Software development:
The project requires a sizeable software component to operate on the platform on-board computer.
In addition to the flight software, ground segment mission control software shall need to be developed as part of the overall mission. The ground segment software should utilise common libraries to simplify the testing and integration process.
2) Fine steering mirror:
To achieve good signal levels, the entangled photons need to be pointed very accurately at the ground station. This is done by using a Fine Steering Mirror (FSM) in the optical payload. This mirror will be operated in a closed loop tracking system. The requirement for the FSM system will cover the mirror mechanism and its drive control electronics.
The project will require a minimum of 2 complete FSM systems.
3) Optical ground station — telescope and mount:
The data, timing, polarisation and tracking signals from the satellite will be received by an Optical Ground Station (OGS). The ground station will be required to locate and track the satellite and then conduct spot (satellite beacon) tracking from a camera feed.
The launch of the QKD CubeSat is expected around Q1/Q2 2022.
Launch options will be required to launch our 6U payload with associated platform to either ISS or SSO orbit.
UKRI-STFC is interested in engaging with the industry to explain its requirements and offer the opportunity for suggestions or feedback, prior to the publication of contract notices for each of its requirements, by means of an industry engagement day. This will be held at a location near Didcot, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom on 18.10.2019, starting at 10.00 GMT.
Economic operators that are interested in participating may register for the event at the following address: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ral-space-qkd-project-industry-engagement-day-tickets-72675926653
Registration will close at 16.00 GMT on 11.10.2019.
Please note that due to venue capacity, attendance is capped at 130 attendees. Attendance will only be permitted with prior registration and places are limited to an initial maximum of 2 attendees per organisation. UKRI-STFC reserve the right to increase or decrease this limit depending on demand. Full details will be released to registered participants once registration has closed.
Section IV: Procedure
Section VI: Complementary information