Next Generation Satellite QKD - Creating a UK Sovereign Capability for Manufacturing Satellite QKD Payloads

Lead Participant: ARQIT LTD


Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) facilitates the secure sharing of encryption keys using quantum technology. These keys can encrypt data for transmission over conventional fibre links across any distance, but QKD itself is limited over fibre to around 150km. Beyond this, 'trusted nodes' are required, but at major risk of creating security vulnerabilities. A number of fibre QKD networks are being built, including in the UK, but all are subject to this constraint. QKD through free space is less sensitive to distance. Thus, satellites provide the means for distributing keys across very large distances between end users spread across countries or continents - they are a facilitator of global QKD networks. Satellite components in QKD networks are being planned or researched in a number of countries. A consortium led by Arqit aims to establish the world's first commercial QKD satellite constellation. The first satellite is being build under contract with the European Space Agency, with a quantum payload being manufactured by European partners. There is an opportunity for the UK quantum technology industry to leapfrog other countries by creating a capability to manufacture the next generation of space QKD payloads here in the UK. The "Quantum Payload Factory" project will work with organisations across the UK to progress the state of the art of promising quantum communications technologies, understand their potential to enhance the performance of Arqit's global QKD system, validate their capabilities and technology readiness, engineer them to become "space ready" and develop an enhanced performance payload design that brings these new UK technologies into the second generation of Arqit satellites.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

ARQIT LTD £1,658,672 £ 1,161,070


ORCA COMPUTING LTD. £795,824 £ 557,077
NU QUANTUM LTD £350,000 £ 245,000
HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY £443,387 £ 443,387
TOSHIBA EUROPE LIMITED £2,186,094 £ 1,093,047
AEGIQ LTD £524,411 £ 367,088
STFC - LABORATORIES £195,968 £ 195,968


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