Q 3 Sat: Quantum communications uplink to a 3U CubeSat—feasibility & design

Sebastian Philipp Neumann, Siddarth Koduru Joshi, Matthias Fink, Thomas Scheidl, Roland Blach, Carsten Scharlemann, Sameh Abouagaga, Daanish Bambery, Erik Kerstel, Mathieu Barthelemy, Rupert Ursin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Satellites are the most efficient way to achieve global scale quantum communication (Q.Com) because unavoidable losses restrict fiber based Q.Com to a few hundred kilometers. We demonstrate the feasibility of establishing a Q.Com uplink with a 3U CubeSat, measuring only 10 × 10 × 34 cm 3 , using commercial off-the-shelf components, the majority of which have space heritage. We demonstrate how to leverage the latest advancements in nano-satellite body-pointing to show that our 4 kg CubeSat can generate a quantum-secure key, which has so far only been shown by a much larger 600 kg satellite mission. A comprehensive link budget and simulation was performed to calculate the secure key rates. We discuss design choices and trade-offs to maximize the key rate while minimizing the cost and development needed. Our detailed design and feasibility study can be readily used as a template for global scale Q.Com.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalEPJ Quantum Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • CubeSat
  • Feasibility study
  • Quantum communication
  • Quantum key distribution
  • Quantum optics
  • Satellite technology

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