Mynaric receives funding for quantum communication projects

Mynaric has been awarded three technology development projects in the field of quantum communications by the QuNET initiative. The projects are part of the second phase of the initiative and will be co-funded with a total of up to €5.6 million between 2023 and 2025.

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QuNET is a research initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Its goal is to lay the foundations for secure and robust IT networks that are armed against cyber attacks. To this end, the QuNET initiative is developing highly secure communication systems based on state-of-the-art quantum technology. The list of participating core institutes reads like a Who's Who of German research and development:

  1. Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF, Jena
  2. Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI, Berlin
  3. Institute of Communication and Navigation of the German Aerospace Center DLR-IKN, Oberpfaffenhofen-Weßling
  4. Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light MPL, Erlangen
  5. Friedrich Alexander University FAU, Erlangen-Nuremberg

Mynaric to develop technology for quantum communications

Russia's unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine has demonstrated the need for a resilient communications infrastructure. This is also underlined by the report "The War in Ukraine from a Space Cybersecurity Perspective" published by the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in October 2022. As can be read in the introduction, Russia also carried out a cyber attack at the time of the invasion of Ukraine. It was directed against the KA-SAT satellite network used by the Ukrainian army. In this respect, secrecy is a high priority. It is therefore only logical that Mynaric's work on the projects is carried out entirely in Germany. This includes:

  • The development of a scalable prototype optical ground station capable of receiving quantum keys from high-security satellite networks in space;
  • Demonstrating an optical communications terminal for high-altitude airborne platforms that can exchange quantum keys over air-to-air and air-to-ground links;
  • Researching compact optical technologies that enable quantum key and laser communications for fixed and mobile network nodes.

"Mynaric has always been pushing the boundaries of laser communications technology and these projects are a continuation of that streak,” said Joachim Horwath, CTO & Founder of Mynaric. “Quantum communication allows levels of cyber-security needed to confront future threats on data integrity and security. Optical communications terminals are a basic building block needed to realize quantum networks across large distances and in mobile scenarios."

Mynaric's achievements in the European government environment

Already in early 2022, ESA commissioned Mynaric to research optical technologies for the next generation of high-speed optical links between satellites. And the decision to build the IRIS2 satellite constellation, which was approved by an overwhelming majority, could also play into Mynaric's hands. That's because the constellation will be built on multiple orbits and potentially include hundreds of satellites. In keeping with its name, "Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection & Security by Satellites," high demands will be placed on data security. In addition to a variety of innovative technologies, quantum encryption technologies will be used. Young space companies will also be involved in the development, albeit to a lesser extent. However, details will only emerge in the individual calls for proposals.

The EU timetable for the development of IRIS2 is ambitious. The first services are to be available from 2025, with full operational capability to be achieved by 2027 at the latest. According to Mustafa Veziroglu, co-CEO of Mynaric since March 2023, quantum technology will soon be a cornerstone of secure communications infrastructure. On the ground, in the air and in space. But, as he points out, the technology needs to mature first. He adds: "Backed by these projects, we will develop technical knowledge and expertise to advance our products with quantum communication capabilities needed to solve our customers’ future connectivity needs."

QuNET initiative lays foundation for secure quantum communications

The goal of the seven-year QuNET initiative is to develop the technology foundation for a quantum communications network that provides highly secure data transmission between federal agencies and is tamper- and eavesdropping-resistant, even in the face of emerging threats. The industry-led QuNET+ projects will develop hybrid quantum communications networks on the ground, in the air and in space.

Header Image Credit: QuNet Initiative
Written by M. Weissflog
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