QuNET+MOBIXHAP Mobile network nodes for quantum communication
MO-SPACE Raumfahrttechnik GmbH is participating in a highly innovative collaborative project on quantum communication. The project is generously funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Secure encryption methods are of key importance today both in protecting critical digital infrastructures and in safeguarding the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information. In particular, due to the attack potential of future powerful quantum computers, new cryptographic algorithms are essential to ensure IT security to be sustainable in the future. In this perspective, the method of key distribution by means of light quanta, the so-called quantum key distribution, is a promising approach, since quantum keys cannot be intercepted and copied unnoticed due to fundamental physical laws. QKD technology can be used in fiber-based terrestrial communication networks as well as in free-space systems. However, for longer transmission distances, free-beam-based transmission of quantum keys using satellites or high-flying platforms is advantageous.
Goals and Procedure
The goal of the industry-led project "Mobile Nodes" (QuNET+MOBIXHAP), which is affiliated with the QuNET-initiative, is to develop and demonstrate a high-altitude platform for free beam-based quantum key distribution. The development will focus on a HAP-capable QKD system that covers all network functionalities, from establishing and maintaining air-to-air and air-to-ground connections to the exchange of secure quantum keys. In parallel, the project will also design and test an unmanned HAP based on a special high-flying stratospheric flying vehicle. In addition to the primary functionalities, the overall system should also be able to operate autonomously and resist the interference effects as well as the adverse operating conditions in the stratosphere. These high requirements are to be met by developing a particularly robust control technology and complex control algorithms - all of this, however, under the maxim of a design that is as light and compact as possible.
Innovations and Perspectives
In the project, the fundamentals for robust, autonomously operating mobile nodes for quantum communication will be developed, which, in perspective, will enable the establishment of a QKD network in the stratosphere. Thus, terrestrial fiber-based quantum communication networks could be extended by mobile free-space QKD solutions. On the one hand, the project addresses the problem of distributing quantum keys over long distances, but at the same time it contributes to increasing the reliability and flexibility of a quantum-safe IT infrastructure. Overall, the work makes an important contribution to the success of the QuNET initiative. The participation of several industry partners also strengthens the position of the national IT security industry in the introduction and dissemination of quantum-based communication systems.
MO-SPACE Raumfahrttechnik GmbH, Berlin
Quantum Space Systems GmbH, Hausham
Mynaric Lasercom GmbH, Gilching
Fraunhofer-Institut für Photonische Mikrosysteme (IPMS), Dresden
Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Optik und Feinmechanik (IOF), Jena
TAO Trans-Atmospheric Operations GmbH, Stuttgart
01/2023 - 12/2025