Honeywell and Aegiq collaborate on innovative tech for small satellites

13th September 2023
Sheryl Miles

Honeywell and Aegiq, a quantum networking and computing company, have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore creating a comprehensive solution to enable more precise and cost-effective design and deployment of space payloads and related ground assets.

The collaboration intends to combine Honeywell’s atmospheric sensing technology and Aegiq’s emulation toolkit for link performance of optical communication technologies used by small satellites.

“A solution that utilises our expertise blends two proven technologies to enable precise evaluation of secure optical communication links within real-time atmospheric conditions producing critical information for system design and cost analyses,” said Maksym Sich, Chief Executive Officer, Aegiq.

Aegiq’s Atlas toolkit simulates the performance of free-space optical and quantum communication networks, and specifically quantum key distribution (QKD), enabling insight into network performance metrics. Honeywell’s high-altitude LiDAR atmospheric sensing (HALAS) is a remotely operated, ground-based weather information system that provides near real-time, high-altitude atmospheric measurements in as little as three minutes. The HALAS system sends as many as 10 laser pulses per second into the sky over a targeted area of interest and provides more accurate readings than data from weather balloons at altitudes exceeding 100,000 feet (30 kilometres).

Although the path of a weather balloon is unpredictable, HALAS users can pinpoint where in the atmosphere weather data is needed, and that location can be adjusted quickly and easily.

According to McKinsey & Company research, the number of satellite communications launches has grown by about 15% a year since 2017. Looking ahead to 2030, McKinsey anticipates as many as 65,000 new communications satellites and 3,000 noncommunications satellites.

Currently used approaches suffer from inefficiencies and rely on deploying weather-monitoring solutions and analysing data after collection, typically after a set time. A Honeywell-Aegiq solution intends to incorporate real-time atmospheric data obtained by HALAS into a tool that simulates the link performance between space and ground assets. The solution aims to allow operators to evaluate data rate and quantum key rates at a set location quickly and with more accuracy than currently possible, and to enable precise ground station to satellite link communication, so that the asset can be redeployed if required.

“The data from our solution can inform the design and launch of satellites and ground operations, helping customers reduce operational costs while also reducing unsuccessful missions caused by marginal weather conditions. We look forward to working with the team at Aegiq, and their quantum technology competence, to deliver this unique capability,” said Matt Wiebold, Offering Management Director for HALAS, Honeywell Aerospace. 

Honeywell and Aegiq intend to work together to define a product development roadmap based on customer feedback that includes HALAS, Atlas and other potential adjacent product developments in the design and deployment of optical communication, networking and sensing for both space and ground segments.

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