Furthermore, other satellites such as Hispasat 36W-1 already have direct radiating arrays / phase-arrays (which I am pretty sure is the core technology of EUTELSAT's Quantum). Sure, Quantum might be (one of) the first satellite that makes full use of this technology, but this is the current trend and all the big satellite comms. companies are going to launch a similar satellite in the next 1-2 years (SES-17, SpaceX Starlink, mPower...).
In any case, I believe that the dynamic resource management (DRM) software (which EUTELSAT claims to have developed) will play a crucial role in all these new satellites. Given the payload flexibility, optimally configuring all these degrees of freedom will become a very very challenging task.
May I suggest leaving the word "Quantum" out of the title completely. IMHO it's rather cheeky (and misleading) for the satellite manufacturers to use that name at all for something that doesn't involve quantum-mechanics-based technology.
As it happens I agree the title is very confusing, but I think you're overstating the point.
Many of scientific/technology terms have different colloquial uses. Context makes all the difference, as am sure you are fully aware.
I think that their main innovation might be the software to optimally allocate power, bandwidth, spectrum, and pointing and shape of each beam so that throughput/revenue /"quality of service" is maximized, which might be run on the ground and then the "instructions" sent over the TT&C link to the satellite. I doubt that the spacecraft has the autonomy level required to conduct all these tasks onboard.
I agree with you that there's no way the optimization on those things can be done on board, which means that it's likely purely the signal processing/phased array that's consuming so much power/resources that they couldn't fit more transponders to increase capacity.
I am curious about your thoughts on future satellite architectures since it looks like some players are betting in full flexibility by means of DRA / phased-arrays technology (SES, SpaceX, Telesat), whereas others (Viasat) seems to be betting on fixed-spot beams + flexibility in spectrum, bandwidth, and power allocations.
I wouldn't say ViaSat is focusing on any of those things. ViaSat-2 was flexible in many ways, as is ViaSat-3:
"One of the greatest innovations of our Viasat-3 satellites is the ability to move resources to where customers are located dynamically."
For Telesat and SpaceX, I believe you're referring to their LEO constellations, where SES you're referring to mPOWER. LEO I believe sounds great on paper, and I don't think it will be technically impossible for SpaceX to complete. The challenge with LEOs and MEOs (mPOWER) is the cost of the ground equipment. No company to my knowledge has come close to getting the ground equipment (phased-array) to a price point which would make the business viable. Forgetting all the issues with LEO about number of launches and stranded capacity over water, I think the ground antenna will be very difficult, and it's not talked about very often.
If they find a market, such as enterprise, that's willing to pay significantly more per month for "high-speed internet", and have a fairly massive antenna on their roof, then they will succeed. I don't think that market exists since they already have fiber/cable, and getting a consumer antenna cheaper than a fixed GEO antenna will be a real challenge. I also don't think latency is a huge benefit at this point, since internet bandwidth is dominated by streaming media, which isn't affected at all by high latency. You will oftentimes see gamers complain about satellite, but in reality, they're a very tiny segment of the market, and streaming is growing faster than gaming.
I also alluded to the bandwidth demands of satellites in my other post. If you read internet usage reports, link the one from sandvine, you'll see that data usage is growing nearly exponentially, as is cord-cutting. You simply cannot launch a 10Gbps satellite these days and make money off it. If you could, the companies with 100Gbps satellites could sell the same bandwidth cheaper than you can.
My guess is that Eutelsat is really trying to take the approach of a feedback loop of demand with the satellite to try to optimize those parameters you're suggesting in real-time. Again, I think the problem with that is internet traffic on a micro level changes too frequently, but on a macro level (markets) don't change frequently at all. In other words, even the companies launching satellites with fixed capacity/beams have an extremely good idea of where their market is before they launch. Even if they're wrong by 30%, you can view that as a 30% hit to an extremely high capacity, which is still higher than the steerable one.
So in summary, I'm not optimistic on LEO, and for Quantum to be competitive, I think it would need to be in the 100Gbps range. Eutelsat already has a ~100Gbps satellite called Ka-Sat that's nearing 8 years old now, so this type of satellite from the same company makes me think it's exactly what you said -- it's an experiment since a large amount of money was free from the government. From a business point of view, it may make sense for them since they didn't pay for most of it. But the newer satellites are coming up very soon. 2019 will be somewhat quiet for new GEO launches, but I think by 2020 Quantum will seem quite underwhelming, if it isn't already today.
5.5 kW is not a lot of power, modern buses for geostationary satellites (i.e., 720HP) can produce close to ~18 kW, of which ~80-90 % are normally used by the payload in a communications satellite.
You can also update the platform OBC as well, with its bootloader then selecting which SW image to use.
I'm not a 'the Moon landings were faked' person, but how does this reconcile with manned Moon missions?
So I don't have to add another comment:
My first thought was, 'oh shit, how long before someone hacks one of these and repurposes it?'
This is a pretty good discussion:
Unfortunately the references I have for the “one hour” claim (which, to be fair, has a lot of uncertainty associated with it - it depends on the current space weather, where you are wrt your spacecraft, the engineering of your space suit, etc.) are all behind paywalls. Here’s one, if you can get it:
Apparently, the Apollo astronauts had a 43% mortality rate from cardiovascular disease, which the research quoted in this article attributes to radiation.
"Bob, the intern fat fingered the port number, how do you feel about a bit of a sight-seeing trip?"
"Quantum's coverage, bandwidth, power and frequency can all be altered in orbit."
All of those can be configured on several different modern satellites.
"It will bring unprecedented flexibility to our customers, allowing for in-orbit payload re-configuration and taking customisation to a new level, while also opening the way to a paradigm shift in the manufacture of telecommunications satellites,"
There is nothing this satellite does that's more customizable than others, such as mexsat from 2010:
"The components and technologies that enable software-defined satellites will become more and more the future of our industry,"
There is a trend towards the opposite, since space resources are a precious resource, allocating a substantial portion of the spacecraft for signal processing makes the bandwidth demand gap fall behind faster.
That makes it sounds like any other telco-satellite with beamforming.
Edit: More information from 
> Guilleux said the first Quantum satellite will have eight downlink beams that can range from a minimum diameter of 600 kilometers to a maximum of one-third of the Earth’s surface (the larger the beam, the more dispersed the signal power), and eight independent uplink beams. Customers can split any of those eight beams into smaller sub-beams and follow assets such as ships and planes, he said. O’Connor said the satellite will have a total of 3.5 GHz of capacity, from which any individual downlink beam could support up to 1 GHz. The first Eutelsat Quantum will function just in Ku-band, but Guilleux said future iterations could support other frequencies, including both military and civilian Ka-band.
 - https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Telecommunications_Integr...
 - https://spacenews.com/eutelsat-adding-two-more-quantum-satel...
My impression is that this is more of a tech demonstration satellite (to test the new payload, resource management software, etc) rather than an actual commercial satellite, as the total throughput seems to be much lower than state-of-the-art spacecraft from other companies.
I think this was answered by your link:
"Quantum was made possible by the British government, which is funding 90 percent of ESA’s commitment of 71 million euros in the Quantum program"
It's the government wasting a tremendous amount of money.
If your software/processor/bus can’t keep up with that data rate, you can always go lower in hardware and still leave enough headroom for software to tune and process.
I haven’t looked into SDR much though it’s in my “someday” list, so I don’t know how much is typically expected to be handled in software. I suppose it varies depending on the spectrum of interest.
My last project, the GHz spectrum was downcoverted in analog to the hundreds of MHz range, and digitally downconverted further with low pass filters and frequency shifting and then piping out over pcie to a ring buffer for software to do the interesting signal processing.
Xilinx has an RF Zynq FPGA in the works, or maybe available now, that has the analog front end conversion capabilities paired with an fpga with an embedded arm. (No affiliation)
Btw, you cannot use standard fpgas in space. They are a special kind hardened for radiation and redundancy.
How does the UK leaving the EU affect it's ESA membership?
Can the UK continue to use the French territorial launch sites as easily as they do now?
And finally, from the article, "23 of its 38 currently operational spacecraft as having British input". I wonder are they referring the to Isle of Man here? Which has plenty of satellite companies due to, from what I understand, a very favourable tax regime for space companies.
git push orbit master