CQT spin-off SpeQtral announces satellite mission

The company will receive support from Singapore’s national space office on top of venture funding
18 February 2022

SpeQtral expects to launch its first satellite, to be known as SpeQtral-1, to perform quantum key distribution (QKD) with international partners in 2024. Image: SpeQtral


SpeQtral has announced that it expects to launch its first satellite to perform quantum key distribution (QKD) with international partners in 2024.

The company is a spin-off from CQT and the mission will have heritage from the nanosatellite SpooQy-1, designed by the group of CQT’s Alexander Ling and launched in 2019.

The new satellite, to be known as SpeQtral-1, was highlighted by Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Trade and Industry, in a speech opening the 14th Global Space and Technology Convention in Singapore on 9 February. He shared that Singapore’s national space office, the Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn), will support the project.

SpooQy-1 pioneered an instrument that creates the signals needed for QKD and is small enough to fit into a CubeSat-standard satellite. Whereas the SpooQy mission measured the signals onboard the satellite to test the instrument, SpeQtral-1 aims to distribute the signal to ground, establishing quantum keys between partners continents apart.

As Minister Gan said in his speech, “If successful, this would enable quantum-safe transmission of secure information through existing communication channels, and provide a future-proof solution to safeguard critical communications.”

The SpeQtral team includes some staff who previously worked on SpooQy-1 at CQT, and researchers at CQT will collaborate with SpeQtral in its upcoming mission. SpooQy-1 was supported by the National Research Foundation, Singapore, through a funding scheme for use-inspired research projects motivated by important needs.

“The development and launch of the SpeQtral-1 satellite will be an important milestone that marks the commercialisation of QKD capabilities that have been built up through Singapore’s investments in quantum research. OSTIn is pleased to support this mission by SpeQtral, which is testament to the deep technical capabilities of our local space startups and the richness of our space ecosystem,” said David Tan, Executive Director, OSTIn.

Chune Yang Lum, Co-founder and CEO of SpeQtral, said “We are thrilled to have the full support of OSTIn in executing the SpeQtral-1 mission, and share a common vision that space-based quantum communications will be a game-changing strategic technology in communications security. With the SpeQtral-1 satellite mission planning and development in full gear, we are poised to accelerate our engagements with international partners and end-users in securing global data communication networks.”

In November 2021, SpeQtral announced that it had closed a US$8.3 million (approximately S$ 11.2 million) financing led by Xora Innovation. As well as developing its satellite-based systems, the company is using that funding to expand its regional and international presence, establish strategic business partnerships, hire top talent, and support the commercial rollout of terrestrial systems.

Read the company’s full announcement here.