The NanoQEY mission: Ground to space quantum key and entanglement distribution using a nanosatellite
© 2014 SPIE. The NanoQEY (Nano Quantum Encryption) Satellite is a proposed nanosatellite mission concept developed by the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo and the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) that would demonstrate long-distance quantum key distribution (QKD) between two distant ground stations on Earth using an optical uplink. SFL's existing and proven NEMO (Nanosatellite for Earth Monitoring and Observation) bus forms the baseline spacecraft for NanoQEY, with a QKD receiver payload designed by IQC. The primary objective of the NanoQEY mission would be to successfully distribute at least 10 kbit of secure key between two optical ground stations, where the satellite acts as a trusted node. The secondary mission objective would be to perform Bell tests for entangled photons between ground and space. We designed a compact QKD receiver payload that would be compatible with the mass, volume, power and performance constraints of a low-cost nanosatellite platform. The low-cost rapid schedule "microspace" approach of UTIAS/SFL would allow for the proposed NanoQEY mission to be developed in 2.5 years from project kick-off to launch of the spacecraft, followed by a one-year on-orbit mission.