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Thales and Pasqal Report Quantum Satellite Breakthrough

By Mark Holmes | May 17, 2024

Conceptual image for global business or European communication technology. Photo: Thales Alenia Space, elements from NASA

Pasqal and Thales Alenia Space have been using the power of quantum computing to make satellite technology more efficient and believe they have solved key satellite planning challenges through neutral-atom quantum computing. The power of quantum computing means the two companies can do more on this compared to classic computers.

The two companies say they have made a major breakthrough on the AQUAPS project which aims to explore neutral atom architectures to solve optimization problems, with a particular focus on satellite planning. Pasqal revealed details about the breakthrough, May 17.

The two companies say they have succeeded in solving a satellite planning problem on the Quantum Processing Unit (QPU). This experiment indicated that neutral atom quantum computers are particularly well-suited for this task, as there is a natural correspondence between the satellite planning problem and the arrangement of atoms in the QPU. This correspondence allows an efficient approach to solving optimization problems, thus offering new perspectives in the field of advanced satellite planning.

For the past three years, the teams from Pasqal and Thales, supported by the Île-de-France region and GENCI, have been exploring new methods to optimize planning and scheduling processes of critical systems using Pasqal’s quantum processor. Pasqal is quantum computing company that builds quantum processors from ordered neutral atoms in 2D and 3D arrays to bring a practical quantum advantage to its customers and address real-world problems.

“This close collaboration, financed by the Île-de-France region quantum plan and with the support of GENCI, not only allows Thales to accelerate the maturation of a space use case described by Thales Alenia Space (France & Italy) in the Quantum Computing for Earth Observation (QC4EO) study of the European Space Agency (ESA), but also opens the prospect of other collaborations with Pasqal to study scaling up for effective operational implementation,” Frédéric Barbaresco, Quantum Algorithms & Computing Segment Leader at Thales, said in a statement.