Feasibility of quantum key distribution from high altitude platforms

Yi Chu, Ross Donaldson, Rupesh Kumar, David Grace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents the feasibility study of deploying quantum key distribution (QKD) from high altitude platforms (HAPs), as a way of securing future communications applications and services. The paper provides a thorough review of the state of the art HAP technologies and summarises the benefits that HAPs can bring to the QKD services. A detailed link budget analysis is presented in the paper to evaluate the feasibility of delivering QKD from stratospheric HAPs flying at 20 km altitude. The results show a generous link budget under most operating conditions which brings the possibility of using diverged beams, thereby simplifying the pointing, acquisition and tracking of the optical system on the HAPs and ground, potentially widening the range of future use cases where QKD could be a viable solution.
Original languageEnglish
Article number035009
JournalQuantum Science and Technology
Issue number3
Early online date16 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Acquisition and tracking
  • High altitude platform
  • Link budget
  • Pointing
  • Quantum key distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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