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World’s First Quantum-Communications Satellite Launched by China

Aug 16, 2016 04:46 AM EDT
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After successfully sending a rover to the moon, China has once again trumped over its neighboring countries. China has managed to launch a rocket with the world's first ever quantum-communication satellite. It is one of science's most challenging fields, especially in this day and age of cyberespionage.

China is on its way to hack-proof communications thanks to a quantum-communications satellite launched from the Gobi Desert early Tuesday. The rocket was launched at specifically 1:40pm ET. The quantum-satellite, which is 600 plus kilograms in weight, was designed to distribute keys between China and Europe's relay stations.

"The newly-launched satellite marks a transition in China's role - from a follower in classic information technology (IT) development to one of the leaders guiding future IT achievements," said Pan Jianwei, the chief scientist of QUESS project with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

If all goes as planned, the result would be an unprecedented level of security between both parties. How exactly does the satellite work? Quite similar to existing fiber-based quantum key distribution networks in the US, Europe, and China, the satellite incorporates the same principles of quantum cryptography. Through noise monitoring, the system would allow distant parties to obtain identical data without interception from outside parties. Basically, the system resists all forms of decryption.

China's satellite utilizes high-speed coherent lasers which connect to base stations found on two different continents. The payload of the satellite also includes emitters and controllers which are related to quantum entanglement. Though China's satellite launch was successful, there is still no guarantee that the quantum satellite system would work.

"If China is going to send more quantum communication satellites into orbit, we can expect a global network of quantum communications to be set up around 2030," added Pan.

While China might have launched the rocket, it was a project first proposed to the European Space Agency back in 2001. Anton Zeilinger had proposed the quantum satellite system, who is now working on the Chinese project.

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