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China takes lead in quantum communication with satellite

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-18 08:00

China takes lead in quantum communication with satellite

China successfully launched the world's first quantum satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gobi Desert at 1:40 am on Tuesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

THE WORLD'S FIRST quantum communication experimental satellite was successfully launched into space on Tuesday from Jiuquan in Northwest China's Gansu province. Beijing Youth Daily commented:

The Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, or QUESS, satellite is designed to test technology for hack-proof encrypted communications from space to the ground. Although there are fiber-optic quantum key distribution networks already in some countries, including China, this is the first large-scale attempt to use such quantum technology for satellite communications.

Simply speaking, quantum communication makes use of the quantum entanglement phenomenon. The satellite will create pairs of sub-atomic particles whose properties are dependent on one another, beaming one of the paired particles down to a base station on Earth. Theoretically, the information transmitted this way cannot be hacked, as any observation of an encryption key transmitted in this way would change the quantum state, changing the key and rendering it useless.

Hack-proof quantum communications are of course desirable for military purposes but also for the security of commercial communications.

If a network of quantum communication satellites is established then people would no longer need to worry about the security of digital payments because their information will be protected in the same way.

More importantly, if China continues taking the lead in quantum communication, it will have a bigger say in the global communication standards. Currently the internet is still dominated by the US in standards and technological agreements, and China hopes to break that monopoly with quantum communication technological breakthroughs.

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