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Quantum communication:China sends unbreakable code from space

Byte: Chinese scientists have successfully sent an unbreakable code from its Quantum communication to the Earth. It will be a major breakthrough in the development of a “hack-proof” global quantum communication network.

The satellite, called Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), is claimed to be the world’s first of its kind and was sent into a sun-synchronous orbit on Aug. 16, 2016. Nicknamed “Micius,” the satellite weighs over 600 kilograms and is situated nearly 500 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.

When the satellite flies over China, it provides an experiment window of about 10 minutes. During that time, the 300 kbit secure key can be generated and sent by satellite, according to Pan.

“That, for instance, can meet the demand of making an absolute safe phone call or transmitting a large amount of bank data,” Pan said.

“Satellite-based quantum key distribution can be linked to metropolitan quantum networks where fibers are sufficient and convenient to connect numerous users within a city over 100 km. We can thus envision a space-ground integrated quantum network, enabling quantum cryptography- most likely the first commercial application of quantum information- useful at a global scale,” Pan said.

“China is now the world’s leader in quantum communication technologies and is actively co-operating with scientists from Austria, Germany, and Italy in this field,” said Peng Chengzhi, a member of the research team and a professor at the University of Science and Technology in Hefei, Anhui province. “China will lead the quantum space race for the next five years.”

Chinese scientists hope to launch a second quantum communications satellite by the summer of 2021.

Pan Jianwei, the lead scientist of QUESS and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said that the quantum satellite provides an experiment window of about 10 minutes when it flies over China. Within this short time period, Micius can generate and send as many as 300 kbit secure keys, enough to make a highly secure phone call or transmit a large amount of bank data.


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