Beijing launched the world’s first quantum satellite yesterday, which will help it establish “hack-proof” communications between space and the ground, state media said, the latest advance in an ambitious space programme.
The Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, or QUESS, satellite, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the remote northwestern province of Gansu in the early hours of Tuesday.
“In its two-year mission, QUESS is designed to establish ‘hack-proof’ quantum communications by transmitting uncrackable keys from space to the ground,” said the official Xinhua news agency.
“Quantum communication boasts ultra-high security as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated. It is hence impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it.”
“The newly-launched satellite marks a transition in China’s role - from a follower in classic information technology development to one of the leaders guiding future achievements,” said Pan Jianwei, the project’s chief scientist.
Chau Hoi-fung, a professor of physics at the University of Hong Kong, said it would not be easy for the satellite to ensure the smooth communication from space to the earth.
“Technological problems still have to be solved, such as reliability, accuracy and durability. Our planet’s atmosphere is a big obstacle for teleporting information. We need to figure out how the noise from the atmosphere can be eliminated,” he says. “The satellite seems to be a real breakthrough, but one of its missions - quantum teleportation in space - still has a long way to go, because it’s not a short distance from space to the ground.”