China sends the world's first quantum satellite into orbit

China sends the world's first quantum satellite into orbit

China sends the world's first quantum satellite into orbit

China has launched the world's first quantum satellite created to establish "hack-proof" communications.

The small object began its journey into space on top of a Long March 2D rocket launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia's Gobi Desert.

Named for ancient Chinese philosopher and scientist Micius, China's quantum communications satellite weighs 631 kilograms (1,391 pounds).

It will be used in experiments aimed at proving the viability of quantum technology to communicate over long distances.

The director added that it therefore impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it.

Zeilinger, who is now president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, expects quantum communications could lead to breakthroughs in the way people and companies send messages.

"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", Xinhua quoted Pan Jianwei, the satellite project's chief scientist.

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So far more than 10 listed companies are involved in quantum communications, such as Kehua Tech, Sanlux Co Ltd, Zhejiang Orient Holdings Co Ltd, Kaile Science and Technology Co Ltd and Digital China Information Service Company Ltd.

Moreover, the spacecraft will test quantum teleportation by using entangled photons plus data on their quantum states to reconstruct the photons in an identical quantum state in different location.

This March, the European Union announced its initiative on quantum technology with an investment of 1 billion euros (about 1.1 billion USA dollars), which is scheduled to launch in 2018.

The team will also test quantum key distribution, a form of secure communication in which the laws of quantum mechanics prevent eavesdroppers from snooping in.

This illustration of the Quantum Science Satellite was captured from a video report by China's CCTV state-run news channel. "You're trying to send a beam of light from a satellite that's 500 kilometers (310 miles) above you".

China is pouring billions of dollars into its scientific research, and quantum technology lies at the heart of its strategic aim to draw parallel with, or surpass, Western expertise. While short range quantum communication between two specific points has been tested successfully, variances in atmosphere, gravity, and even distance can disrupt sub atomic quantum messages.

The QUESS satellite will orbit at an altitude 100 km higher than the International Space Station and will initially talk to ground stations in Beijing and Urumqi, Xinjiang province, Xinhua said. China has previously announced the construction of a quantum link between Beijing and Shanghai that would be used by government agencies and banks. A similar rocket will launch QUESS into orbit.

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