China launches world’s first quantum satellite
CHINA launched the world’s first quantum satellite yesterday, state media reported, in an effort to harness the power of particle physics to build an unbreakable system of encrypted communications.
The launch, in the southwestern Gobi Desert, comes as the United States, Japan and others also seek to develop applications for the burgeoning technology.
The satellite – nicknamed Micius after a 5th-century BC Chinese scientist – will be used in experiments intended to prove the viability of quantum technology to communicate over long distances.
Unlike traditional secure communication methods, the system uses photons to send encryption keys to decode information.
The data contained in the bursts of subatomic particles is impossible to intercept: Any attempts at eavesdropping will cause them to self-destruct.
While scientists have shown the trick can be used to transmit messages over relatively short distances, technical hurdles have kept longrange communication out of reach.