China's quantum satellite sends hack-proof code from space

China sends “unbreakable” quantum code from satellite

This transmission is the first step toward making this vision a reality.

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 August 16, 2016.

That time, Pentagon claimed that the launching of the satellite was indeed a "notable advance" move from the Asian country.

China has demonstrated a world first by sending data over long distances using satellites which is potentially unhackable, laying the basis for next generation encryption based on so-called "quantum cryptography".

This satellite-based technology opens up bright prospects for both practical quantum communications and fundamental quantum optics experiments at distances previously inaccessible on the ground. Quantum key technology is used in quantum communications to make eavesdropping impossible and to perfectly secure the communication. China has taken the lead in the development of quantum teleporting and transmissions and has deployed a local area quantum network in the eastern Chinese city of Jinan, which is part of a 2,000km network being built between Beijing and Shanghai.

One way to improve distribution lies in the protocol of quantum repeaters, whose practical usefulness, however, is hindered by the challenges of simultaneously realizing and integrating all key capabilities.

Current encryption technology relies on traditional mathematics that hackers can now solve using powerful computers. "To increase the coverage, we plan to send satellites to higher orbits and construct a satellite constellation, which requires developing many new technologies".

"Using the one-time pad encryption this key is proven to be secure ... to encrypt (and decrypt) a message, which can then be transmitted over a standard communication channel".

State news agency Xinhua called the encryption "unbreakable" and that's mainly because of the way data is carried via the photon.

The Micius satellite beamed messages to two mountain-top receiving stations 645 km (400 miles) and 1,200 km away. QKD uses photons the particles which transmit light to transfer data.

According to the system's designers, the system will self-destruct and the quantum state of the key will change if intercepted and measured. By 2030, China hopes to achieve its ambitious dream of establishing a global cryptography-based communication network.

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