Satellite program could solve fundamental information security problem

By Ding Xuezhen Source:Global Times Published: 2016-5-30 1:08:01

China on Saturday announced the July launch of its first experimental satellite for quantum communication, a development that could "fundamentally" solve the problem of information security in information transmission, the spacecraft's creators claim.

The launch will mark the world's first instance of quantum communication through a satellite, Pan Jianwei, chief scientist with the quantum communication satellite project at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying.

Quantum communication boasts ultra-high security, which would help fundamentally solve the problem of information security, said Pan, who is also a quantum physicist with the University of Science and Technology of China.

It is impossible to tap or intercept the information transmitted through quantum communication because a quantum photon can be neither separated nor duplicated, Pan explained.

"Quantum communicationcan ensure a high degree of information security, as wiretapping such communications will break their quantum state, which will be noticeable to the communicating parties," Li Miao, dean of the Institute of Astronomy and Space Science at Sun Yat-sen University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"The satellite mainly serves scientific research purposes and will help test many frontier theories in quantum science," Wu Ji, director of the National Space Science Center under the CAS, told the Global Times.

The quantum communication project includes the satellite's launch, the construction of four ground stations for quantum communication and the construction of one space quantum teleportation experiment station, Pan said.

He added that upon completion, the satellite will be able to establish quantum optical links with two ground bases simultaneously, even though those stations are thousands of kilometers apart, Xinhua reported.

Pan noted that the Beijing-Shanghai fiber-optic quantum communication line will be opened in the second half of this year, adding that the project will create a highly trustworthy, expandable, wide-area fiber-optic quantum communication network for both military and civilian purposes.

However, Li called the satellite an "exploratory" move, noting there is still a long way to go before quantum communication can be put into daily use.

China is not the only country making efforts in the quantum research field. Earlier this month, the European Commission announcedthat it was preparing to launch a 1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) flagship initiative on quantum technologies, including secure communication, sensing, simulation and computing, Xinhua reported.

In addition to the first quantum satellite to be launched from Jiuquan Satellite LaunchCenter in July, Wu noted that China called for the construction of three other scientific satellites in its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), all four of which will have been launched by the end of this year.

China dispatched its first satellite to investigate dark matter in December and launched a retrievable microgravity satellite to research microgravity and the science of life in space in April.
Newspaper headline: China takes quantum communication leap

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