|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Sep 24, 2016 06:22 PM EDT|
(Photo : Xinhua) Micius military quantum satellite
China's military-run space program said its Micius "quantum satellite" orbiting the Earth has established a "quantum channel" with ground stations.
This is an important step in the quest of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the armed forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to develop ultra secure military communications and quantum encryption systems impervious to hacking by the United States and its allies in a coming war.
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Quantum encryption uses the principle of "quantum entanglement" to foster communication that's totally safe against eavesdropping and decryption by others.
The satellite's true military nature is being disguised under the civilian name, Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, or QUESS. Publicly, QUESS is being billed as an international research project in the field of quantum physics.
Micius or Mozi is operated by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) while the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences run the satellite's European receiving stations. The quantum satellite was launched last Aug. 16 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.
QUESS is a proof-of-concept mission designed to facilitate quantum optics experiments over long distances to allow the development of military quantum encryption and military quantum teleportation technology.
Chinese quantum physicist Pan Jianwei, who led the team that developed Micius, said a quantum channel has been established between the satellite and ground stations. He said his team successfully passed photons, the quantum form of light, between the satellite and ground stations in Tibet and Xinjiang in western China.
QUESS' aim is to eventually send a quantum cryptographic key via the satellite from Beijing to Vienna to demonstrate that military-grade quantum encryption can't be broken.
Pan said his team is still figuring out how to protect photons from the interference of daylight. This flaw limits experiments to night time on Earth. They must also find a way to prevent the signals carried by photons from getting lost in the journey through the atmosphere, said Pan.
China plans a network of quantum satellites by 2030 that will augment a ground-based quantum computer network. This network will likely be extended from the currently operational 2,000 kilometer link between Beijing and Shanghai.
China's quantum communication network will serve as a dual-use strategic asset that will primarily advance PLA's capacity for power projection through a constellation of space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.
It will also assist the PLA's tactical warning and attack assessment; command, control, and communications; navigation and positioning and environmental monitoring.
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