China launches quantum ‘hack-proof’ satellite

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Beijing, Aug 16 (IANS) China on Tuesday launched the world’s first quantum satellite, designed to establish “hack-proof” communication between space and the ground.

The satellite will also ensure a secured communication between Beijing and Xinjiang — a restive province in China.

Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) was launched at 1.40 a.m. on Tuesday from the Gobi Desert, the state media said here.

The feat is part of China’s aggressive space exploration drive with Beijing harbouring the ambition to surpass NASA and Russia.

“Becoming an aerospace power has always been a dream we’ve been striving for,” Chinese President Xi Jinping had said in April in his address to the country’s scientists.

Quantum communication boasts ultra-high security as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated. It is hence impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it.

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In its two-year mission, QUESS is designed to establish “hack-proof” quantum communications by transmitting uncrackable keys from space to the ground, and provide insights into the strangest phenomenon in quantum physics — quantum entanglement.

“With the help of the new satellite, scientists will be able to test quantum key distribution between the satellite and ground stations, and conduct secure quantum communications between Beijing and Xinjiang’s Urumqi,” the official media said.

The over 600kg satellite will circle the Earth once every 90 minutes after it enters a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 kms.

(Gaurav Sharma is the Beijing-based correspondent of IANS. He can be contacted at [email protected] or [email protected] )



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