China will launch its first experimental quantum communication satellite in July 2016, whose communications cannot be intercepted. It will be the first quantum communication through a satellite in the world. Chinese scientists have taken five years to develop and manufacture the first quantum satellite. China’s near-term goal is to create an Asia-Europe Intercontinental quantum key distribution by 2020 and a global quantum communications network by 2030. The technology is also expected to further power China’s 2,000km quantum computer network, which connects Beijing and Shanghai and is currently under construction.
The project will bring revolutionary changes in communications. It includes launch of a satellite and building of four ground stations for quantum communication and one space quantum teleportation experiment station.
Features/Specifications of ‘Hack Proof’ Quantum Communication Satellite
- Quantum communication satellite will be communicating through quantum optical links simultaneously with two ground bases thousands of kilometres apart on earth.
- Satellite-based quantum communications overcome the huge costs of a terrestrial-based system.
- The technology works by two people sharing a message which is encrypted by a secret key made up of quantum particles, such as polarized photons.
- If a third person tries to intercept the photons by copying the secret key as it travels through the network, then the eavesdropper will be revealed by virtue of the laws of quantum mechanics – which dictate that the act of interfering with the network affects the behaviour of the key in an unpredictable manner.
- It can transmit sensitive diplomatic, government policy and military information.
- The satellite would likely be used to channelize encoded data through a method called Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) which relies on cryptographic keys transmitted via light pulse signals. QKD is said to be nearly impossible to hack and thus could be easily detected by dataflow monitors.
- It should find itself relaying video, data, telephone calls and broadband connectivity to a range of customers – some static, some on the move.
- Quantum could even feed direct-to-home TV if required, although this is one application for which it would not be best-suited.
China is beefing up its cyber and national security in a big way as it is reportedly just months away from launching the longest quantum communications network on earth stretching some 2,000 kilometer between its capital Beijing and financial center Shanghai to transfer data close to the speed of light with no hacking risks – initially to transmit sensitive diplomatic and classified information for the government and military with personal and financial data also on the cards for the near future..The quantum satellite programme, which was inaugurated in 2011 by Jianwei, is part of China’s Strategic Priority Program on Space Science.