By Mahmut Atanur
BEIJING (AA) – China has launched the world’s first quantum satellite designed to establish "hack-proof" communications.
State media reported that the 631-kilogram (1,390-pound) satellite, Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Center in the Gobi Desert’s northwest at 1.40 a.m. Tuesday (1740GMT Monday).
QUESS -- which will revolve around the Earth every 90 minutes -- is due to transmit “uncrackable” space-to-ground keys, setting up secure quantum communications.
Scientists also hope that tests will offer “insights into the strangest phenomenon in quantum physics -- quantum entanglement”, as well as into quantum key distribution between satellite and ground stations, during its two-year mission, according to news agency Xinhua.
Pan Jianwei, chief scientist of the QUESS project with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was quoted by China Daily as saying that the satellite “marks a transition in China's role -- from a follower in classic information technology [IT] development to one of the leaders guiding future IT achievements”.
Quantum physics studies particles at a scale smaller than atoms, with research revealing that quantum communications are “practically impossible” to intercept, wiretap or crack.
Attempts to interfere with the transmission of such communications result in their becoming marked and disrupted in a manner detectable by the parties involved.
The Daily reported that chief scientist Pan’s team has more projects planned, such as those involving tests on inter-satellite quantum communications, all-time quantum communications and quantum key network applications.
"If China is going to send more quantum communication satellites into orbit, we can expect a global network of quantum communications to be set up around 2030," he underlined.