Chinese scientists are claiming to have become the first to lay the groundwork for a hack-proof global quantum communication network after claiming to have successfully distributed a quantum key from a satellite in space to the ground. Xinhuanet.com claims that the experiments conducted included the world’s first quantum satellite in a project dubbed Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) and published the results of the experiment in the academic journal “Nature” on thursday.
The satellite at the heart of the experiment is called “Micius” and gets its name from a 5th Century Chinese philosopher and scientist hailed as the first person to have conducted optical experiments. It weighs in at over 600 kg and is in a sun-synchronous orbit at 5,000 kilometers above the Earth.
The Chinese researchers say that the satellite was able to send quantum keys to a ground station in Xinglong and Nanshan. Communications distances between the satellite and ground stations varied between 645 km to 1,200 km. Researchers on the team say that the transmission rate for the quantum keys was 20 orders of magnitude more efficient than expected.
The experiment used an optical fiber of the same length according to a researcher. As the satellite flew over the ground station the window for transmitting the key was only about 10 minutes. That quantum key generated and sent was 300 kbit secure. The researchers are attempting to create a hack-proof communication network.