China sends "unbreakable" quantum code from satellite

China's quantum satellite successfully sends hack-proof message

In a summary of their experiment published on Thursday in the scientific journal Nature, the team led by Pan Jianwei said the transmissions had traveled as far as 1,400km between base stations in central and western China and a satellite launched past year.

China is hitting the accelerator on space exploration with Chinese scientists becoming the first to send an "unbreakable" code from a satellite to the Earth.

That time, Pentagon claimed that the launching of the satellite was indeed a "notable advance" move from the Asian country.

China has sent an unbreakable code from its satellite to the Earth, laying the foundation for building a hack-proof global quantum communication network, official media said on Thursday.

Communications were sent from the satellite to two ground stations-one in Xinglong and the other in Nanshan near Urumqi, the report said. The objective is to create an even broad, secure network, potentially linking people anywhere in the world.

The technology is known as quantum key distribution (QKD).

Today, encryptions are based on traditional mathematics.


"Using the one-time pad encryption this key is proven to be secure ... to encrypt (and decrypt) a message, which can then be transmitted over a standard communication channel".

The Nature reviewers commented that the experiment was an impressive achievement, and constituted a milestone in the field, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The satellite sent quantum keys up to 1,200km in the test, making it 20 times more efficient using optical fibre, according to Pan Jian-Wei, the experiment's lead scientist. QKD uses photons the particles which transmit light to transfer data. Also, any attempt to measure the message will distort or damage the data.

China still lags behind the United States and Russian Federation in space technology, although President Xi Jinping has prioritized advancing its space program, citing national security and defense. The tech would also make it far more hard for governments to spy on private communications - something that global leaders and agencies around the world have a vested interest in.

"Satellite-based quantum key distribution can be linked to metropolitan quantum networks where fibers are sufficient and convenient to connect numerous users within a city over 100 km".

"We can thus envision a space-ground integrated quantum network, enabling quantum cryptography, most likely the first commercial application of quantum information, useful at a global scale". Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

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