China’s Satellite Communication Launches Potential Quantum Breakthrough

China may be about to change satellite communication as we know it for the better. On Tuesday, the new quantum satellite was sent into orbit with a Long March-2D rocket, opening a potential for a future closer to what ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden might feel we need.

The satellite is said to be able to open communication that is unhackable so no secret agencies or activists can find information mid-transit and alter it for their own benefit. Xinhua announced the effort yesterday as part of a search for more secure networking, something nations across the planet have been striving for decades to achieve.

“The satellite’s two-year mission will be to develop ‘hack-proof’ quantum communications, allowing users to send messages securely and at speeds faster than light.”

Technically, nothing is hack-proof, but the entangled photons will change in state if they are tampered with, so even if it reaches its destination, it will be known that something was done to it.

This also means there should be minimum or no delay in emails, text messages, and instant messages, at least for China. They have been known to keep their internet firmly within their own nation. While the rest of the world can access their websites, China bans most foreign websites and images in favor of their own. They mostly do this to cut down on political unrest among citizens. They even stop certain Hollywood films and TV shows from reaching their shores.

What this could mean for the rest of the world is that government agencies will find it much tougher to read our emails if a certain word is mentioned. However, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as absolute security. Just because the average hacker can’t access it doesn’t mean there isn’t some government agent using the deep web and gaining full access. It’s a concept teased in many movies and TV shows in the past few decades.

The Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) will supposedly use entangled photons and uncrackable keys to make satellite communication more secure than ever. Entangled photons are expected to self-destruct when tampered with, so the keys inside would be lost or unusable. The easiest way to explain it, according to Fortune, is that it’s like writing a message on a soap bubble.

The nickname for this satellite is Micius, named after a Chinese philosopher in fifth century B.C., as a way to spread knowledge of Chinese culture. Micius was famous for his teachings of universal love and his groundbreaking optical experiments.

This isn’t the first time China has made breakthroughs in electronic realms, as the past 10 years in a row marked China’s reputation for creating the world’s fastest super-computers. We might even see China gain dominance in the global market as more and more tech firms make the transition toward their technology to stay ahead.

Of course, the science is still experimental, so it should be said with caution that China’s new satellite communication technique might not work at all. If it does, it might even unlock the potential for something Star Trek fans have dreamed of since the 60s.

The QUESS might also be the first step toward physical teleportation.

There are many risks in creating such technology, but according to Chinese physicist Pan Jianwei via the Guardian, “if you want to explore new physics, you must push the limit. I think China has an obligation not just to do something for ourselves – many other countries have been to the moon, have done manned spaceflight – but to explore something unknown.”

[Image via lexaarts/]