If any of this sounds like a repeat of feats already accomplished decades ago by others (U.S. and Soviet Union), that glib observation falls to pieces when you consider technologies like China’s QUESS satellite—which will likely be orbiting overhead by the time you read this. Short for Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, QUESS marks a first-of-its-kind attempt to beam quantum-encrypted information between an orbiting satellite and ground stations below. By encoding that information into the quantum states of particles like photons, such security schemes ensure that any attempt to intercept or tamper with the transmission alerts both sender and receiver, making quantum encryption theoretically unbreakable.
In an era of global electronic surveillance, a quantum-communications network could sidestep even the best cyberintelligence operations, allowing Chinese military and intelligence assets to swap information while keeping potential adversaries or spies in the dark. As long as China is the only nation bouncing quantum communications around the atmosphere, it will enjoy scientific and strategic security advantages, as well as a boost to economic security: QUESS researchers say that a long-term goal is the protection of financial communications.
Vid on China’s Long March 7 rocket