On Tuesday China launched a satellite that enables hack proof communication. The satellite uses quantum technology a burgeoning field of physics and engineering that seeks to apply the mechanics of tiny, subatomic particles to everything from secure communications to medical imaging.
Named for ancient Chinese philosopher and scientist Micius, China’s quantum communications satellite weighs 631 kilograms (1,391 pounds). It’s expected to orbit roughly 500 kilometers (310 miles) above Earth’s surface for the next two years, according to Chinese state media.
China is the first country to launch a satellite of this type, and it should give the country a key advantage in the global cyber security race.
Quantum communication is considered highly secure because the properties of a quantum photon used in sending information back and forth, mean it can’t be separated or copied.
The technology can also “generate a secret ‘key’ that only the sender and receiver are privy to, so the security level protecting the information is very high and difficult to intercept,” said Zhang Wenzhuo, an associate physics professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The country named quantum technology development as a priority in its most recent five-year plan. Leading the charge could also translate to future economic benefits for the world’s second-largest economy.