Chinese officials say the world's first quantum satellite will enable them to have a hack proof communication system.
On Tuesday China launched the wold's first quantum satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province. It is nicknamed "Micius" after a fifth century B.C. Chinese philosopher.
"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," Chinese media reported. Also it hopes to provide insights into quantum entanglement, the strangest phenomenon in quantum physics.
The Quantum Experiments at Space Scale or QUESS is part of the space program which is a priority for Chinese President Xi Jinping. He wants to establish China as a space power with an ambitious five-year plan for space exploration.
"Quantum communication boasts ultra-high security as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated. It is hence impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it."
This will enable communications between Beijing and Urumqi where government says it is battling an Islamist insurgency.
Although it is unclear how much exactly China has invested in building the 1,400 pound satellite the government fund for basic research which includes quantum physics was $101 billion in 2015. On the other hand the US invests $200
Pan Jianwei, the project chief scientist told Reuters, "The newly-launched satellite marks a transition in China's role - from a follower in classic information technology development to one of the leaders guiding future achievements."
"The scientists now are expecting quantum communications to fundamentally change human development in the next two or three decades, as there are enormous prospects for applying the new generation of communication in fields like defense, military and finance," Chinese media reported.
China has insisted their space program is for peaceful purposes but the US Defense Department says they're developing these activities to prevent others to use space-based assets during a crisis.