The first quantum communications satellite developed by China is expected to launch in July of this year. The Beijing–Shanghai quantum private communications line will also be opened in the second half of this year, according to Pan Jianwei, academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, during an interview with China Youth Daily.
According to Pan, this milestone means that a quantum communications network will be formed, and that 30 years of research on quantum information will be finally put to use. Pan said that quantum communication between the satellite and the ground will be achieved for the first time anywhere in the world.
In recent years, quantum communications is considered to be supportive research for next-generation communication technology because of its transmission efficiency and absolute security. Pan said that, as quantum technology is indivisible and cannot be cloned, it may be implemented as an information carrier for the distribution of sensitive information, thereby guaranteeing the secure transmission of important content. Quantum communications research has become a focus and frontier of global research in physics.
China started developing its quantum satellite in 2011, and launched the quantum optical fiber communication network project, the Beijing–Shanghai line, in 2013. The Beijing–Shanghai quantum private communications line will cover a total length of over 2,000 kilometers, connecting a network of numerous cities including Beijing, Jinan, Hefei and Shanghai. It will be the world’s first wide-area optic fiber quantum private network.
According to Pan, the assembly of the quantum satellite has already been completed. The satellite has passed electrical measurement and thermal balance testing, and is currently undergoing mechanical and magnetic testing in Shanghai’s Small Satellite Engineering Center.
"With further development, quantum communications should benefit millions of households in the near future," Pan said, adding: "I hope that within another 10 years of hard work, online transfers and payments can be guaranteed through quantum communication for every consumer."