Space Station to Host ‘Self-Healing’ Quantum Communications Tech Demo

SEAQUE will be hosted on the International Space Station by the Nanoracks Bishop airlock. The blue-and-gold brackets attached to the side of the airlock are for external payloads. The technology demonstration will be installed at one of those sites. (Credit: NASA)

The NASA-funded experiment will test two technologies that could eventually enable quantum computers to communicate with each other no matter where they are located.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A tiny experiment launching to the International Space Station later this year could set the stage for a future global quantum network. Called the Space Entanglement and Annealing QUantum Experiment (or SEAQUE), the milk-carton-size technology demonstration will test two communications technologies in the harsh environment of space.

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Department of Space Demonstrates Entanglement Based Quantum Communication Over 300m Free Space Along with Real Time Cryptographic Applications

Quantum communications demonstration (Credit: ISRO)

AHMEDABAD, India (ISRO PR) — On 27 January 2022, scientists from the two premier laboratories of Department of Space (DOS), viz. Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), both from the city of Ahmedabad, have jointly demonstrated quantum entanglement based real time Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) over 300m atmospheric channel along with quantum-secure text, image transmission and quantum-assisted two-way video calling.

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ISRO Makes Breakthrough Demonstration of Free-space Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) Over 300 Meters

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — For the first time in the country, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully demonstrated free-space Quantum Communication over a distance of 300 m.

A number of key technologies were developed indigenously to accomplish this major feat, which included the use of indigenously developed NAVIC receiver for time synchronization between the transmitter and receiver modules, and gimbal mechanism systems instead of bulky large-aperture telescopes for optical alignment.

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Honeywell Selects Loft Orbital to Provide the Launch & Satellite Bus for Quantum Key Distribution Mission

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, August 4, 2020 — Loft Orbital Solutions Inc (Loft Orbital) has signed a contract with Honeywell to provide launch service and satellite bus for the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) Quantum EncrYption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat) mission, for which Honeywell is the prime contractor.

The QEYSSat mission will demonstrate Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), a groundbreaking technology that has the potential to revolutionize encrypted communications. To date, the first and only space-based QKD demonstration has been performed by the Chinese Micius spacecraft in 2017.

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China Uses Quantum Physics for Secure Long-range, Satellite-based Communications

BEIJING (Chinese Academy of Sciences PR) — The exchange of a ‘secret key’ for encrypting and decrypting messages over a distance of 1,120 kilometres is reported in Nature. (Paper)

This achievement is made using entanglement-based quantum key distribution, a theoretically secure communication technique. Previous attempts to directly distribute quantum keys between two ground users under real-world conditions have reached distances of only around 100 kilometres.

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DLR Creates 7 New Institutes to Further Technology Development

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR) — Digitalisation, climate change and technological disruption are shaping the future. This is where interdisciplinary research at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) proves valuable.

On 27 June 2019, the DLR Senate approved the founding of seven new institutes and facilities. The background to this was a resolution passed in the German Federal Parliament on 23 November 2018. By taking this step, DLR is strengthening Germany as a location for technological research and creating highly-skilled jobs.

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Cybersecurity from Space: Canadian Government Invests in Quantum Technology

LONGUEUIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — Our digital economy depends on keeping data safe from hackers. Cybersecurity is a priority for the Government of Canada. The Canadian Space Agency’s Quantum EncrYption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat) mission will test quantum technology that protects communications in space.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is awarding a contract worth $30 million to Honeywell for the design and implementation phases of the QEYSSat mission.

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China Takes Lead in Quantum Space Race

A Chinese satellite has used quantum entanglement to communicate with three ground stations, taking the lead om creating secure communications systems that cannot be hacked.

In a landmark study, a team of Chinese scientists using an experimental satellite has tested quantum entanglement over unprecedented distances, beaming entangled pairs of photons to three ground stations across China—each separated by more than 1,200 kilometers. The test verifies a mysterious and long-held tenet of quantum theory, and firmly establishes China as the front-runner in a burgeoning “quantum space race” to create a secure, quantum-based global communications network—that is, a potentially unhackable “quantum internet” that would be of immense geopolitical importance. The findings were published Thursday in Science.

“China has taken the leadership in quantum communication,” says Nicolas Gisin, a physicist at the University of Geneva who was not involved in the study. “This demonstrates that global quantum communication is possible and will be achieved in the near future.”

The concept of quantum communications is considered the gold standard for security, in part because any compromising surveillance leaves its imprint on the transmission. Conventional encrypted messages require secret keys to decrypt, but those keys are vulnerable to eavesdropping as they are sent out into the ether. In quantum communications, however, these keys can be encoded in various quantum states of entangled photons—such as their polarization—and these states will be unavoidably altered if a message is intercepted by eavesdroppers. Ground-based quantum communications typically send entangled photon pairs via fiber-optic cables or open air. But collisions with ordinary atoms along the way disrupt the photons’ delicate quantum states, limiting transmission distances to a few hundred kilometers. Sophisticated devices called “quantum repeaters”—equipped with “quantum memory” modules—could in principle be daisy-chained together to receive, store and retransmit the quantum keys across longer distances, but this task is so complex and difficult that such systems remain largely theoretical.

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