On August 16, China launched the world’s first quantum communications experiment satellite into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.
The small satellite, named Micius after an ancient Chinese philosopher, is tasked to establish a hack-proof communication line – a quantum key distribution network, while performing a series of quantum entanglement experiments in space for the first time.
Although this is exciting for China and for the world’s scientific knowledge base, it is bad for the United States. Assuming the quantum communications experiments elicit lessons learned to create hack-proof satellite communications, China will soon make quantum leaps in technology, and eventually, profit, off quantum communications. Granted, China had to spent $10B in 2015 to get this far, but this is significantly more than its competitors have spent. Allegedly, China invested in quantum communications out of fear that the United States could hack into Chinese satellite systems. In return, China is enticing its best scientists–many of whom were educated outside China–to return home and bolster the technology in the homeland.