Seen here on its slow way to launch, but actually launched in the Gobi desert on 16 August and carried by a Long March-2D rocket, is Micius, the planet’s only unhackable comms satellite.

The bird is said by Chinese officials to contain Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) – an contraption which uses entangled photons. It works by splitting photons into two identical photons which have identical properties. When the properties of one of the split photons is changed, the properties of the other one also changes in an identical way and that, according to the same officials, may help “substantially” to prevent unauthorized access to calls made via the sat.

In practice, the quantum satellite will conduct experiments on high-speed quantum key distribution between the satellite and ground stations, as well as explore quantum teleportation for the first time in the world, all according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). And let’s not query “in the world” in CAS’s statement, shall we?

In an earlier Elektor e-zine news item I reported on the great potential offered by quantum computing to keep hackers out. In this video from WSJ Video, Professor Hoi Fung Chau of Hong Kong University explains how quantum physics can be used to frustrate hackers. WSJ should have his phone number. Give him a call over a regular comsat if you think his reasoning can be improved.