China has been planning and preparing for the launch of its quantum-enabled satellite for some time now. And for good reason: it is not only a Chinese first, but a world first.

Now, China has actually done it! Just this past Tuesday, August 16, China has launched its Micius Quantum Space Satellite from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

Micius was named after a fifth century B.C. Chinese philosopher and scientist who was one of the first in the world conducting optical experiments.

The satellite contains the equipment needed for quantum key distribution, creating entangled photons that will change when a third party tries to observe them. This means that when someone tries to eavesdrop, the message will be altered and the interception will be obvious.

“The newly-launched satellite marks a transition in China’s role — from a follower in classic information technology (IT) development to one of the leaders guiding future IT achievements,” said Pan Jianwei, chief scientist of the project, to Chinese state media.


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