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Tel Aviv University touts satellite launch as key step to reliable quantum communication

By Dan O'Shea posted 05 Jan 2023

Israel’s Tel Aviv University (TAU) announced that its latest nanosatellite, the TAU-SAT3, was launched this week aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

The satellite was one of more than 100 that Falcon 9 carried off the launchpad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

 TAU researchers said the launch of the satellite, which will orbit at 550 km above the Earth for the next five years, represents a significant step toward demonstrating reliable quantum communication between a satellite and a ground station.

“TAU leads Israel’s effort to create satellite communication channels based on optical and quantum technologies,” the researchers said in a statement. “To implement long-distance quantum communication over hundreds of kilometers or more we need to go into space. TAU-SAT3 is designed to pave the way toward demonstrating quantum communication via a quantum nanosatellite, to be built in the future at TAU.”

 Prof. Yaron Oz, Head of TAU’s Center for Quantum Science and Technology and former Rector of TAU, said, “The principles of quantum mechanics enable an unconditionally secure encryption method. Whenever a hostile entity tries to intercept a transmitted message, the message immediately dissipates. Moreover, the interception attempt is detected – unlike current encryption methods, in which interceptions remain undetectable.”

Oz added, “We hope that TAU-SAT3 will for the first time enable communication between an optical ground station and a satellite, taking us a significant step forward with regard to demonstrating reliable quantum communication.”

Several other organizations and countries have been working on projects using satellites to support quantum communications. India recently announced progress, and the European Quantum Communications Infrastructure project continues to move ahead as well. China also has been touting innovations in the field since at least 2020.

Photo: TAU researchers Orly Blumberg, Prof. Ofer Amrani, Prof. Meir Ariel, Dr. Dolev Bashi  and Idan Finkelstein. Photo credit: Tel Aviv University.

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.

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Notre Dame’s Golden Dome partially photographed through a sample (top left) of the TRC window coating.