The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Monday it has successfully demonstrated free-space Quantum Communication over a distance of 300 metres, for the first time in the country.
A number of key technologies were developed indigenously to accomplish this major feat, which included the use of indigenously developed ‘NAVIC’ receiver for time synchronisation between the transmitter and receiver modules, and gimbal mechanism systems instead of bulky large-aperture telescopes for optical alignment, it said.
“The demonstration has included live videoconferencing using quantum-key-encrypted signals. This is a major milestone achievement for unconditionally secured satellite data communication using quantum technologies,” the Bengaluru-headquartered space agency said in a statement.
The Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology underpins Quantum Communication technology that ensures unconditional data security by virtue of the principles of quantum mechanics, which is not possible with the conventional encryption systems, ISRO explained.
The conventional cryptosystems used for data-encryption rely on the complexity of mathematical algorithms, whereas the security offered by quantum communication is based on the laws of Physics.
“Therefore, quantum cryptography is considered as ‘future-proof’, since no future advancements in the computational power can break quantum-cryptosystem”, according to ISRO.
The free-space QKD was demonstrated at Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, between two line-of-sight buildings within the campus.
The experiment was performed at night, in order to ensure that there is no interference of the direct sunlight.
“The experiment is a major breakthrough towards ISRO’s goal of demonstrating Satellite Based Quantum Communication (SBQC), where ISRO is gearing up to demonstrate the technology between two Indian ground stations”, it said.
In another development, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and National Institute of Technology(NIT), Rourkela have signed an MoU for setting up a Space Technology Incubation Centre(S-TIC).
The MoU was signed on 18 March 2021, after ISRO agreed to set up a Space Technology Incubation Centre(S-TIC) at NIT Rourkela. This collaboration with ISRO will open up new opportunities for research and development as well as space startups, an NIT Rourkela official said.
(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)