China's quantum satellite - nicknamed Micius after a 5th century BC Chinese scientist - blasts off in China's northwest Gansu province on August 16, 2016. Photo: AFP/China OUT

Following a landmark study from the same scientist in June, which successfully demonstrated the ability to do so, a team of Chinese scientists have now become the first to realize quantum key distribution from a satellite to the ground, China’s state media reported Thursday.

The achievement, which sent quantum keys to ground stations in Hebei Province and the Northwestern Xinjiang region, builds on the previous research in laying the groundwork for a quantum communications network impervious to hacking.

The achievement puts China undeniably at the forefront, ahead of the United States and Japan, in the a “quantum space race” as the prospect of quantum computing power being harnessed to break current encryption methods looms on the horizon. Though quantum computers could conceivably hack the most secure transmissions now available, the quantum key distribution method achieved in China is theoretically invulnerable to eavesdropping of any kind.

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