The quantum internet is a dream that many technologists have expounded in recent years. The idea is to exploit the strange quantum properties of photons and electrons to send messages with perfect secrecy.

That has obvious application for governments and the military, but it is increasingly of interest to banks and other commercial operations that need to secure everything from contracts to financial transactions. What’s more, this kind of security is increasingly needed because quantum computers will be able to break the codes currently used to keep many messages private.

And that raises an interesting question: How should scientists and engineers go about the task of building a quantum internet that spans the globe?

Today we get an answer thanks to the work of Sumeet Khatri and colleagues at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. This team has studied the various ways a quantum internet could be built and say the most cost-effective approach is to create a constellation of quantum-enabled satellites capable of continuously broadcasting entangled photons to the ground. In other words, the quantum internet should be space-based.

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