Fundamental laws of quantum physics guarantee the security of encryption keys generated through quantum key distribution, in contrast to standard encryption techniques which rely on assumptions about an eavesdropper's computational ability. That said, special technology is necessary to facilitate quantum key distribution transmissions between parties that are more than a couple of hundred kilometers apart.
A near-term solution is to use an orbiting satellite as a trusted quantum receiver. Here we detail specifically chosen algorithms that make up an implementation of quantum key distribution, suitable for a satellite receiver platform. We examine these algorithms' computational requirements while demonstrating them experimentally as we emulate the variable channel losses that would be experienced during a satellite pass (following those we published about previously).
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