To provide reliably secure communications, development of practical quantum optical devices for ground-to-space quantum key distribution is a necessity. The proposed technology offers a path to provably, unconditionally secure quantum encryption meeting future NASA security requirements. A space-based implementation of the technology may also answer important questions in fundamental physics by testing the properties of quantum entanglements over much greater distances than ever before, and due to earth's gravitational curvature may provide an insight to the relationship between gravity and quantum physics.
Quantum-based communication is of prime interest to corporations and government agencies with high security requirements. In cases where classical schemes are not considered trustworthy, key distribution by courier is typically used. Unlike human courier networks, quantum cryptography has the ability to detect interception of the key, has greater reliability and operating costs, and is automatic and instantaneous. For long distance quantum communication to be practical, ground-to-space links are a necessity due to the current limitations of optical fiber and photon detectors in ground-to-ground links. Additionally, the path to creating entangled photon sources that are as ubiquitous as diode lasers are today has implications in whole new arenas of economic development in addition to national security.