"Moreover, long-distance 'quantum teleportation' experiments could be conducted--the first baby steps towards realizing the famous Star Trek 'Beam me up, Scotty' command may be only a few years away," Jennewein wrote in the magazine "Physics World." In quantum teleportation, actual objects themselves are not beamed up. Instead, their information—encoded in a quantum state—would vanish from a particle on Earth and then reappear in a particle in space.
The scheme would require three photons, Jennewein said. One, the input photon, to be teleported, and two others, entangled and separated.
"The input photon is correlated with one of the entangled ones, and thereby its quantum state is fully transferred onto the other entangled photon, which can be at a distance," Jennewein said. "The final photon is the new 'original,' and the initial photons completely lose their information."
An additional benefit of developing a quantum satellite system is that it would enable physicists to test quantum theory over much greater distances.