Microsoft Partners With NASA To Take Quantum Computing Into Space

Microsoft and NASA are using Azure’s quantum intelligence to help coordinate spacecraft.

The advances in quantum computing that are occurring are similar to the space race in some ways: massive investment by massive entities in futuristic technology designed to take humanity to the next level.

Today, NASA and Microsoft are taking that to the next level with a collaboration that should make it easier for the US space agency to coordinate its spacecraft, which is a difficult process as any on the planet. What is the ultimate goal? Using quantum technology, we can reduce the time it takes to transmit instructions from hours to minutes.

“As NASA launches more frequent and complex missions into space, managing communications with an increasing number of spacecraft is becoming increasingly difficult,” Microsoft writes in a blog post (opens in new tab). “NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has turned to Azure Quantum to investigate more efficient ways of communicating with spacecraft exploring our solar system and beyond.”

The quantum governs the waves

There are even early indications of success. During testing, Microsoft recorded scheduled runtimes of 16 minutes, far less than the two or more hours previously required by NASA. NASA would be able to create many schedules with a broader rollout, allowing the organization to become more agile.

Microsoft hasn’t revealed many other details about the collaboration, but we’re sure we’ll learn more as time goes on and quantum technology is applied to one of space travel’s lesser-known bottlenecks.

Quantum technology deviates from the existing binary system, in which inputs can only be one or zero, by introducing states between those inputs and allowing them to be both at the same time.

As a result, computation occurs much more quickly, as demonstrated by the preceding example, and we are only at the beginning of quantum computing research. It’s similar to when PCs had 32KB of RAM compared to running a rig with 256GB, both in terms of future potential and in comparison to existing computing power.

Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, the United States, China, and a slew of startups, countries, and large corporations are currently researching the field to gain a competitive advantage in the next wave of computing.

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