Gündoğan, M., Sidhu, J.S., Henderson, V. et al. Proposal for space-borne quantum memories for global quantum networking. npj Quantum Inf 7, 128 (2021). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41534-021-00460-9
Global-scale quantum communication links will form the backbone of the quantum internet. However, exponential loss in optical fibres precludes any realistic application beyond few hundred kilometres. Quantum repeaters and space-based systems offer solutions to overcome this limitation. Here, we analyse the use of quantum memory (QM)-equipped satellites for quantum communication focussing on global range repeaters and memory-assisted (MA-) QKD, where QMs help increase the key rate by synchronising otherwise probabilistic detection events. We demonstrate that satellites equipped with QMs provide three orders of magnitude faster entanglement distribution rates than existing protocols based on fibre-based repeaters or space systems without QMs. We analyse how entanglement distribution performance depends on memory characteristics, determine benchmarks to assess the performance of different tasks and propose various architectures for light-matter interfaces. Our work provides a roadmap to realise unconditionally secure quantum communications over global distances with near-term technologies.