While humanity may be a long way from "beaming" humans aboard a starship, scientists have made major strides in teleporting information. In March, German physicists made major advances in "quantum teleportation," transmitting data across physical distance without a time delay.
This week, China launched its Micius satellite that it claims uses this technology.
"It is a noble and difficult endeavor and I applaud the Chinese Academy of Sciences for its vision," said Spyridon Michalakis, a scientist with the California Institute of Technology, according to Xinhua news agency.
"The launch of the first satellite to carry technology capable of space-based quantum cryptography is an important milestone towards the creation of a space-based quantum internet."
In addition to quantum teleportation, China also claims that the satellite is unhackable, due to its reliance on subatomic particles that self-destruct if intercepted.
"It moves the challenge for an eavesdropper to a different domain," said Alexander Ling, principle investigator at the Center for Quantum Technologies in Singapore.
"Lots of people around the world think having secure communications at a quantum level is important. The Europeans, the Americans had the lead, but now the Chinese are showing the way forward."
While teleportation technology may, for the time being, be limited to information, Kubatbek Tekeshov of Kyrgyz State University of Construction, Transport and Architecture, believes the Micius to be a major step toward relocating physical objects.
"With the help of quantum we have the opportunity to move particles," he said.
"Now the scientific community can confidently say that China has made a great leap forward, and opened a new era for all mankind."