Scientists Have Lost Contact With A Satellite Carrying A Secretive Quantum Drive

Rogue Space Systems recently announced the failure of its Barry 1 satellite, which occurred before they could test a controversial quantum drive propellantless propulsion system. Despite completing a portion of its primary mission, including tests of their Scalable Compute Platform (SCP), Barry 1 lost contact before any tests of IVO Ltd.’s Quantum Drive could be performed.

The satellite encountered ongoing power-system issues immediately after its November 11th, 2023 launch, persisting throughout the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP). After two months of operation, communication with the satellite was lost on February 9th, 2024. Rogue Space Systems suspended the active phase of their first on-orbit mission and initiated an investigation into the cause of the failure, while also attempting to reestablish communication with Barry 1.

Despite the setback, Rogue expressed their intent to pursue future launch opportunities with IVO, acknowledging their frustration at not being able to complete the Quantum Drive test. CEO Jon Beam praised IVO as a great customer and indicated discussions for a second attempt during upcoming missions in 2025. Similarly, IVO confirmed their exploration of future launch opportunities with Rogue while also considering other options to expedite their Quantum Drive’s deployment into space.

The Quantum Drive belongs to a controversial class of experimental propulsion systems that claim to generate thrust without any propellant, challenging conventional understanding of momentum and inertia. Prior to Barry 1, no such concept had been tested in the vacuum of space. Despite laboratory experiments showing thrust, the claims remain debated among physicists. The failure to test the Quantum Drive was met with a mix of frustration and hope in the Alternative Propulsion Community.

Tim Ventura, host of the Alternative Propulsion Engineering Conference (APEC), likened IVO’s setback to the iterative testing of SpaceX’s Starship prototypes, emphasizing the importance of learning from mistakes in pushing technological boundaries.

Fortunately, the Quantum Drive itself did not fail, but the opportunity for testing was missed. For future flights, IVO plans to use an improved version of the Quantum Drive design, maintaining its basic configuration while incorporating recent enhancements and customizations for compatibility with host satellites.

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