Oops! Controversial Quantum Drives Are Now Lost in Space

20th Feb 2024
Oops! Controversial Quantum Drives Are Now Lost in Space

Rouge Space Systems’ (RSS) Barry-1 satellite, which was carrying IVO’s controversial Quantum Drives, has gone missing. Suspected to be lost in deep space, RSS reported the disappearance on 9th February. 

RSS deployed the satellite to test a range of systems for various customers and their own in-house designs. However, only a meagre amount of testing was able to take place. As a result, IVO’s first-of-its-kind Quantum Drives failed to see any action, nor were RSS able to validate if they work.  

In a statement, RSS explained: “[our] operations team is announcing the suspension of the active phase of our first on orbit mission. We had ongoing power-system issues on the bus through LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase), and after two months of operations, towards the end of LEOP, we lost communication with the satellite.” 

What Happened To Barry-1?

First launched in November 2023 onboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, RSS’ Barry-1 is a small cubesat designed to demonstrate “Rouge’s novel technology”. The feat was part of SpaceX’s rideshare project called Transporter-9. After being successfully inserted into orbit, the satellite was originally given some rest-bite before operations began. 

During its lifetime in orbit, Barry-1 would have tested RSS’ Scalable Compute Platform which was partially funded via the SpaceWERX Orbital Prime Program. The platform was poised to “aggregate data from multiple sensors and process it in real-time, enabling fast onboard decision-making and safer operations,” RSS said. 

However, after two months in orbit, Barry-1 abruptly failed to respond and communications were lost thereafter. Although the reasoning behind the disappearance is unclear, RSS affirmed they are still trying to re-engage the satellite. Equally, an investigation is ongoing. Barry-1’s current phase, LEOP, has been officially suspended. 

IVO’s Quantum Drive Also Missing

Whilst many technologies were onboard Barry-1, one of the main eye-catching systems was IVO’s Quantum Drives. RSS said – at the time of launch – the two “propellant-less propulsion systems” were integrated with Barry-1 and would be demonstrated in low Earth orbit. RSS’ role in the IVO experiment was to validate and test the system in real-life scenarios in LEO. However, the attention the Quantum Drives drew was not all praise. 

According to Forbes, IVO attracted amassing criticism for their Quantum Drives. The reason was that experts were sceptical due to the system’s apparent ability to bend the laws of physics. As a result of being propellent-less, they would have ultimately defied Newton’s law of motion whilst in space. Therefore, many believed a Quantum Drive would not be possible. Nonetheless, with Barry-1’s apparent disconnection, IVO’s ability to prove their doubters wrong has stagnated.  

What’s Next For Barry-1 & IVO?   

Engineers are still attempting to restart communications with Barry-1, but a time scale hasn’t been announced. Prior to the malfunction, however, RSS said: “Rogue performed some testing of the SCP. [We] never had the opportunity to test the IVO drive.” 

As a consolation, RSS have tabled an alternative option for IVO’s Quantum Drives. That being, a proposal to launch the drives onboard RSS’ upcoming 2025 Rouge hosting missions. RSS’ CEO, Jon Beam, said: “I’d like to take the opportunity to praise IVO… we are in discussions on a second attempt during one of our upcoming new missions.” 

Whilst the mission remains a bust for the time being, RSS still holds a positive outlook. They said: “Despite the loss of communication, we met many goals with the mission, including some testing on SCP.” To conclude, RSS remarked: “We would like to take this time to thank the hundreds of team members, partners, investors, friends, and family that have given us so much support and encouragement as we’ve made this huge step as a space company!”

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