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Quantum leaps in space.

NASA attends COP28. ESA says Ariane 6 will launch in summer 2024. The US House Science Committee passes the Commercial Space Space Act of 2023. And more.




NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelson to attend the 28th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates. The European Space Agency says Ariane 6 will launch in late June or early July, 2024. The US House Science, Space and Technology Committee passes the Commercial Space Space Act of 2023 or HR 6131, sending the bill to the House floor for a vote, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest is Richard Mansell, Chief Executive Officer at IVO Limited

You can connect with Richard on LinkedIn and learn more about IVO on their website.

Selected Reading

NASA to Showcase Earth Science Data at COP28

4 Astronauts Will Be Trained For US-India Mission: ISRO

Ariane 6 joint update report, 30 November 2023

Science Committee Passes Bills to Secure Quantum & Commercial Space Leadership - Press Releases

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Pauses Science Due to Gyro Issue

Lockheed Martin Technology Demonstration to Showcase Faster On-Orbit Sensor Calibration

Ursa Major Raises $138 Million To Introduce Solid Rocket Motor Line And Scale Rocket Propulsion For Space And Hypersonic Applications

Work With Us - Open Solicitations - Commercial

First 360-degree cameras in space capture incredible images of Earth

Relativity Space CEO: Building a backlog isn’t ‘worthless,’ it’s the path to product-market fit

United States Space Force Prepares X-37B for Launch- United States Space Force 

NASA Remembers Trailblazing Astronaut, Scientist Mary Cleave 

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>> Maria Varmazis: If you work in space or are interested in space, and you know you're listening to this podcast after all, then I'm sure you've come across some opposition from friends and family that say things like, oh, I don't know, "We shouldn't be concerned with space when our planet has enough issues." Things like that. And while, yes, we agree with a lot of the spirit of that sentiment, can we just acknowledge that what we do know about problems on our planet like climate change has often come from data collected from satellites? You know, the ones in space. So it only makes sense that space companies and agencies are getting involved in climate change conferences. Right? Right.

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>> Maria Varmazis: Today is November 30, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis. And this is "T-Minus."

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>> Maria Varmazis: NASA attends COP 28. ESA says Ariane 6 will launch in the summer of 2024. The U.S House Science, Space, and Technology Committee sends the Commercial Space Space Act, yes that is its name, of 2023 to the floor. And our guest today is Richard Mansell, chief executive officer at IVO Limited on their quantum drive waiting to be tested in orbit. It is super cool technology. So stay with us to learn more about it in our chat.

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>> Maria Varmazis: Let's take a look at our intel briefing for today. The 28th UN climate change conference of the parties or COP 28 as it is more commonly known officially kicks off today in Dubai. And many major U.S administrative offices including NASA of course will be there to talk about what the U.S is doing to mitigate climate change. We should start hearing more about NASA's presentations to the conference as panels and talks begin in earnest on Saturday. In the meantime taking a look at the newly posted agenda it's no surprise when it comes to NASA and climate change the Earth science data is taking center stage. The agency is on a mission to let people know that NASA has lots of data freely available to everybody that can help build better predictive models and make more informed decisions about our world. So while the conference is open from 1:30 to 2 PM at COP 28 basically every day, there will be presentations at the NASA hyper wall. And there will be talks about how Earth science data from NASA reveals insights on urbanization and transportation, biodiversity, agriculture, the works. We'll be very keen to see how it's all received. So if you happen to be at the conference, send us some pictures. Maybe put a pin in your schedule for that 1:30 to 2 o'clock time slot and make sure to swing by and see what NASA's up to. An update now on a story that we've mentioned a few times this week. NASA training for Indian astronauts. NASA administrator Bill Nelson has concluded his tour in the country and the India Space Research Organization or ISRO says that four astronauts will be trained overseas for a joint U.S India mission. Of the four astronauts, two of them will be trained at NASA with only one Indian astronaut heading to the ISS and another trained as his backup. We should note that we don't know yet where the other two Indian astronauts will receive training, whether it will be within India through another national agency or with a private space company. Big news from Europe in a little under nine months from now. No. It's not a baby, but they are expecting a rocket. It's an Ariane 6. The European Space Agency has provided an update on their progress and say that ESA, CNES, and Ariane Group are targeting the first launch of Ariane 6 between mid June and the end of July 2024. Ariane 6 is succeeding the Ariane 5 rocket that ESA has been using as a heavy launch system. The vehicle has been plagued by anomalies and delays, but ESA says it is now back on track with its testing and expects an upper stage hot fire and a combined test loading before the end of the year. The U.S House Science, Space, and Technology Committee passed the Commercial Space Space Act of 2023 or HR 6141 along a party line vote of 21 to 17. The bill updates the government oversight of commercial space activities to promote, streamline, and strengthen the commercial space sector and enable the continuation of U.S leadership in space. The lead democrat of the committee, Zoe Lofgren, expressed a desire to work with republican chairman Frank Lucas to have the bill modified in a manner as to ensure bipartisan support for when it gets to the house floor for a vote. And that vote could come at any time in the coming weeks before the holiday recess or drift into the second season of the 118th Congress next calendar year. We shall see. Now usually when I'm talking to people about a gyro issue it's actually a yeero issue. You know, the Greek cousin of donor kebab, the pita wrap. A lot of people mispronounce. But no. Today it's actually properly a gyro issue as in the gyro on the Hubble Telescope. Though could you imagine a yeero on the Hubble? That would be hilarious. Anyway the telescope is in safe mode and has paused all science operations. The yeero -- I mean the gyro on the telescope that measure the turn rates and are part of the system that determine which direction the telescope points in were giving faulty readings. NASA says the team is running tests to characterize the issue and develop the solutions. Opa. Firefly Aerospace is preparing for a December launch to carry a technical demonstration from Lockheed Martin. The electronically steerable antenna payload is in growing demand for broadband communications applications such as in flight satellite connectivity. Lockheed Martin expects to calibrate this new ESA censor in a fraction of the time that it takes to operationalize traditional on orbit sensors which historically can take months to be powered on fully calibrated and ready to perform their mission. The payload nicknamed Tantrum was developed in Lockheed Martin Space's Ignite organization and is integrated on a terrain orbital satellite bus for the Firefly launch. Rocket motor manufacturing company Ursa Major has raised $138 million in its series D and D1 funding rounds. The Colorado based company is developing a new solid rocket motor program while scaling production capacity and advancing multiple propulsion programs. While the initial series D round was completed earlier in the year, Ursa Major extended fundraising to include a series D1 round due to strong interest in accelerating development on several future programs. The U.S defense innovation united has released a solicitation calling for hybrid space architecture or HSA. This is the second open call for proposals. Four areas of interest are addressed in this second HSA solicitation. Persistent sensing. Data transport. High performance. Edge compute in situ. And data fusion. These cases span the full range of commercial, civil, national security, and allied communications. This includes military operations in support of war fighters at the tactical edge and across all domains be it land, sea, or air transmitting or receiving time sensitive situational awareness and decision making information to yield effects across the strategic, operational, and tactical levels through multiple communication layers and battle management, command, control, and communications architectures. More details can be found by following the link in our show notes. And you know how much we love to talk about images on this audio only podcast. I swear Alice does it just to make my life a little more difficult. Thanks, Alice. But this is cool, and honestly it's worth mentioning. The first 360 degree images of Earth captured by Chinese tech company Insta 360 have been released. And if you have a little time on your hands in the coming days, then I would heartily suggest getting lost in the incredible photos by following the link in our show notes. And that concludes our briefing today. You'll find links to further information in the selected reading section of our show notes. We've included a few extra stories including a Tech Crunch piece on a tit for tat between Relativity Space and Rocket Lab and an update on the X 37B launch which is now planned for December 10. Hey, T-Minus crew. If your business is looking to grow your voice in the industry, expand the reach of your thought leadership,or recruit talent, "T-Minus" can help. We'd like to hear from you. Just send us an email at space@n2k.com or send us a note through our website so we can connect about building a program to meet your goals.

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>> Maria Varmazis: Our guest today is Richard Mansell, chief executive officer at IVO Limited. And the company has just launched a test of a quantum drive into space. Yes. Yes. It's super cool quantum tech. So for more detail on what the quantum drive is and what IVO hope to learn I asked Richard to walk me through what they're hoping to test.

>> Richard Mansell: Yeah. So we really are going down to a microscopic scale for what's actually happening. But to step back, of course, the main limiting factor for getting things through space right now is fuel. Fuel consumption is the main issue. And so the question is can we ever provide a drive that is not a perpetual motion machine. Still takes energy to input, but no fuel. And that's what we've been developing is a purely electric thruster that uses electricity, uses energy, to set up the conditions that takes advantage of things going on on the quantum scale specifically based off of Dr. McCullouch's theory of quantized inertia.

>> Maria Varmazis: My brain just goes, okay [exploding sound]. So I mean quantum anything is pretty advanced stuff. I know many of our listeners may understand it a lot better than I do. I don't doubt it. It' sounds absolutely incredible to me. Can you tell me a little bit about -- I know this is very much in development right now and I'm being sensitive to that. I'd love to know like sort of how we arrived at this point. Like you're at the point where you're actually getting to testing. It must have been a sort of fascinating origin story to get there because I mean this technology is very cutting edge. So I'd love to know a little bit about like how we got to the point we're at now.

>> Richard Mansell: Yeah. It really came down to why do objects at rest tend to stay at rest. And why do objects in motion tend to stay in motion? So the aspects of inertia most famously known through Newton's three laws of motion. The rocket equation is based on rule number three. Right? For every action there's an opposite and equal reaction. However what we've taken advantage of is more rule number one. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. And the question is why does an object want to stay at rest. Or once it's at a certain velocity, which at rest could be considered as zero velocity, so really the question comes down to an object at a certain velocity. Why does it not want to change? Once we started thinking about what actually is inertia, inertia is a quality, an aspect of mass that we use on a regular basis. We consider on a regular basis. But why that is the case is something that we still have a ways to go. And so quantized inertia gives an idea as to why something feels a push against itself when you try to accelerate it in a direction. And with that theory, having explored that theory, it seems very reasonable that if you could change the inertia that an object felt when you tried to accelerate it, then you could accelerate it faster than would be expected under current formulas that are considered normal. Without breaking the laws of Newton's laws of motion because now you're just making an object want to fall forward faster.

>> Maria Varmazis: Right. Huh. Okay. Because I remember hearing that some people are going, oh, this breaks the laws of physics. And I'm going that's quite a claim.

>> Richard Mansell: Right. Well, you can't break physics. Physics just is. Right? And so laws of physics are people's understanding and usually in a mathematical form of what is. And what we found with like Newtonian gravity is that Newtonian gravity the formulas were good. But as we learned more about the universe, we realized that they were incomplete. And then that's where Einstein's relativity came in and that helped expand upon that. And what we're finding is that things like rotation of the outer edges of the galaxies are not matching our models. And so it's like, well, what -- what's causing that? Because there's something we don't see like dark matter or is it because our current models or laws or mathematical formulas of what is is incomplete? And we're going on the incomplete part. And so we're taking advantage of this theory that then would say that, okay, you could change the inertia of an object. And, if so, then you can make it continuously accelerate or fall forward in the direction that you want it to. And so our quantum drive then has our own special configuration to allow it to accelerate an object that it's attached to like a satellite in a certain direction.

>> Maria Varmazis: So I mean this is super cool and it's not just on paper. There is an actual test for this. Can you bring me up to speed on sort of where we are right now?

>> Richard Mansell: Yeah. So Dr. McCullouch I believe first proposed his theory back in 2007, 2006, 2007. And since then a number of laboratories and institutions around the world have done experiments to see if it would actually produce thrust, if it could be validated. And we were one of the groups that jumped in on that because we saw the potential. Like, you know, maybe this is really a crazy idea. Maybe it doesn't work. But if it does work, what a game changer it would be. And IVO Limited is all about pushing the edge. We're always about trying the best. Not just making current technology more efficient, but what are we missing that could be the next step in technology? So this was right up our alley. And we jumped on doing some experiments, some initial ones. And then the company's like let's continue doing this. And so we moved up to vacuum chambers and had a number of third parties both government, educational institutions, as well as corporate third parties look at our setups, our test setups. Try to find mistakes. Trying to find weaknesses where we might be seeing thrust based on other factors because we felt that we want to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible. That's the best way to be a steward of our company money is just prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible. The problem is it kept passing tests, especially as we continued to refine the test done in a vacuum chamber. And so we went ahead and it was like, you know what, we have to go to space. To really mitigate all other causes or possibilities, it has to be done in space. And so why not make a product, an actual drive, that could be both the basis for an experiment in a very practical way, but also if it works we could go directly to market and start using it? And so that's how we've come to now having two drives in space at the sat show in Washington, D.C. Almost two years ago we met a number of great companies there. One of them, though, was Rogue Space Systems. And they agreed to allow us to have payload space on their satellite going up, Barry 1. And so we greatly enjoyed working with them. And so we were able to hitch a ride to space on their satellite, and that's what launched on Transporter nine. And right now they're working on [inaudible] so just initial baseline work. A number of factors. One. Just getting the satellite up and running. Two. Letting the materials [inaudible] gas as means so it doesn't change thrust measurements. And getting a baseline of the orbital lines right now. And so that way when we do start our tests we can be very definitive in saying, "All right. This experiment worked." Well, either way. If we get -- if we get results, the experiments will have worked. But will it show thrust or not? That's what we're really excited about. Everything on our terrestrial based tests indicate that we should see something.

>> Maria Varmazis: Can you talk a little bit about what kind of tests you expect to be running? Is that something you can discuss?

>> Richard Mansell: Yes. The main one, I think the one that everyone's really looking forward to, is changing the orbital altitude. So we would like to raise the orbit by 100 kilometers. And pretty ambitious, but it would be very definitive. We could -- we're gathering data. We will be gathering data from accelerometers and such on board the spacecraft, but if you can change the orbit, especially by that much, then ground stations can likewise see that. And you can't fake that.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah. No. 100 kilometers is a decent amount. Yes.

>> Richard Mansell: Right. I mean we want the results to be, you know -- to be known. And if it proves out to work, it will be an experiment proving the likelihood that quantized inertia is a theory to really reckon with as well as we now have a product to push things through space. And so that change of orbital altitude will be the main one, but there's others after that adding interest to the orbit. Changing the inclination of the orbit would be an important one to do just because it takes a lot of delta V to change the inclination of an orbit and we would like to produce so much thrust, you know change in the orbit, enough that if you look at a 3 -- you know, a 3 U satellite, cube sat, and say well how much could someone sneak on board, how much propellant could they sneak on board to fake this, right, and be able to showcase more delta V than that would be physically possible I think would be just be the final demonstration that this is legit. This really happened.

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>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back. Welcome back. And we've reached a time in our life where more and more of the trailblazers that have come before us are sadly no longer with us. And while we mourn their departure, we also celebrate their incredible achievements. And today we pay tribute to NASA astronaut and scientist Mary Cleave. Mary was a veteran of two NASA space flights and she died earlier this week at the age of 76. A scientist with training in civil and environmental engineering as well as biological sciences and microbial ecology, Mary was the first woman to serve as an associate administrator for NASA's science mission directorate. NASA associate administrator Bob Cabana described Mary as a force of nature with a passion for science, exploration, and caring for our home planet. She launched on her first mission, STS 61B, aboard space shuttle Atlantis 38 years ago this week on November 26, 1985. And her second mission, STS 30, was also on Atlantis which launched on a Star Wars day, May the 4th, 1989. Cleave received many awards including two NASA exceptional service medals, an American Astronautical Society flight achievement award, a NASA exceptional achievement medal, and NASA engineer of the year. She retired from the U.S Space Agency in February 2007. May she find rest among the stars.

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>> Maria Varmazis: That's it for "T-Minus" for November 30, 2023. For additional resources from today's report check out our show notes at space.n2k.com. We're privileged that N2K and podcasts like "T-Minus" are part of the daily routine of many of the most influential leaders and operators in the public and private sector from the Fortune 500 to many of the world's preeminent intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This episode was produced by Alice Caruth. Mixing by Elliott Peltzman and Tre Hester with original music and sound design by Elliott Peltzman. Our new executive producer is Jen Eiben. Welcome aboard, Jen. And our veep is Brandon Karpf. And I'm Maria Varmazis. Thanks for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.

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