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  • Weekly Takeaways:World Quantum Day Edition

    Theme of the Week Happy World Quantum Day! The goal of World Quantum Day is to promote "public understanding of Quantum Science and Technology around the World." Why today? Because 4/14 is a reference to the first digits of Planck’s constant (4.14 ×10−15 electronvolt seconds), a fundamental constant governing quantum physics. Kind of like 3/14 is "Pi Day" and 5/4 is "Star Wars Day" (May the Fourth be with You). From Theory to Reality A century ago the fundamentals of quantum mechanics was the subject of heated debate. Quantum physics is hard, partly because it is difficult to observe quantum processes. So quantum experimentalists took on the challenge of proving these early theories by building specialized hardware that has since migrated out of the lab. This led to the First Quantum Revolution in the mid-20th century, which saw the introduction of lasers, transistors, and atomic clocks. We are now in the Second Quantum Revolution, enabled by hardware that can detect and manipulate single quantum objects. This has opened the door to advancements in quantum computing, sensing, and communications, that may impact the future just as profoundly as the laser and transistor. There has been a lot of progress in the last century. Industry News A recap on major quantum news over the last year: Reports that talk about the impact of quantum development “Quantum Technologies” Capgemini report found that a nearly a quarter of surveyed US organizations are working on quantum technologies, though, like in a lot of areas quantum, China is the leader with 43% of their companies active with quantum technologies. "The Quantum Decade" IBM report as a "playbook for achieving awareness, readiness, and advantage" in quantum computing. "A Guide to a Quantum-Safe Organization" QED-C report to help organizations prepare for a post-quantum world. Reports and articles on China's lead in quantum development: “State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2022” National Science Board report highlighted that R&D funding in the United States, while still highest in the world, was ceding ground to China. “Chinese Threats in the Quantum Era” Booz Allen Hamilton report claims that China has "multibillion dollar investments to enable breakthroughs in the field—and an $11 billion National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences." “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” DoD report noted that China’s 14th Five-Year Plan includes plans to install satellite-enabled, global “quantum-encrypted communications capability” by 2030. Other reports out of China: Their leading quantum research group and QuantumCTek (fresh off a record IPO) have been added to a US trade blacklist for "acquiring and attempting to acquire U.S.-origin items in support of military applications". Developed what it calls a Satellite Quantum System in a bid to combat any adversary intrusion into its power infrastructure. Article claims that they have “achieved a series of breakthroughs in quantum technology including the world's first quantum satellite, a 2,000-km quantum communication line between Beijing and Shanghai, and the world's first optical quantum computing machine prototype.” Articles about other governments stepping up their quantum research: The United States has a number of quantum projects in development, including the Chicago Quantum Exchange. To fund future quantum initiatives, the US is combining elements of the $250B U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 with the America Competes Act of 2022 into one bill. Europe is developing "value chains in critical sectors for space such as quantum", and a broadband constellation that will “leverage quantum encryption to secure the network.” Russia is setting up a National Quantum Laboratory as a "key step to the development of all domestic industry of quantum technologies." Korea is developing “quantum cryptography communication networks in both the public and private sectors”, bringing together 26 companies including SK telecom, KT, and LG. Articles and reports about private quantum investment: "The Quantum Insider Annual Report" tracked $3.2B of quantum investment in 2021, as well as their Top Ten Quantum Technology Predictions for 2022. “Quantum Tech 2022: A Stampede Of Unicorns Is Headed For Your Industry,” Forbes claims that “Technologies based on the fundamental properties of quantum mechanics will revolutionize industries, changing business models forever.” “Quantum Security Report” by The Quantum Insider forecasts a Quantum Security Market worth $10B by 2030. Conferences Lots of quantum-focused conferences coming up soon. Here's a small sample: IQT San Diego, May 10-12, 2022, San Diego Photonics for Quantum, June 6 - 9, Rochester, NY Quantum.Tech Boston, June 14-15, Boston, MA Quantum 2.0 Conference and Exhibition, June 13 - 16, Boston, MA Quantum Information Science International Workshop, July 12-14, 2022, New York Optics + Photonics, August 21 - 25, San Diego, CA IEEE Quantum Week 2022, September 18 - 23, Broomfield, CO The More You Know... To learn more about quantum mechanics, we recommend these resources: The Theoretical Minimum by Leonard Susskind, lecture series and book Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Quantum Physics is Different presentation and Beyond Weird book by Philip Ball Quantum Computing Since Democritus lecture notes by Scott Aaronson Free e-books: "Quantum Communications: A Primer", prepared by Xairos "Q is for Quantum" by Terry Rudolph "Understanding Quantum Technologies" by Olivier Ezratty For further educational material hosted by quantum enthusiasts check out: Quantum Curious for a range of online resources Quantumapalooza for links to online learning opportunities, hosted by Harrisburg University 2021 Quantum Investment Summit panel discussions, hosted by the Quantum Startup Foundry Different Approaches to Getting Started on your Quantum Journey webinar hosted by Quantum.Tech. Chicago Quantum Summit webinar on quantum technology For news about the dynamic world of quantum companies and technology check out: Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) is a quantum advocacy group that hosts Quantum Marketplace events, reports, and job postings. The Quantum Insider, hosts conferences, releases reports and provides industry connections. QURECA hosts webinars and provides industry news and connections. Inside Quantum Technology hosts conferences and has a good daily newsletter Quantum Computing Report hosts quantum market and investment analysis, with a weekly newsletter you can sign up for here

  • Weekly Takeaways:April 12, 2022

    Theme of the Week Dual Use, Not Equal Use Recently Russia has been jamming GPS in Ukraine, the Black Sea, Finland, Norway, and Turkey. While this has grounded commercial flights and degraded networks, it is not creating problems for the military. GPS is a textbook example of a dual use technology used for both military and civilian applications. But that doesn’t mean they have equal capabilities. GPS was originally developed for military use only. It was only made available for civilian use after the KAL 007 tragedy, but with a built-in degradation. When that was lifted in 2000, it created 764 new companies and trillions of dollars of economic benefit for one of “the largest venture outcomes in history." But there are still restrictions on civilian use that throttle commercial progress. For example, timing from GPS enabled 4G LTE wireless networks, but is not good enough for 5G. It is time to split off a dedicated commercial solution from dual use. Last Week's Theme: A Single Point of Failure Following up from good set of meetings at Satellite 2022 in Washington DC and Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Check out Xairos: Spaced Ventures presentation Apogeo Spatial article “Global Timing with Quantum Technologies in Space” Startups Stars podcast interview on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube Angels & Entrepreneurs feature: “Using quantum physics, it’s [Xairos] addressing a problem that impacts some seriously big markets" with "the potential to revolutionize society.” Industry News As part of the next moon race, the European Space Agency (ESA) kicked off their Moonlight Initiative to “identify the best way to create a lasting link with the Moon” and look at “feasible system concepts for creating the lunar network” using optical communications. Meanwhile China is moving forward with three more lunar exploration missions before 2030. A new “Quantum Technologies” report found that a nearly a quarter of surveyed US organizations are working on quantum technologies, though, like in a lot of areas quantum, China is the leader with 43% of their companies active with quantum technologies. China is also the leader in quantum research, having invested $13B since 2015 (the United States is in distant second with $2.1B of investment) and in quantum networks, where China has rolled out a network extending across the country. The European Patent Office (EPO)’s recent Quantum Technologies and Space report “finds that patent applications filed in space-related quantum technologies have increased some 400% over the last 5 years” led by China and the United States. Meanwhile Samsung is adding quantum random number generation (QRNGs) to enhance the security of their new flagship cell phones. In the wake of support from private space companies in Ukraine, the U.S. Space Command has released a commercial integration strategy to make it easier to work with commercial space companies. According to SPACECOM Commander Gen. James Dickinson the goal is to “make it easier, more efficient, more feasible for a commercial company to enter into an agreement.” The extent of the Australia - UK - US partnership known as AUKUS was outlined in a White House Fact Sheet, and includes quantum collaborations to “accelerate investments to deliver generation-after-next quantum capabilities. It will have an initial focus on quantum technologies for positioning, navigation, and timing.” Did you ever want to play with quantum optics? Then check out the Quantum Game. Conferences Colorado Photonics Industry Association Expo and Gala, April 14, Broomfield, CO Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 9 - 12, Denver, CO IQT San Diego, May 10-12, 2022, San Diego Photonics for Quantum, June 6 - 9, Rochester, NY Quantum.Tech Boston, June 14-15, Boston, MA Quantum 2.0 Conference and Exhibition, June 13 - 16, Boston, MA Connectivity Business Summit, June 14-15, New York, NY Quantum Information Science International Workshop, July 12-14, 2022, New York Optics + Photonics, August 21 - 25, San Diego, CA ION GNSS+ 2022, September 19 - 23, Denver, CO IEEE Quantum Week 2022, September 18 - 23, Broomfield, CO Denver Startup Week, September 19-23, Denver, CO International Timing and Sync Forum, November 7 -10, Dusseldorf, UK US National PNT Advisory Board, December 9 - 10, Washington DC The More You Know... Not a surprise for this audience that Russia and China have the capability to knock out GPS satellites. But a recent NBC report is bringing this news to the general public. There also now suspicions that Russia has been disrupting commercial satellite and Starlink satellite internet service in Ukraine and Europe. The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued an alert over potential threats to satellite networks and a recommendation for better satellite cybersecurity, expressing concern about “evolving attacks by criminals, terrorists, and nation states.” This also includes the capability to hack an operational on-orbit satellite. A Telesat GEO satellite was recently hacked as part of an assisted demonstration during a recent hacker convention. Concerns about satellite security has inspired the US government to host hacking contests and led to additional funding in the recent defense budget.

  • Weekly-takeaways-March 29

    A Single Point of Failure Imagine a scenario where a single point of failure can bring down our modern society. It starts with grounded airlines, and ATMs and credit cards not working. By the end of the day all communications are lost, and within a few days the power is out. This is the world after a GPS outage, the sword of Damocles that hangs above us all. The impact is billions of dollars a day as the world grinds to a halt. This almost happened on January 26, 2016 with a simple operator error. But these close calls happen all the time; GPS is hit with thousands of outages a year and prone to jamming and interference. More scary is that it is a big fat juicy target for bad actors that have shown that GPS is vulnerable to anti-satellite missiles, "kamikaze" and "kidnapper" satellites, blinding, jamming and spoofing. The only way to take the target off of GPS is to build an alternative. Last Week's Theme: A Call for Backup Industry News A quick recap of news from the past few months: GPS jamming by Russia has been reported in Ukraine and even Finland, but at least they have not acted on their threat to blow up the GPS satellites using their 'Star Warrior' anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles. China also has an ASAT missile, as well as the capability to ‘melt down’ satellites by covertly placing explosives on a satellite and the recent launch of a potential "satellite crushing weapon." They also have the capability to blind GPS satellites with ground-based anti-satellite lasers. “We’re really at a point now where there’s a whole host of ways that our space systems can be threatened,” admits US Space Force General David Thompson, and that our satellites are attacked "every day." Space debris is also a concern as it is estimated that "19% of tracked space objects threaten GPS." A review highlights GPS-related problems experienced by commercial aircraft, UAVs, cargo ships, drones, among many other incidents. GPS is also susceptible to spoofing, or the the ability to fake a GPS signal. Spoofing was suspected as the cause of downed US drone in Iran, used by drug traffickers on border drones, multiple strange incidents near Russian VIPs, a drone that wandered into Iranian airspace, and "circle spoofing" in China and Iran. The rest of the world has developed GPS replacement systems that make GPS more of a target, including China's BeiDou, Russia's GLONASS, Europe's Galileo, and UK's OneWeb. And even the local timing infrastructure is also vulnerable, as demonstrated by an IBM hacker. Conferences Space Symposium, April 4 - 7, Colorado Springs, CO Pacific PNT, April 11 - 13, virtual Colorado Photonics Industry Association Expo and Gala, April 14, Broomfield, CO Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 9 - 12, Denver, CO IQT San Diego, May 10-12, 2022, San Diego Photonics for Quantum, June 6 - 9, Rochester, NY Quantum.Tech Boston, June 14-15, Boston, MA Quantum 2.0 Conference and Exhibition, June 13 - 16, Boston, MA Connectivity Business Summit, June 14-15, New York, NY Quantum Information Science International Workshop, July 12-14, 2022, New York Optics + Photonics, August 21 - 25, San Diego, CA ION GNSS+ 2022, September 19 - 23, Denver, CO IEEE Quantum Week 2022, September 18 - 23, Broomfield, CO Denver Startup Week, September 19-23, Denver, CO International Timing and Sync Forum, November 7 - 10, Dusseldorf, UK US National PNT Advisory Board, December 9 - 10, Washington DC The More You Know... Have you ever wanted to impress your friends and family with your quantum expertise? First step is to brush up on your quantum mechanics. Some recommendations: Here’s How You Can Teach Yourself Quantum Physics, by Sunny Labh Beyond Weird, by Philip Ball What is Quantum Entanglement? All about this 'spooky' quirk of physics, by John Loeffler Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum, by Leonard Susskind The harnessing of quantum properties has led us to a second quantum revolution in three areas: quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum sensing. While quantum computing gets all the press (and investment), quantum communications and sensing have better maturity and near term potential. Some good resources to learn about this are: Quantum Tech Made Simple, by Frey Wilson, PhD Shaping the Long Race in Quantum Communication and Quantum Sensing, McKinsey & Company Explainer: What is Quantum Communication?, MIT Technology Review Quantum Communications: A Primer

  • Weekly Takeaways-March 15, 2022

    Theme of the Week A Call for Backup Since the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the Cold War extended into the skies. Today, space is no longer under government control, as Russia is finding out. Russia undoubtedly expected on knocking out the world’s access to Ukraine. Instead, new space stepped up to provide critical communications and surveillance. A government leader has to be cautious to avoid escalation. But private companies don’t have that burden; Russia can’t invade SpaceX. The best they can do is threaten to ground western satellites, a move destined to backfire. Unfortunately, there is no commercial backup for GPS - yet - and Russia knows this. Russia has been jamming GPS for decades, so no surprise that is jamming in Ukraine. But now there are reports of similar interference in Finland that grounded Finnair flights. It is no coincidence that this occurred after Finland’s president met with POTUS. All of this illustrates that America needs a commercial GPS backup. Because, as Forbes points out: "Hoping that GPS will not be targeted is not a plan.” Last Week's Theme: Space will Not be Held Hostage Industry News As GPS jamming is rampant near the Russia border, military vehicles are trying out “leading-edge quantum equipment” including the “world's first atomic clock of its kind to help ensure pinpoint accuracy”. The US military is now preparing to defend the moon. No, seriously. As China and others plan for lunar bases, the US Space Force is planning “to develop a lunar surveillance system, known as the Cislunar Highway Patrol System” and “test a lunar spy satellite known as the Defense Deep Space Sentinel.” And when you are sitting on the moon you will need cell service. Nokia is on the case. Japanese researchers are proposing a terrestrial location-based services using cell networks that can be used “to serve in tsunami forecasting and earthquake early warning systems.” This could someday be supplemented by very sensitive quantum gravity sensors. The Space Entanglement and Annealing QUantum Experiment (SEAQUE) is set to launch to the ISS later this year to test a new type of entangled photon source based on integrated optics and the characterization of radiation effects on single photon detectors. This projects joins a number of other space-based quantum projects that are currently in development. SpaceX’s service into Ukraine has impressed the US Space Command, and spurred the EU, India and other groups to recognize the need for space-based communications. The US is still looking to strengthen technology competition against China by combining elements of the $250B U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, passed by the US Senate, and the America Competes Act of 2022, passed by the US House, into one bill. The More You Know... On Sunday morning you may have noticed that some of your clocks are off by an hour. Daylight Savings Time strikes again! Today it is a petty annoyance, but it wasn't long ago when all clocks needed to be manually set. Now we take it for granted that our phones, computers, and connected electronics sync automatically. But sync to what? To the GPS master clock, with a software correction to match your local time zone referenced to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the international time standard. Surprisingly, GPS time differs from UTC by exactly 18 seconds. Leap seconds are periodically added to UTC to account for changes in the Earth's rotation. But GPS has not added in the 18 leap seconds since 1980 to ensure there are no timing jumps that would disrupt sensitive digital networks. All of this is described in an entertaining presentation by Dr. Patrizia Tavella, the Director of the Time Department at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures in Sèvres, France. To learn more, please email us.

  • Xairos Takeaways-March 10, 2022

    Theme of the Week Space will Not be Held Hostage The new space promise isn’t just about building companies or new innovations. It is about creating open access to space. This has been highlighted over the past two terrible weeks. As the Ukraine conflict escalated, Russia has threatened to: Blow up the GPS satellites; Recall their astronauts from the ISS and let it de-orbit; Refused to launch the OneWeb satellites; And halt the delivery of launches and rocket engines. But these threats don’t work any more. Commercial companies that didn't exist during the original cold war now hold the keys to space: There are already plans to shelve the ISS and replace with new space stations. SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others build their own rocket engines and can launch your satellite. Maxar, BlackSky, and Planet are providing imagery of the conflict in Ukraine. Starlink and Viasat are providing communications even in the face of hostility. They are stepping up to provide critical access for Ukraine and the world. And while GPS is still vulnerable there are commercial alternatives in work by Xairos and others. Now, more than ever, space cannot be held hostage. Last Week's Theme: Time is Money Achievements The world has changed a lot since our last newsletter. Lots to report but we will pick up on our news and marketing next week. In the meantime, let us know if you are attending Satellite 2022 in DC or Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

  • Weekly Takeaways-February 22, 2022

    Theme of the Week Time is Money Despite its name, timing from GPS represents the majority of its $1.4T in economic benefit. It has been estimated that a sustained GPS outage would knock out banking, communications and power, impact 13 of the 16 critical infrastructure, and cost the US economy $1B per day. Even beyond that, better timing provides direct benefits for: Data centers that want to improve efficiency to reduce power consumption Telcos that want to increase bandwidth and users Financial networks that want to reduce latency for high-frequency trading Exchanges that require verifiable timestamps to eliminate fraud Future 6G networks and the Quantum Internet that need sub-nanosecond timing But timing from GPS has stagnated and will not improve. Something better is needed. Last Week's Theme: Ditch the Dial-Up Industry News SpaceX lost 38 satellites due to an increase in atmospheric density caused by a solar storm. There is further concern that geomagnetic storms will destroy more satellites as solar activity has increased lately with more giant flares expected. Some good articles explaining quantum entanglement and quantum encryption. The University of Colorado has expanded the CUbit Quantum Initiative to build “Colorado’s prominence in quantum information science and technology.” Space is getting crowded. SpaceX is launching 30,000 satellites, E-Space recently announced plans to launch 100,000 satellites, and even the EU is planning their own constellation (with a "secure quantum communication infrastructure"). So various agencies and private companies are working on debris removal strategies, and the US and China are even cooperating to avoid space collisions. The More You Know... With Russia’s recent activities in the Ukraine there is speculation that they will rely on LORAN for navigation instead of GPS or their own GLONASS, a terrestrial navigation system dating back to World War II. Even though it is a relic compared to these space-based systems, it has been “maintained to protect their homeland with navigation and timing services when signals from space are not available.” Especially since Russia has shown how easy it is to jam and spoof GPS.

  • Weekly Takeaways-February 15, 2022

    Theme of the Week Ditch the Dial-Up You may recall the distinctive sound of the dial-up modem from the early days of the internet. The modem allowed people to use their existing telephone landline to access the web. But it didn’t work well because the telephone infrastructure was not designed for it. It was only a bridge until a broadband network could be built. The same thing with GPS. GPS was not intended or designed to be a timing resource for the world, yet that is what has happened. Developed by the Department of Defense in the 1970's, it took a pair of Executive Orders to make it available for civilian use. Because GPS delivers both position and timing, newly built networks started capitalizing on this timing signal. Like the dial-up modem, they took advantage of the existing technology. It is now time to upgrade and build a timing network optimized for modern networks. Last Week's Theme: Time for the Quantum Internet Industry News The US Chief of Naval Operations released a Navigation Plan that asserts that “...the Navy must establish itself as a key player in the U.S. quantum technology community. To do so, the Navy should host operational testing on board its platforms in two critical areas: quantum cryptography and quantum sensing.” China was the target of concern as the recognized leader in quantum technology. “[The United States] was ahead for so long, and in so many areas, that it hasn’t really had to do much thinking about what it means to be behind,” said physicist Mitch Ambrose. Speaking of China, their SJ-21 'space cleaner' satellite was observed grabbing and throwing away an old satellite by ExoAnalytic Solutions as shown in this informative video. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the $350B America Competes Act, a bill designed to “curb the country's reliance on foreign powers like China," and includes $7B for investments in “10 regional tech hubs outside of the nation's five leading technology centers.” It is the companion to the $110B United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (USICA), formerly known as the Endless Frontier Act, which is stalled in Congress. The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) just released their “Critical and Emerging Technologies List” of “particular importance to the national security of the United States”, including Communication and Networking Technologies, Networked Sensors and Sensing, Quantum Information Technologies, and Space Technologies and Systems. BryceTech just released their annual Smallsats by the Numbers report. By their calculation, 1,743 small satellites (defined as less than 600 kg) were launched in 2021, compared with 1202 in 2020. The majority belonged to Starlink and OneWeb, but there were 470 other smallsats launched. But those numbers are going to increase! Space industry veteran Greg Wyler announced the largest space seed investment ever for his new venture, E-Space, with plans to launch 100,000 small satellites to create a “multi-application cloud server in space” and “the most sustainable satellite network in history.” The More You Know... D-Wave became the latest quantum startup to go public in a $1.6B SPAC deal, joining fellow quantum computing startups IonQ ($2B IPO) and Rigetti Computing ($1.5B SPAC). There have already been a few exits by quantum communication startups, including: Arqit ($1.2B SPAC) QuantumCTek (largest IPO in Chinese history) IDQ (acquisition by SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom)

  • Weekly Takeaways-February 8, 2022

    Time for the Quantum Internet There is lots of hype and confusion around the Quantum Internet. At the simplest level it is a network of quantum computers. But unlike the regular internet, it can do more than just share information between computers. “The power of quantum computing is in having a large number of qubits… If you can link those “live” qubits, you’ve linked the internals of your quantum computers, and you’ve effectively created a bigger quantum computer.” So it won't act like today's internet. Instead, it will harness the power of interconnected quantum computers. According to Vint Cerf: “Scaling of quantum computers is facilitated by the distribution of entanglement. In theory, you can make a larger quantum system if you can distribute entanglement to a larger number of distinct quantum machines.” And just like the original internet, development is underway through public private partnerships. It will need new tech, standards, and an entanglement distribution network, ideally through satellites. And it “will need incredible time synchronization.” Industry News The Department of Defense (DoD) CTO announced a list of “critical technology areas” that includes quantum science. The European Commission (EC) announced their Space Policy priorities in 2022, including developing “an ultra-secure infrastructure thanks to quantum encryption” and “value chains in critical sectors for space such as quantum." The EC Commissioner also announced they are close to unveiling a plan for a broadband constellation which “will also leverage quantum encryption to secure the network.” The strange saga of the mysterious Shijian-21 continues. It was launched last October to supposedly “test and verify space debris mitigation technologies”, but there were concerns that it could observe and disrupt other satellites. On January 22, it disappeared from its regular position in orbit and was then observed to rendezvous with and move a dead BeiDou satellite. According to Forbes, “Quantum Tech 2022: A Stampede Of Unicorns Is Headed For Your Industry”, “Technologies based on the fundamental properties of quantum mechanics will revolutionize industries, changing business models forever.” New market reports: The Quantum Insider forecasts a Quantum Security Market worth $10B by 2030, and the European Union Agency for the Space Programme predicts a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) market worth 405B Euros by 2031. The More You Know... So it is official: the ISS is ready for the space trash bin. The single most expensive object ever built will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean in 2031. But it has outlasted its purpose as better replacements are being developed. Future astronauts don’t need to apply to NASA; all you need is a ticket from Blue Origin, SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, Axiom Space, among others. This is the democratization of space. What was once the domain of international space agencies is now owned by the private sector. Satellite communications. Rockets. Earth Observation. Space tourism. Lunar exploration. Next up: GPS.

  • Weekly Takeaways-February 1, 2022

    Theme of the Week “I Hate GPS” “The idea that we are all hooked to a satellite…that doesn’t work in certain circumstances, does not work indoors or in valleys in Afghanistan, is ridiculous,” - former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. This quote sums up a Army War College article “Lost on the Next Battlefield: The Need to Replace GPS” GPS has been a concern for over two decades. And more recently there have been calls for something better from the White House, Congress, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and General Accounting Office. But progress has been slow. The author asserts that “the DoD should ask Congress to stop funding GPS," and replace it with a new solution that includes “A Common Timing Protocol” and “quantum-based PNT capabilities.” Industry News Why do we need a Quantum Internet? Work is underway from a range of public private partnerships to develop quantum networks. As a small sample of recent developments: The Chicago Quantum Summit presented initiatives to advance quantum technology for the Chicago Quantum Exchange. The European Space Conference hosted a Workshop on Satellite-based Quantum Key Distribution that included SES, DLR, and the European Space Agency. Russia announced they were setting up a National Quantum Laboratory as a "key step to the development of all domestic industry of quantum technologies." Korea announced that they are developing “quantum cryptography communication networks in both the public and private sectors”, bringing together 26 companies including SK telecom, KT, and LG. Japan announced that they will “revamp its national quantum technology strategy, aiming to become self-sufficient in the area,” while also working with US partners. In addition to commercial GPS jammers that are used by delivery, rental car and long haul vehicle drivers, there is concern about interference from the Ligado satellite that is coming online soon. An Executive Order and strategy to move the U.S. Government toward a “zero trust” approach to cybersecurity was just released. According to the Department of Defense (DOD) Zero Trust Reference Architecture “The foundational tenet of the Zero Trust Model is that no actor, system, network, or service operating outside or within the security perimeter is trusted.” More details from the PitchBook report highlights the record year in investment in 2021: US VC-backed companies collected nearly $330 billion in 2021 - roughly double the previous record of $166.6 billion raised in 2020. Nontraditional investors such as corporate VC funds, hedge funds, PE firms and sovereign wealth funds participated in nearly 77% of total annual deal value. More than $774 billion in exit value created by VC-backed companies. Early-stage VC deal activity in 2021 nearly doubled the prior record and eclipsed $80 billion for the first time ever. The More You Know... Lots of cities want to emulate the success of Silicon Valley. Ever since Hewlett and Packard set up in a garage in 1939, the Valley has been synonymous with innovation. But now it seems like these tech hubs are forming elsewhere as Silicon Valley waits for the next big thing. Deep tech may provide the next breakthrough, but it is "far more difficult than building a new app or disrupting another aging industry." As Jake Taylor noted: "building a quantum computer might be the most difficult task ever undertaken." Like the early startups that formed Silicon Valley, these deep tech companies need funding. And, like the OG of Silicon Valley, this investment is migrating elsewhere.

  • Weekly Takeaways-January 25, 2022

    Theme of the Week The Clock Lock All networks, communications, and power grids require a common time standard. This is the role that GPS fell into - a global clock delivered from space via a weak RF signal. But this signal is woefully insecure and easy to jam and spoof (see below). Information security comes from the CIA triad (no, not that CIA), to protect against outsiders getting access to (confidentiality), modifying (integrity), and disrupting access to your information (availability). The signal from GPS does not meet this security level because it is: Unencrypted (at least for civilian users), breaking Confidentiality Unauthenticated, breaking Integrity Easy to jam, breaking Availability But a future timing service for fixed enterprise users has to be secure - there is too much at stake. A new technology is needed. Industry News Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has joined the growing chorus of experts calling for the US to catch up with China in technology investment, including quantum, through government and private sector cooperation under the $110B United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021. “China has made it a point to invest a tremendous amount in artificial intelligence, in quantum, in robotics, and in cyber, and their whole intent is to try to jump ahead of the United States,” Panetta said. The National Science Board biennial State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2022 report highlighted that R&D funding in the United States, while still highest in the world, was ceding ground to China. The US Government released a National Security Memorandum “on Improving the Cybersecurity of National Security, Department of Defense, and Intelligence Community Systems,” and instructs the National Security Agency to release documents relating to “quantum resistant protocols, and planning for use of quantum resistant cryptography where necessary.” Following on the heels of a Seraphim report that showed record investment in space, the Space Capital Space Investment Quarterly reported: "VCs invested $17.1B into 328 space companies in 2021, accounting for 3% of total global venture capital flows. This beats the previous annual record year of $9.1B, set in 2020." No surprise that the last two years have hastened the migration of workers and startups out of Silicon Valley. According to PitchBook and CNBC, investment in Silicon Valley and Seattle startups dipped below 30 percent for the first time and was 40 percent lower than 2014. The More You Know... The Association of Old Crows hosted an interesting presentation on the history of GPS spoofing. According to the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, jamming is relatively commonplace. While the US does not track this, the European GNSS Agency evaluated nearly 451,000 reported jamming events and found that roughly 10% were intentional. But spoofing, the ability to fake a GPS signal, is more sophisticated. As a concept, it has been around a long time and was even featured in the 1997 James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies." But over the last decade it has become a reality: December 2011 - An American drone was downed in Iran allegedly due to GPS spoofing. June 2013 - UT Austin researchers coerced a ship off course using a spoofing device. December 2015 - the DHS reported that drug traffickers are spoofing border drones. October 2016 - Users and taxis near the Kremlin mysteriously reported that they were at the airport. 2017 - Strange locations were reported in isolated incidents in the Black Sea, Russia, and Africa. Suspiciously, this all seemed to occur wherever Russian VIPS were traveling. June 2018 - Article demonstrated a universal spoofing device that can spoof GPS, Galileo, and Beidu signals all at once with $400 of materials. April 2019 - car at the Geneva Motor Show seemed to magically transport to the UK and the year 2036, according to their navigation displays. June 2019 - Iran shot down a drone that wandered into their airspace for reasons that were unclear, though spoofing was suspected. May 2020 - Reports of the curious case of "circle spoofing" in China and Iran. There were even reports of ships worldwide appearing to be transported to Point Reyes, California.

  • Weekly Takeaways:January 18, 2022

    Read - Write - Wait Imagine you are collaborating with your team on a document. You ping each for inputs. And then you wait. This is, at a basic level, how distributed databases work. The benefits of distributed databases are obvious from the name - it allows distributed resources to act as one computer for better resiliency and efficiency. But the key disadvantage: the processing overhead associated with synchronizing all the sites. This processing overhead is analogous to your team project: more contributors mean more work is done in parallel, at the expense of coordination by the lead. Better synchronization maintains the correct order of the events and improves distributed database efficiency. As NVIDIA and Facebook noted in a blog post, better timing gives outsize performance improvement: “making the timekeeping 80x more precise (making any time discrepancies 80x smaller) made a distributed database run 3x faster — an incredible performance boost on the same server hardware, just from keeping more accurate and more reliable time.” Industry News If you drive a Honda, you may have noticed that your clock is stuck in the past. Honda's navigation system did not rollover in 2022, and instead are showing a date and time in 2002. There are rumors that Google is looking to spin out its quantum division Sandbox. Hey, look, all the charts are up and to the right. Techcrunch released their own metrics that showed that 2021 was "bonkers" year for startup investment, confirming the PitchBook-NVCA report. And 2021 was also "a record year of private capital invested in space, with a 60% increase to US$12.4nm", according to Seraphim. One of Cisco’s predictions for the top technology trends for 2022 is that “Quantum networking could enable a new type of secure connection between digital devices, making them impenetrable to hacks,” which would “lead to better fraud protection for transactions” and “re-shape the internet we know and use today.” Speaking of Quantum Leaps, the cult TV series from the 90’s is coming back. The DHS has designated 16 critical and business infrastructures. But surprisingly, space systems aren’t on the list, even though it impacts almost all of these critical infrastructures and the White House acknowledges that "Space activities are essential to our way of life" as part of the “United States Space Priorities Framework” (USSPF). Now there is legislation to designate space systems, services, and technology as the 17th sector of U.S. critical infrastructure. Researchers use quantum physics to explain how the brain works and consciousness itself, and now a recent paper titled “If time had no beginning” works uses quantum gravity to ask the question “Did time ever begin?”. Videos from the Chicago Quantum Summit have been posted online. The More You Know... The Chinese government published their 14th five year plan to address 11 strategic areas, including quantum information. According to a recent Deloitte report, this includes "satellite quantum networks as a key national research topic" and "aims to create a global QKD network by 2030." In response, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act is moving through Congress to counter this. The concern is that China has figured out how to work with small, innovative startups, while the US government has not. As such, they are more rapidly bringing in commercial advancements. But the US is working to overcome this. The most recent defense authorization bill included new provisions and funding to more effectively work with innovative startups. This includes: $117 billion in funding for new science and technology Several studies on how to better leverage the commercial sector through changes in the DoD acquisition process Expand and streamline the use of Other Transaction Authority (OTAs) to streamline procurement from innovative startups Formalize the Commercial Solutions Openings (CSO) program, which was launched as a pilot program in 2017 to acquire “innovative technologies” through prize competitions and peer review of proposals Establish a pilot program to develop and implement novel acquisition mechanisms related to emerging technologies.

  • Weekly Takeaways-January 11, 2022

    The Train Station Analogy Imagine you are taking the train across town. You get to the train on time (at least according to your watch), but the clock at the train station is running five minutes late. So, the train leaves five minutes late. You get to your connecting station, but that clock is running five minutes fast. Your connecting train has already left. So, you have to wait for the next train. Such is the importance of synchronized clocks. Moving people is analogous to moving data across a network; better synchronization increases throughput, improves efficiency, and reduces latency. And while networks get more complicated (see below), the accuracy hasn't improved in decades. China reportedly has ground-based lasers that can shoot down satellites, and now they have developed a 1 Megawatt laser that can fit on a small satellite. A major solar event like the Carrington Event of 1859 "can cause big problems for GPS satellites". Fortunately, there is only a 2% chance of that happening in the next decade. 2021 was a record year for investment in startups, nearly doubling 2020. By the end of the year three SPACs a day were created and dry powder for new investment hit $750B, with the biggest increase in funds for early stage startups led by giant funds. In return, startups returned a record $774.1 billion in exit value. The Quantum Insider (TQI) released their Annual Report summarizing a big year in quantum, including $3.2 Billion of investment in the quantum sector as well as major technology developments. Looking forward, TQI also released their Top Ten Quantum Technology Predictions for 2022. Their list includes obvious predictions like #5: China’s Year to Shine, or #1. Go Public, Or Go Home. But we like prediction #8: Philosophers Join The Conversation "beyond how does quantum computing work to what does quantum computing mean." Is the brain a quantum processor? Entangled photons can be used for quantum computers, distributing encryption keys, and very accurate time transfer. They can also be used for quantum imaging. Researchers are using entangled photons to make "the invisible visible", where "one photon has a wavelength that can be captured on camera, the other is designed to interact with the object under examination in the invisible range." IEEE has published their list of 12 Exciting Engineering Milestones to Look for in 2022, including the launch of space-based optical systems that will enable deep space communications. The Train Station Analogy, Part II In the old days of analog broadcasts, synchronization was not necessary. This was analogous to all trains departing from one station: you arrive when you arrive. Accurate synchronization is critical as more stations are added and distances between stations decrease. And this is the trend within data and telecommunication networks.The one-way broadcast tower has been replaced by cell towers, which are splitting even further into microcells, picocells, and femtocells (think your wi-fi router). This trend is likely to continue, according to a recent report on 6G. Projected to be 100 times faster than 5G, 6G requires a new network topology that "will be more layered and more meshed, encompassing not only ground-based radio units but also unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), low earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites, and high-altitude platform stations (HAPS)." All of which will need better timing accuracy.

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