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Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 33 | 11.27.23

UK Space is entering the chat. Space dishes to delight. Career Notes with Charles F. Bolden Jr, former NASA Astronaut and Administrator. And more!



Good morning,

I'd like to highlight two of our interviews from last week. The first is with Brendan Curry, space policy analyst, on federal processes and legislation in the space industry. I found it particularly illuminating and helpful.

The second is our career notes with Major General (retired) Charles F. Bolden Jr, former astronaut and NASA Administrator. Major General Bolden was the very first speaker for my class at the US Naval Academy. I was 18 years old, less than a week into Plebe Summer, and still in shock. I don't remember much from those days, but his speech to my class stuck in my mind as powerful, moving, and motivating. He has an incredible story and I'm so thrilled we get to share it here.

It's a rapidly changing world out there so let's get to it. Here’s what happened last week and why it matters...




Blackshark.ai's Series A Funding Round Success

  • What: Blackshark.ai closed an oversubscribed extension to its Series A funding round, totaling $35 million.
  • Who: Blackshark.ai.
  • Why: This funding is crucial for advancing AI-based geospatial intelligence, which is essential for various applications including environmental monitoring, urban planning, and national security.

MDA's Strategic Expansion in the UK

  • What: MDA announced plans to significantly expand its workforce and operational footprint in the UK over the next year.
  • Who: MDA.
  • Why: This expansion underlines the growing importance of the UK space sector in the global market and the increasing demand for skilled professionals in the field.

Rocket Lab's New Space Structures Complex in Baltimore

  • What: Rocket Lab is establishing a new complex in Maryland for the production of advanced composite space structures.
  • Who: Rocket Lab.
  • Why: This move signals Rocket Lab's commitment to expanding its capabilities in space systems manufacturing, contributing significantly to the broader space industry's needs.

UK's Investment in Space Infrastructure

  • What: The UK announced a £47 million investment in space infrastructure, including funding for several space-related projects.
  • Who: UK Government, Space Forge, Northumbria University, Magdrive.
  • Why: This investment demonstrates the UK's commitment to advancing its space sector and underscores the role of government funding in fostering space innovation.



Satellogic Receives NOAA License for U.S. Government Business

  • What: Earth observation company Satellogic has been granted a remote sensing license by NOAA to expand its business with the U.S. government.
  • Who: Satellogic, NOAA.
  • Why: This development is crucial for space industry professionals, as it demonstrates the increasing demand for earth observation data and the role of private companies in meeting government requirements.



US Lawmakers React to SpaceX Worker Injuries

  • What: U.S. lawmakers call for scrutiny of SpaceX following a report on worker injuries.
  • Who: U.S. lawmakers, SpaceX.
  • Why: This scrutiny could impact SpaceX's operations and reputation, especially concerning their safety practices and treatment of employees, which is essential for maintaining public and government trust.



UK Astronaut on the Moon by 2025

  • What: NASA predicts that the first British astronaut could walk on the Moon by 2025 as part of the Artemis program.
  • Who: NASA, UK Government.
  • Why: This marks a significant milestone in international cooperation in space exploration and highlights the growing importance of global partnerships in achieving ambitious space missions.

China Advances with Tianzhou-7 Cargo Spacecraft

  • What: China announced the launch of Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft for 2024, signaling further advancements in their space program.
  • Who: China Manned Space Agency.
  • Why: This development highlights China's growing capabilities in space exploration and logistics, indicating their rising position in the global space race.

Canada's Astronaut for Starliner-1 Mission

  • What: Canadian astronaut Joshua Kutryk is set to join the Starliner-1 mission to the International Space Station.
  • Who: Canadian Space Agency, Boeing, NASA.
  • Why: This mission emphasizes international collaboration in space exploration and Canada's ongoing contributions to human spaceflight.



North Korea's Space Launch and Missile Developments

  • What: North Korea launched its first military satellite, raising concerns over its long-range missile capabilities.
  • Who: North Korea, United Nations, South Korea.
  • Why: This event is significant for its geopolitical implications and highlights the dual-use nature of space technology in military applications.



Skyrora and Spirit Aerospace Collaboration

  • What: Skyrora and Spirit Aerospace announced a collaboration to enhance the UK's orbital launch capability, focusing on additive manufacturing technologies.
  • Who: Skyrora, Spirit Aerospace, UK Space Agency.
  • Why: This partnership signifies a major step towards the UK's goal of becoming Europe’s leading provider of small satellite launch by 2030, representing a significant development in the UK's space industry.



The UK Space Ecosystem Cluster Directory

  • What: The UK Space Ecosystem Cluster Directory highlights the rapid growth of the UK's space industry, emphasizing the expansion of fifteen active space clusters.
  • Who: UK Space Agency, Catapult Satellite Applications.
  • Why: This growth is pivotal for professionals to understand the evolving landscape of the UK's space economy and the increasing opportunities for innovation and collaboration in the sector.



Thales Alenia Space Supports Turkey's Lunar Mission

  • What: Thales Alenia Space has agreed to provide a Communication Transponder for Turkey’s first lunar mission.
  • Who: Thales Alenia Space, TÜBİTAK Space Technologies Research Institute, Turkish Space Agency.
  • Why: This collaboration is significant as it marks Turkey's ambitious entry into lunar exploration and highlights the increasing involvement of emerging space nations in deep space missions.

Venturi Astrolab's Lunar Mission

  • What: Venturi Astrolab announced customers for its lunar rover mission, including commercial space companies with payloads focused on lunar resource utilization and experiments.
  • Who: Venturi Astrolab, Argo Space Corp, Astroport Space Tech, Avalon Space, Interstellar Lab, LifeShip, Inc.
  • Why: This marks a significant shift towards commercial funding and participation in lunar exploration, highlighting the growing private sector interest in space resources and off-world experiments.



Ursa Major's Lynx: A New Era in Solid Rocket Motor Technology

  • What: Ursa Major unveiled Lynx, a new solid rocket motor leveraging 3D printing for improved performance and manufacturing efficiency.
  • Who: Ursa Major.
  • Why: This development is a game changer for defense capabilities, offering a scalable and adaptable solution for rapid production of high-performance solid rocket motors.

NASA's Use of Plutonium-238 for Space Missions

  • What: NASA is moving towards using Plutonium-238 to fuel space missions, receiving a new shipment of plutonium oxide.
  • Who: NASA, Department of Energy.
  • Why: Utilizing plutonium-238 for space missions represents a significant advancement in fuel technology, enabling longer and more resilient deep space missions.



Hydrogen Discovery in Lunar Samples

  • What: Researchers at the Naval Research Lab found solar-wind hydrogen in lunar samples, indicating potential water resource availability on the moon.
  • Who: Naval Research Lab.
  • Why: This discovery is crucial for future lunar missions, as water is a vital resource for sustained lunar presence and deeper space exploration.

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