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Signals and Space | V2 | Issue 1 | 01.08.24

Shifting from GEO to LEO with Telesat. Not our payload, not our problem. Healthy bank balances and launch calendars. Is it a bird, a plane, or a falling booster? And more!



Good morning,

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


  • Itay Glick of OPSWAT discusses “AeroBlade”, a group that's used spearphishing to target US aerospace organizations.
  • Dr. Hisham Ali, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, discusses experimental hypersonics.
  • Dr. Elaina Hyde, Director of the Allan I. Carswell Astronomical Observatory at Canada’s York University, discusses the observatory's renovations and programs.

  • Philip Harlow, President of commercial satellite operator Telesat, discusses the market and military shift from GEO to LEO.



NASA Issues New Space Security Best Practices Guide

  • What: NASA released a Best Practices Guide for Space Security to enhance cybersecurity efforts for space missions.
  • Who: NASA.
  • Why: In an era where cyber threats are increasingly sophisticated, establishing robust security measures is critical for protecting space assets and missions. This guide not only aids NASA's efforts but also serves as a valuable resource for the broader space community, promoting a more secure and resilient space environment.



Terran Orbital Reports an Excess of $70 Million Year-End Cash Balance

  • What: Terran Orbital reported a year-end cash balance of $70 million and received payment from Rivada Space Networks for a completed program milestone.
  • Who: Terran Orbital, Rivada Space Networks.
  • Why: This financial position gives Terran Orbital a solid foundation for its upcoming objectives, illustrating the potential for growth and innovation within the space industry. The milestone payment further indicates successful progress in their contractual agreements, which is significant for investors and industry observers.

AST SpaceMobile Provides Interim Update on Fundraising

  • What: AST SpaceMobile provided an update on its fundraising efforts, seeking to close a strategic investment with multiple parties.
  • Who: AST SpaceMobile.
  • Why: AST's efforts to secure funding for a global cellular broadband network in space represent an ambitious step towards enhanced connectivity. The outcome of this fundraising could significantly impact the company's capabilities and the broader telecommunications landscape.

LEAP-TD Mission Success

  • What: Dhruva Space announced the successful space-qualification of its P-30 Satellite Platform aboard ISRO’s PSLV-C58 POEM-3 mission.
  • Who: Dhruva Space, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • Why: The success of LEAP-TD mission showcases the emerging capabilities and ambitions of India's private space sector. It illustrates the potential for innovative hosted payload services, which could significantly lower barriers to space access for a variety of applications.

Rewind 2023: India has 204 space startups, sector received $123mn investments

  • What: India's space sector saw the emergence of 54 new startups and received $123.9 million in funding in 2023.
  • Who: Indian space startups.
  • Why: This growth signifies India's rising prominence in the global space industry. The influx of new startups and investment indicates a robust ecosystem that could lead to increased innovation and competition in the sector.

SynMax Raises $13M

  • What: Satellite data analytics company SynMax raised $13 million in funding.
  • Who: SynMax.
  • Why: This funding round reflects the growing interest and potential in satellite data analytics. SynMax's expansion could enhance capabilities in monitoring industrial assets and maritime intelligence, offering new solutions for global challenges.

Early-stage hard tech firm Countdown Capital shutting down

  • What: Venture capital firm Countdown Capital announced its shutdown by the end of March 2024.
  • Who: Countdown Capital.
  • Why: The closure of Countdown Capital, despite its past investments in space startups, indicates the challenges and volatility within the venture capital and space sectors. This development could have broader implications for funding availability for emerging space technologies.

Maxar Space Systems-Built Ovzon 3 Satellite Launched

  • What: Maxar Space Systems launched the Ovzon 3 satellite, its first use of the new all-electric Modular Architecture Platform.
  • Who: Maxar Space Systems, Ovzon.
  • Why: The successful deployment of this technology could revolutionize satellite manufacturing, offering more efficient and flexible solutions. It's a pivotal development in the commercial space sector, promising enhanced capabilities and services.

Maxar Intelligence Wins Nga Contract For Precision3d Data

  • What: Maxar Intelligence secured a contract to provide the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency with 3D data for the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Who: Maxar Intelligence, US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
  • Why: This contract highlights the growing importance of geospatial intelligence in security and strategic planning. Maxar's role emphasizes the critical function of commercial entities in supporting government agencies with advanced technologies.

Funding Future Tech: NASA Names 2024 Innovative Concept Studies

  • What: NASA selected 13 early-stage technology concepts for funding under its NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program.
  • Who: NASA, various researchers and technologists.
  • Why: This funding initiative encourages the exploration of visionary ideas that could transform future space missions. It's a crucial step in fostering innovation and potentially revolutionizing space exploration and technology.



Scientists are attempting to track 1,000 cattle and buffalo from space using GPS, AI and satellites

  • What: Australian scientists launched the SpaceCows program to track cattle and buffalo using GPS, AI, and satellites.
  • Who: Australian government, scientists, local rangers, and stockmen.
  • Why: This innovative use of space technology not only aids in managing ecological and economic threats but also exemplifies the diverse applications of satellite technology for Earth-based issues. The program represents a significant step in leveraging space for sustainable land and animal management practices.

China storms ahead in space weather research with largest observatory on Earth

  • What: China completed its Meridian Project, creating the world's largest network of ground-based observatories for space weather monitoring.
  • Who: China’s National Space Science Center, Chinese government.
  • Why: The completion of this project not only secures China's space infrastructure but also advances its standing in global space weather research. The expansive monitoring network provides crucial data for predicting and mitigating space weather effects, benefiting both national and international space activities.

Sidus Space Receives NOAA Remote Sensing License

  • What: Sidus Space received a Tier 1 remote sensing license from NOAA for its upcoming LizzieSAT mission.
  • Who: Sidus Space, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • Why: This license approval is pivotal for Sidus Space's upcoming mission and highlights the growing demand for high-quality remote sensing data. It signifies the potential for enhanced Earth observation capabilities and services.



Complaint and Notice of Hearing-Space Exploration Technologies

  • What: SpaceX faces a complaint from the US National Labor Relations Board over allegations of illegally firing employees for circulating an open letter.
  • Who: SpaceX, US National Labor Relations Board, former SpaceX employees.
  • Why: This case underscores the critical balance between rapid innovation and responsible labor practices in the space industry. The outcome could influence corporate culture and employee relations in tech companies, setting a precedent for industry standards.

SpaceX sues US agency that accused it of firing workers critical of Elon Musk

  • What: SpaceX sued the National Labor Relations Board, challenging its structure and authority after being accused of illegally firing employees.
  • Who: SpaceX, National Labor Relations Board.
  • Why: This lawsuit reflects ongoing tensions between private space companies and regulatory bodies. The outcome could have implications for labor relations and regulatory oversight in the rapidly evolving space industry.

Where lawmakers think space policy is headed in 2024

  • What: U.S. lawmakers discuss their perspectives on the direction of space policy in 2024, covering various issues and initiatives.
  • Who: U.S. lawmakers, space industry stakeholders.
  • Why: Understanding the legislative landscape is crucial for industry professionals as it shapes the regulatory environment, funding opportunities, and strategic priorities. These insights provide a glimpse into potential policy shifts and their implications for the space sector.



NASA and Russia will keep launching each other's astronauts to ISS until 2025

  • What: NASA and Roscosmos will continue launching each other's astronauts to the ISS through 2025, despite geopolitical tensions.
  • Who: NASA, Roscosmos.
  • Why: This ongoing collaboration is a testament to the enduring nature of international partnerships in space. It highlights the ISS's role as a symbol of unity and the importance of maintaining operational continuity and scientific progress, even amidst geopolitical discord.



Joint Task Force-Space Defense Commercial Operations cell receives new name

  • What: The US Joint Task Force-Space Defense Commercial Operations cell was renamed to Joint Commercial Operations cell.
  • Who: US Joint Task Force-Space Defense.
  • Why: This rebranding reflects the cell's broader, collaborative mission with global partners. It underscores the growing importance of space defense and the need for international cooperation in ensuring the safety and security of space assets.

Rocket Lab To Build 18 Spacecraft For Mystery U.S. Govt. Customer

  • What: Rocket Lab secured a $489 million contract to design, build, and operate 18 spacecraft for an undisclosed U.S. government agency.
  • Who: Rocket Lab, undisclosed U.S. government agency.
  • Why: This significant contract underlines Rocket Lab's growing prominence in the space industry and the increasing reliance of government sectors on commercial entities for space capabilities, indicating a robust market for space services.

L3Harris Technologies, Inc.- U.S. GAO

  • What: The U.S. Government Accountability Office denied L3Harris' protest against NASA's contract award to Ball Aerospace for the GeoXO sounder instrument.
  • Who: L3Harris Technologies, Ball Aerospace, NASA.
  • Why: This decision underscores the competitive nature and high stakes of government contracts in the space sector. It highlights the importance of transparent and fair procurement processes for critical space technologies.



USSF-52 successfully launches from the Eastern Range

  • What: The US Space Force launched the Boeing-built X-37B spaceplane on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy, marking its seventh flight since 2010.
  • Who: US Space Force, Boeing, SpaceX.
  • Why: This launch not only continues a two-decade legacy of the X-37B program but also signifies advancements in reliable and resilient space capabilities. The mission's new orbital regime offers fresh opportunities for space domain awareness and technology experiments, reinforcing the US's position in space operations.

Chinese rocket booster falls from space, crashes near house, after satellite launch: report

  • What: A Chinese Long March 3B rocket's side boosters fell back to Earth, landing near residential areas, after a satellite launch.
  • Who: China National Space Administration, residents of Guangxi region.
  • Why: This incident highlights the ongoing risk and challenges associated with space debris management. Ensuring the safety and sustainability of space activities is vital, particularly as launch activities increase globally. It also underscores the need for improved safety measures and international protocols to protect people and property from potential space debris impacts.

SpaceX’s first Falcon 9 launch of 2024 features first 6 direct-to-cell Starlink satellites

  • What: SpaceX launched its first 6 direct-to-cell Starlink satellites among 21 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket.
  • Who: SpaceX.
  • Why: This launch marks a significant step towards eliminating global communication dead zones. If successful, it can revolutionize how people access cellular services, impacting industries ranging from emergency services to remote business operations.

SpaceX back with 1st Space Coast launch of the year

  • What: SpaceX conducted its first Space Coast launch of the year with a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a telecom satellite for Ovzon.
  • Who: SpaceX, Ovzon.
  • Why: SpaceX's aggressive launch schedule underlines its pivotal role in the commercial space launch sector. The company's ability to maintain a high launch cadence is crucial for its business model and the broader goal of frequent and reliable space access.

India to use SpaceX's Falcon-9 rocket to launch communications satellite

  • What: India has announced it will use SpaceX's Falcon-9 rocket to launch a communications satellite exceeding its own launch capacity.
  • Who: NewSpace India Ltd, SpaceX.
  • Why: This collaboration signifies a significant step in international space partnerships and could pave the way for more extensive cooperation between India and SpaceX, potentially boosting India's capabilities and influence in the space sector.

48000 pounds of engine thrust to power lift upper stage Vulcan rocket

  • What: United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur rocket, featuring significant thrust power, is set to launch, marking its debut.
  • Who: United Launch Alliance.
  • Why: The Vulcan Centaur's launch represents a major advancement in rocket technology and U.S. launch capabilities. It's pivotal for national security missions and commercial ventures, highlighting the ongoing innovation in launch systems.

China completes new commercial launch pad to boost access to space

  • What: China completed a new commercial launch pad on Hainan island, designed to host liquid propellant launch vehicles.
  • Who: China National Space Administration.
  • Why: The new launch pad represents China's expanding infrastructure to support its growing space ambitions. It's a strategic move to enhance launch capabilities and reduce debris risks, further positioning China as a major player in the global space industry.



XpoSat: India launches space mission to study black holes

  • What: India launched the Xray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) aboard its PSLV to study astronomical x-rays from black holes and other celestial bodies.
  • Who: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • Why: This mission places India at the forefront of astrophysical research, contributing to global understanding of cosmic phenomena. XPoSat's findings could provide invaluable insights into the universe's most mysterious objects, enhancing scientific knowledge and technological prowess.

NASA Asteroid Sampling Mission Renamed OSIRIS-APEX for New Journey

  • What: NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission has been renamed OSIRIS-APEX for its new mission to study asteroid Apophis.
  • Who: NASA.
  • Why: This mission will provide valuable insights into the properties of an asteroid closely approaching Earth. It's an important step in understanding space objects that could pose a potential threat, as well as in broader planetary science research.



MBRYONICS Selected As Optical Terminal Provider For DARPA’s Space-BACN Program

  • What: MBRYONICS was selected by DARPA to develop an optical terminal for the Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node program.
  • Why: This selection highlights the innovative strides being made in satellite communications technology. MBRYONICS's involvement in creating a versatile, low-cost intersatellite communications terminal could pave the way for more efficient and flexible space networks.

Space elevator design wins Barrow-born architect €10,000

  • What: An architect won a prize for designing a space elevator concept, proposing an alternative to traditional rocket launches.
  • Who: Jordan William Hughes, Jacques Rougerie Foundation.
  • Why: The space elevator concept represents a radical shift in how humanity could access space, offering a potentially more sustainable and efficient method. It's an example of how bold ideas could shape the future of space access.

ISRO’s Fuel Cell flight tested in PSLV C58

  • What: ISRO successfully tested a hydrogen fuel cell in space during its recent PSLV C58 mission.
  • Who: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • Why: This successful test is a significant step towards developing more sustainable and efficient power systems for future manned missions. It demonstrates ISRO's commitment to innovative technologies and its growing capabilities in space exploration.

SpaceX Launches First Direct-to-Cell Starlink Satellites for Service With T-Mobile

  • What: SpaceX launched the first six direct-to-cell Starlink satellites in partnership with T-Mobile.
  • Who: SpaceX, T-Mobile.
  • Why: This venture is set to revolutionize remote connectivity, potentially transforming communication capabilities worldwide. It highlights the innovative approaches companies are taking to address global communication challenges.

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