<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=205228923362421&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Signals and Space | V2 | Issue 9 | 03.04.24

Don’t let sleeping probes lie. Wings for India’s first Vyomanauts. The good, the bad, and the ugly of space finance reports. Pay heed to ITAR warnings. And more!



Good morning,

Another doozy of a roundup for you today. The passage of another continuing resolution by the US Congress extended budget deadlines into March. This continuing set of continuing resolutions represent a significant continuing challenge for the space industry. Call your Congressman. It's time they did their jobs.

Meanwhile, Boeing's $51 million settlement with the US Department of State to resolve violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Arms Export Control Act underscores the potential consequences of export violations. It's not the size of the settlement that matters here. Nor the fact it was Boeing, who can't seem to catch a break. It's the fact that the Executive Branch is enforcing these rules strictly. If you dig into the story, many of Boeing's violations were things that could happen to any business. There's no flexibility with ITAR. Strict compliance is the only viable path. The implications of this settlement serve as a cautionary tale for the entire industry, emphasizing the potential financial and operational risks associated with non-compliance.

On a lighter note, we published a fantastic Deep Space interview with Robert Kurson, author of "Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon." In it, he discusses the inspirational story of Apollo 8, emphasizing the courage, innovation, and teamwork that made man's first journey to the Moon possible. It's well worth a listen.

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


  • Robert Kurson, author of "Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon," discusses the inspiration and impact of Apollo 8.

  • Dr. Knatokie Ford, Founder and CEO of Fly Sci Enterprise, discusses diversity, equality, and inclusion in space.

  • Allen Herbert, an aerospace engineer and agrifood advocate, explores African and Diaspora Science Fiction.

  • Eleftherios Kosmas, Vice-Chair of the Libre Space Foundation, discusses open source space technologies.

  • Matt Shieh, CEO and Co-Founder of Canopy Aerospace, discusses supply chain and advanced manufacturing issues in aerospace.


Funding boost to grow Aussie space sector

  • What: The Australian government supports 12 new space projects with more than $9 million in funding, aligning with NASA's Artemis program.
  • Why: This funding aims to build capability in the Australian space sector and respond to global challenges such as climate change, showcasing the country's commitment to contributing to international space exploration efforts and supply chains.

U.S. Department of State Concludes $51 Million Settlement with Boeing

  • What: The Boeing Company has agreed to a $51 million civil penalty to resolve violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Arms Export Control Act.
  • Why: This settlement underscores the critical importance of compliance with ITAR regulations for space companies, highlighting the potential financial and operational risks associated with export violations.

Boeing in talks to buy supplier Spirit AeroSystems

  • What: Boeing is reportedly in discussions to acquire Spirit AeroSystems, a major supplier that was previously spun off from Boeing in 2005.
  • Why: This potential acquisition reflects Boeing's strategy to streamline its supply chain and recover from recent challenges, indicating a significant move in the aerospace industry that could affect space companies reliant on Spirit AeroSystems.

Firefly Aerospace Doubles Facilities in Briggs, Texas to Support Medium Launch Vehicle

  • What: Firefly Aerospace expands its Rocket Ranch in Texas, enhancing its manufacturing and testing capabilities to support the development of new launch vehicles.
  • Why: The expansion signifies Firefly Aerospace's growth and commitment to the competitive launch market, indicating the company's ambition to play a significant role in medium lift capabilities and contribute to the increasing demand for launch services.

AAC Space Africa wins SEK 2.3 M satellite order

  • What: AAC Space Africa secures its first satellite order, signifying its capabilities in assembling, integrating, and testing satellites.
  • Why: This order marks a significant milestone for AAC Space Africa, highlighting the growing space industry in Africa and the potential for regional companies to contribute to the global satellite market.

Rocket Lab Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2023 Financial Results, Issues Guidance for the First Quarter

  • What: Rocket Lab reports a 16% year-on-year revenue growth for 2023, with a backlog of contracts valued at over $1 billion and projects significant revenue growth in Q1 2024.
  • Why: This financial performance and optimistic outlook signal Rocket Lab's strong position and growing influence in the competitive space industry, reflecting its successful expansion and the market's confidence in its capabilities.

Astra Space founders propose buyout at fraction of 2021 valuation

  • What: Astra Space founders propose a $278 million buyout of the company, a significant decrease from its 2021 valuation, amid stock declines and operational challenges.
  • Why: This move highlights the volatile nature of the space industry and the struggles even promising companies face, emphasizing the importance of resilience and strategic adjustments in this high-stakes market.

Virgin Galactic Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2023 Financial Results and Provides Business Update

  • What: Virgin Galactic reports on its financial results and operational achievements in 2023, amidst FAA investigations and plans for a new manufacturing facility for next-generation spaceplanes.
  • Why: Virgin Galactic's update reflects the challenges and scrutiny space tourism companies face, alongside their efforts to innovate and expand, underscoring the evolving dynamics of the commercial spaceflight sector.

UNSEENLABS announces a record-breaking fundraising of €85 million

  • What: UNSEENLABS, a France-based company, has raised €85 million in a new funding round to expand its satellite constellation for tracking clandestine ships across oceans.
  • Why: This significant investment underscores the growing importance of maritime security and the role of space-based assets in enhancing global maritime operations. It highlights the commercial viability and strategic importance of satellite technology in addressing global challenges.

New funding to put the UK at heart of next generation telecommunications services

  • What: The UK Space Agency announces a £10 million funding competition to advance UK technologies in global telecommunications services as part of the ARTES program.
  • Why: This funding initiative positions the UK as a leader in the development of innovative telecommunications technologies, fostering growth in the national space sector and contributing to the global competitiveness of the UK's space industry.

European Space Agency and GSMA Foundry Forge Ahead with Partnership

  • What: The European Space Agency (ESA) and GSMA Foundry have announced new initiatives and funding opportunities to foster collaboration between the mobile and satellite industries.
  • Why: This partnership is significant for driving innovation in satellite and terrestrial network technologies. It opens new avenues for revenue and technological advancements, potentially transforming global communication networks.


UK and France to deepen research and AI links following Horizon association

  • What: The UK and France announce new funding and a joint committee to boost research collaboration, focusing on AI, low-carbon hydrogen, space observation, and research security.
  • Why: This collaboration signifies the growing importance of international partnerships in advancing space technology and AI research, contributing to global efforts in space exploration and innovation.

Congress Clears New CR, Punting Shutdown Threat Further Into March

  • What: The US Congress has passed another continuing resolution (CR), extending the deadline for FY2024 appropriations bills into March and extending the FAA’s authorization, including the commercial human spaceflight regulations learning period.
  • Why: This action affects many space programs by delaying new funding and program starts, highlighting the challenges of budgetary uncertainties on NASA, the DoD, and broader space initiatives.

Congress Takes Action to Beat China in Space

  • What: U.S. legislation introduced to make spaceport facility bonds tax-exempt, aiming to strengthen America's position in the global space economy and counter China's advancements.
  • Why: This legislative effort is strategic for bolstering the U.S. space industry's competitiveness, encouraging investment in infrastructure, and ensuring the nation's leadership in space exploration and commercial space activities amidst global rivalry.

US tells Musk to allow service in Taiwan

  • What: The US government has reportedly urged SpaceX to activate its Starshield system in Taiwan, amidst concerns over service restrictions.
  • Why: This situation reflects the geopolitical complexities surrounding space technologies and services, illustrating the strategic importance of satellite communication systems in international security and diplomatic relations.

Is the FAA Ready for More Space Travelers?

  • What: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) questions whether the FAA is prepared for the increasing number of space travelers, highlighting regulatory and safety considerations.
  • Why: As commercial space travel becomes more prevalent, ensuring the safety of passengers and crew is paramount. This inquiry into the FAA's readiness underscores the need for robust regulatory frameworks that can adapt to the rapidly evolving space industry, protecting all stakeholders involved in space exploration and travel.

How DOD’s Overhaul of Space Classification Will Help Operations, Industry, Allies

  • What: The Department of Defense (DOD) is revising its space classification policy to lower the level of secrecy on certain space programs, aiming to improve cooperation with commercial industry and international allies.
  • Why: This policy shift is crucial for enhancing transparency and collaboration in space operations. By reducing classification levels, the DOD aims to foster a more inclusive and innovative space industry ecosystem, promoting shared advancements and bolstering collective security.


Lonestar Data Holdings Independence Payload Makes History

  • What: Lonestar Space successfully conducted a full data storage test from the Moon's surface, a leap forward for global disaster recovery services.
  • Why: This test marks a critical advancement in the use of lunar and space environments for Earth-based applications, opening new possibilities for data storage and recovery solutions that could revolutionize how we manage data resilience against global catastrophes.

Japan's SLIM moon probe unexpectedly survives lunar night

  • What: Japan's SLIM moon probe has unexpectedly survived a lunar night, maintaining communication with Earth despite not being designed for such conditions.
  • Why: SLIM's survival is a testament to the probe's resilience and offers valuable insights into the design and operation of spacecraft in extreme environments. This achievement could inform future missions and technologies for lunar exploration.


Russian module on International Space Station suffers coolant leak

  • What: The Russian-made Nauka module on the ISS experienced a leak in a backup cooling system, with astronauts onboard not in immediate danger.
  • Why: This incident highlights the challenges and risks associated with maintaining and operating the aging infrastructure of the International Space Station, underscoring the importance of international collaboration in space exploration and incident management.

Meet 4 astronauts selected for Gaganyaan mission

  • What: India has selected its first four vyomanauts for the Gaganyaan mission, marking a significant step in its national space program with plans for a crewed orbital spacecraft launch in 2025.
  • Why: This development is a monumental step for India, signaling its commitment and progress in becoming a major player in global space exploration. The selection of vyomanauts not only showcases national pride but also paves the way for future space endeavors, including a dedicated space station and lunar exploration.


Iran's Pars 1 satellite enters space after Russian launch

  • What: Iran successfully launched the Pars-I satellite into orbit, focusing on remote sensing and imaging, using a Russian Soyuz-2.1b launcher.
  • Why: The launch represents Iran's growing capabilities in space technology and remote sensing, contributing to its national security and technological advancement, while also reflecting the geopolitical dynamics of space launches.

China launches new communication technology experiment satellite

  • What: China has successfully launched a communication technology experiment satellite into orbit, aimed at conducting multi-band and high-speed communication technology experiments.
  • Why: This launch is significant for advancing communication technologies in space, potentially enhancing global communication networks and contributing to the development of new space-based communication standards.


Bright Ascension And Third Planet Orbital Announce Partnership

  • What: Bright Ascension and Third Planet Orbital sign a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the development of integrated software and hardware platforms for the New Space industry.
  • Why: This partnership between a space software technology provider and a satellite bus provider is strategic for fostering innovation and standardization in space technologies, facilitating the rapid growth and scalability of space missions and satellite services.

Abu Dhabi sovereign fund to invest space tech, AI this year

  • What: Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Co plans significant investments in space technology and AI, aiming to boost its portfolio in the US and Europe.
  • Why: This investment strategy underscores the growing global interest in space and AI technologies, highlighting the sector's potential for innovation and the importance of international investments in shaping the future of space exploration and technology.

Spacetech startup for propulsion systems Spacefields raises first institutional funding

  • What: SpaceFields, an Indian startup specializing in rocket propulsion systems, raises $800,000 in seed funding to expand its team and technology development.
  • Why: This funding milestone emphasizes the vitality of the global startup ecosystem in driving advancements in space propulsion technologies, highlighting the role of emerging markets in contributing to the space industry's growth.

Universal Hydrogen Successfully Powers Megawatt-Class Fuel Cell Powertrain Using Company’s Proprietary Liquid Hydrogen Module

  • What: Universal Hydrogen has successfully powered a megawatt-class fuel cell powertrain using its proprietary liquid hydrogen module, marking a significant advancement in hydrogen fuel technology.
  • Why: This breakthrough demonstrates the potential of hydrogen as a clean, efficient fuel source for aerospace and other industries. It signifies a step towards sustainable energy solutions in aviation and spaceflight, aligning with global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

Lockheed Martin's Pony Express 2 Tech Demo Satellites Declared Ready For Launch

  • What: Lockheed Martin announces that its Pony Express 2 mission, consisting of two technology demonstration satellites, is ready for launch.
  • Why: The Pony Express 2 mission aims to demonstrate the potential of space to enhance Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control. This initiative is crucial for the advancement of space-based tactical communication systems and could significantly impact future military and commercial space operations.


NewsSpace ground tracking program to reach key milestone

  • What: The US Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office's space-based Ground Moving Target Indicators program faces uncertainty due to continuing budget resolutions.
  • Why: The program's uncertain future highlights the impact of fiscal policy on military space initiatives, stressing the importance of stable funding for advancing national security capabilities in space.

Viasat Wins Contract from Northrop Grumman on U.S. Air Force's Commercial Space Internet Experiments

  • What: Viasat awarded a contract by Northrop Grumman to support the U.S. Air Force's initiative for integrating commercial space internet services with military systems.
  • Why: This contract is a pivotal move towards enhancing military communications and operational capabilities through commercial space technologies, showcasing the integration of private sector innovation with defense objectives for superior connectivity and security.

Space Force, NRO Will Fly Targeting Satellites ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’

  • What: The US Space Force and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) are advancing their collaboration to deploy space-based targeting satellites, aiming to enhance space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
  • Why: This collaboration is pivotal for national security, enabling more responsive and integrated space operations. It reflects an evolution in military space strategy, emphasizing the importance of space assets in modern warfare and intelligence gathering.


Northrop Grumman warns space sector employees of potential layoffs

  • What: Northrop Grumman warns of potential layoffs at its California space facility due to the cancellation of a Space Force contract, affecting up to 1,000 employees.
  • Why: This development illustrates the impact of government contract volatility on the space workforce, highlighting the need for industry resilience and adaptability in the face of shifting priorities and funding.

Similar posts

Stay in the loop on new releases. 

Subscribe below to receive information about new blog posts, podcasts, newsletters, and product information.