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Signals and Space | V2 | Issue 10 | 03.11.24

Mars sample return anyone? Uncle Sam wants you to go to space. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 on route to the ISS. Women in the STEM workforce. And more!



Good morning,

For all you Astronaut hopefuls out there, NASA just re-opened job applications for their next class of Artemis-era astronauts. The last time the applications were open (in 2020), about 12,000 people applied. I was one of them. May the odds be ever in your favor this time around.

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.


  • Simone Petrella, President of N2K Networks, discussing our women in the workforce study aimed at identifying workforce gaps and opportunities for women and underrepresented individuals.
  • Michael Stevens, discussing his involvement in the CLPS programs, including work on the Peregrine and IM-1 missions and the SpectraCam space camera.
  • Dr. Elaina Hyde, Director of York University's Allan I. Carswell Observatory, discussing the impacts of the solar maximum on Earth and orbital objects.
  • John Thompson, discussing his experience mentoring student rocketry teams for the NASA Student Launch and American Rocketry Challenge.
  • Isabelle Mierau, Cofounder of the new Space Debris DAO, discussing the launch of their new loss and damage fund for low Earth orbit.


Viasat and Rocket Lab Partner to Showcase On-Demand, Low-Latency Data Relay Services for LEO Satellites

  • What: Viasat and Rocket Lab announce a partnership to demonstrate on-demand, low-latency data relay services for LEO satellites, set for an early 2026 launch.
  • Why: This collaboration aims to enhance near-Earth communication capabilities, offering satellite operators more efficient data management and supporting a range of Earth observation and defense activities.

Astra Space, Inc. To Be Taken Private

  • What: Astra Space announces its transition back to private ownership after a challenging period in the public market, with a buyout led by its founders.
  • Why: This move reflects the broader challenges within the space industry, highlighting the importance of sustainable business models and technological viability in the face of market pressures.

Thaicom Orders THAICOM-9 Satellite from Astranis

  • What: Thaicom has selected Astranis for the construction of THAICOM-9, a satellite equipped with a software-defined radio for dynamic operations in orbit.
  • Why: This partnership demonstrates the evolving capabilities of satellite communications, offering flexible and advanced solutions for global connectivity challenges.

Airbus Space Accelerator

  • What: Airbus has opened applications for its summer 2024 Space Accelerator program for startups, academics, and non-traditional space businesses.
  • Why: The program offers participants a unique opportunity to develop their products with Airbus’ support, fostering innovation in the space industry and helping new ventures to achieve commercial and technical milestones.

Terran Orbital Awarded Up To $45 Million IDIQ by NASA to Support Space Technology Advancement

  • What: Terran Orbital has been awarded an IDIQ contract by NASA worth up to $45 million to support space technology advancements.
  • Why: This contract emphasizes the crucial role of private sector partnerships in accelerating the development of innovative space technologies, supporting NASA's missions and the broader space exploration goals.

Terran Orbital Awarded a $15.2 million Contract from the US Space Force

  • What: Terran Orbital has secured a $15.2 million contract from the US Space Force to supply satellite platforms and support equipment.
  • Why: This contract underscores the increasing role of private companies in national security space initiatives, highlighting the trust in commercial capabilities to deliver mission-critical assets.

Lockheed Martin looks to acquire spacecraft maker Terran Orbital for nearly $600 million

  • What: Lockheed Martin has proposed to acquire Terran Orbital, a spacecraft manufacturer, for nearly $600 million, including assuming the company’s outstanding debt.
  • Why: This acquisition signifies Lockheed Martin's strategic move to enhance its capabilities in the satellite manufacturing space, reflecting the competitive dynamics and consolidation trends within the aerospace and defense sector.

Iridium Communications acquires Satelles for satellite-based time-and-location services

  • What: Iridium Communications has agreed to acquire Satelles, a provider of satellite-based time-and-location services, for approximately $115 million.
  • Why: This acquisition underlines Iridium's strategy to diversify its service offerings and leverage its satellite network for innovative applications. It emphasizes the growing importance of satellite-based services in enhancing the reliability and security of critical infrastructure systems.


Planetary Science Caucus rechartered with support from The Planetary Society

  • What: The Planetary Science Caucus has been rechartered in the US Congress with bipartisan support to promote federal investment in space science.
  • Why: This caucus aims to enhance government support for space exploration and research, highlighting the importance of federal investment in advancing our understanding of space and addressing challenges like near-Earth object threats.

C-LEO Programme - GOV.UK

  • What: The UK Government has announced up to £160 million in funding for the C-LEO programme to support connectivity in low Earth orbit.
  • Why: This investment reflects the UK's commitment to advancing its capabilities in space, fostering innovation, and supporting the development of next-generation satellite constellations for global connectivity.

Texas greenlights negotiations with SpaceX for Boca Chica State Park land exchange

  • What: Texas has approved negotiations with SpaceX for a land swap involving Boca Chica State Park, facilitating SpaceX's expansion plans.
  • Why: This development highlights the intersection of commercial space activities with public land management, reflecting the growing footprint of space companies on terrestrial resources.

NASA to discontinue $2 billion satellite servicing project on higher costs, schedule delays

  • What: NASA has decided to discontinue the OSAM-1 project, a $2 billion satellite servicing initiative, due to increased costs and schedule delays.
  • Why: This decision highlights the challenges of balancing innovation with budgetary and timeline constraints in space missions. It also underscores the importance of assessing the viability and strategic alignment of projects in the evolving space landscape.


New ICEYE ocean vision strengthens maritime security applications

  • What: ICEYE has launched Ocean Vision, a radar satellite service for maritime surveillance, enhancing security and monitoring capabilities.
  • Why: Ocean Vision represents a leap forward in the ability to monitor maritime activities globally, offering critical data for national security, environmental protection, and commercial maritime operations regardless of weather conditions or time of day.

Muon Space Establishes Communications, Confirms Health of Weather Satellite

  • What: Muon Space has established communication with its weather satellite, confirming its operational status.
  • Why: The success of Muon Space's mission adds valuable assets to Earth observation capabilities, providing critical data for weather monitoring and environmental science.


GITAI Successfully Demonstrates Robotics Construction Capabilities for Lunar Communications Towers

  • What: GITAI has demonstrated robotics technology for constructing communication towers on the lunar surface, showcasing a significant advancement in lunar infrastructure development.
  • Why: This development is a crucial step toward establishing sustainable human presence and operations on the Moon, paving the way for future lunar exploration and commercial activities.

GITAI Successfully Demonstrates Robotics Construction Capabilities for Lunar Communications Towers

  • What: GITAI has successfully demonstrated robotics technology for constructing lunar communications towers, showcasing potential applications on the Moon's surface.
  • Why: This demonstration highlights the potential of robotic technologies in supporting lunar exploration and infrastructure development, marking a significant step toward sustainable human presence on the Moon.

NASA Collects First Surface Science in Decades via Commercial Moon Mission

  • What: NASA has received data from the lunar South Pole via the Intuitive Machines lunar lander, marking the first collection of science data from the Moon's surface in over 50 years.
  • Why: This milestone in lunar exploration showcases the evolving landscape of space exploration, highlighting the role of commercial partnerships in advancing scientific knowledge and technological capabilities on the Moon, a critical step towards sustainable lunar exploration and utilization.


NASA Opens Astronaut Applications as Newest Class Graduates

  • What: NASA's latest class of astronaut candidates has graduated, and the agency has opened applications for the next class of astronauts.
  • Why: This marks a significant milestone in preparing for future missions, including those to the Moon and Mars, underlining NASA's ongoing commitment to advancing human spaceflight and exploration.


Japanese private-sector rocket to be launched Saturday

  • What: Space One is set to launch Kairos, the first entirely privately-funded Japanese rocket, aiming to deploy a satellite into low Earth orbit.
  • Why: A successful launch would signify a major shift for Japan's space industry, emphasizing the growing role of private investment in enhancing national space capabilities.

SpaceX launches 53 satellites on Transporter-10 rideshare flight, nails rocket landing

  • What: SpaceX's Transporter-10 mission successfully launched 53 payloads to low Earth orbit and achieved a successful rocket landing.
  • Why: This launch highlights the growing capabilities and reliability of commercial spaceflight providers in deploying satellites, supporting a wide range of applications from environmental monitoring to global communications.


5800 pounds of batteries tossed off the ISS in 2021 will fall to Earth today

  • What: Old batteries discarded from the ISS in 2021 are scheduled to re-enter Earth's atmosphere and disintegrate.
  • Why: This event highlights the ongoing challenges of managing space debris and the importance of sustainable practices in space operations to mitigate environmental impacts.



  • What: Venus Aerospace announces the successful long-duration engine test of its Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine (RDRE), in collaboration with DARPA.
  • Why: This technological breakthrough promises increased efficiency and reduced propellant usage for hypersonic and space missions, marking a significant advancement in rocket engine technology.

Firefly Aerospace Announces Second Round of DREAM Payload Awardees

  • What: Firefly Aerospace has announced the second round of awardees for its DREAM Payload Program, offering free rides to space for educational payloads.
  • Why: This initiative supports the development of small satellite programs and trains the next generation of aerospace engineers, promoting STEM education and innovation in space technology.

China’s Mars sample return mission ‘progressing smoothly’

  • What: China reports smooth progress in its Mars sample return mission, with key technologies in place and a roadmap to return samples by 2030.
  • Why: China’s advancements contrast with NASA’s challenges, indicating a competitive landscape in planetary exploration and highlighting the global race to achieve significant milestones in Mars exploration.

Dhruva Space and Swedish Space Corporation expand Ground Station network synergies

  • What: Dhruva Space and the Swedish Space Corporation have expanded their collaboration in satellite ground station networks, underlining long-standing Indo-Swedish cooperation.
  • Why: This partnership exemplifies the importance of international cooperation in enhancing global space infrastructure, facilitating the growth of new space industries in both countries.

Agile Space Receives SpaceWERX Contract for Innovative Mobile Payload Processing Center

  • What: Agile Space has been awarded a contract by SpaceWERX for a Mobile Payload Processing Center aimed at enhancing mission effectiveness.
  • Why: This award highlights the importance of agile and innovative technologies in supporting the operational needs of the Space Force, reinforcing the critical role of commercial partnerships in national security space initiatives.

AAC Clyde Space wins SEK 56.2 M order from LusoSpace

  • What: AAC Clyde Space has received an order worth SEK 56.2 million from LusoSpace for satellite kits to be delivered in Q4 2024.
  • Why: This partnership illustrates the growing demand for satellite technology and the collaborative efforts within the industry to expand space capabilities, particularly in the European market.


Space Force reimagines training, operations as conflicts intensify

  • What: The US Space Force is updating its training and operations strategy to better prepare for the complexities of modern space conflicts.
  • Why: These changes are critical for maintaining operational superiority in space, ensuring personnel are well-equipped to handle the strategic and tactical challenges of space defense.

Space Force agencies pile on to find 'alternate PNT' capabilities

  • What: The US Space Force is investing in technologies to provide alternatives to GPS, including issuing grants for the development of Alternate Positioning, Navigation, & Timing (AltPNT) capabilities.
  • Why: This initiative addresses the growing need for resilient navigation solutions in the face of potential threats to GPS, ensuring the reliability of critical infrastructure and national security operations.

Contracts for March 1, 2024

  • What: Boeing has been awarded a nearly $440 million contract modification for the production and launch of the Wideband Global Satellite Communications Space Vehicle 12.
  • Why: This contract modification is crucial for maintaining and enhancing secure communication capabilities for U.S. military operations, demonstrating the ongoing investment in space assets to support national defense and global security.

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