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Signals and Space | V2 | Issue 11 | 03.18.24

Satellite-to-cell service gets a boost. The highs and lows of space launch. Biopharma sees space returns. Range launch pads to get a facelift. And more!



Good morning,

SpaceX Starship 3 Reentry 

Starship 3 reentry. Enough said.

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.


  • Chris Stott, CEO and Cofounder of Lonestar Data Holdings, talks about the first data center on the Moon, marking a significant step towards lunar commercialization and data management in space.
  • FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation Kelvin B. Coleman discusses the establishment of a committee for input on the part 450 launch and reentry license.

  • Holly Pascal, NASA Engineer and Founder of the Women's Aerospace Network, shares her vision for empowering women in the aerospace sector.

  • Steve Gizinski, Managing Director of Viasat Government Services, discusses network upgrades to enhance maritime communications.

  • Dr. Bill McGann, CEO of Quantum Computing Inc., discusses the impact of quantum computing on the space industry.


Redwire Corporation Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2023 Financial Results

  • What: Redwire Corporation announced a 51.9% revenue increase in 2023, with a significant backlog indicating future growth.
  • Why: This financial performance highlights Redwire's expanding role in the space sector and its potential for continued growth and innovation.

Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC Investigates Adequacy of Price and Process in Sale of Astra Space, Inc.

  • What: A legal review is requested for the proposed buyout of Astra Space, focusing on the adequacy of the sale process and price.
  • Why: The investigation reflects investor concerns about fairness and transparency in significant business transactions, crucial for maintaining shareholder trust and market integrity.

Simera Sense Raises €13.5m in Growth Investment Round

  • What: Simera Sense has raised €13.5 million for the production and development of high-resolution optical imaging solutions for Earth observation.
  • Why: This investment highlights the increasing importance of Earth observation technologies for a wide range of applications, from climate monitoring to security, and underscores the sector's growth potential.

Sierra Space Axelerator™ Unveiled: Pioneering the Future of Defense Technology

  • What: Sierra Space announces the Sierra Space Axelerator™, an incubator for defense technology innovations.
  • Why: This initiative represents a significant effort to accelerate the development and deployment of cutting-edge defense technologies, potentially transforming national security strategies and capabilities.

Redwire Partners with Eli Lilly and Company on Second Spaceflight Mission

  • What: Redwire and Eli Lilly are partnering for a second spaceflight mission to further research on chronic diseases by utilizing microgravity for pharmaceutical manufacturing.
  • Why: This partnership aims to leverage the unique conditions of space to improve drug discovery and development, potentially leading to breakthroughs in treatments for chronic diseases. It underscores the growing importance of space-based research in advancing medical science.


FCC Proposes Framework to Facilitate Supplemental Coverage From Space

  • What: The FCC has proposed a regulatory framework to support collaborations between satellite operators and terrestrial service providers for supplemental coverage from space.
  • Why: This proposal aims to enhance global connectivity, including emergency response capabilities, by leveraging satellite technology, representing a significant advancement in communications infrastructure.

FAA FY 2025 Budget Request

  • What: The FAA requests a 36% budget increase for its Office of Commercial Space Transportation, aiming for $57.13 million in FY 2025.
  • Why: This budget increase reflects the growing pace of commercial space launches and the need for enhanced regulatory oversight to ensure public safety and support the expanding commercial space industry.

Call for Memoranda: Draft Kenya Space Bill 2024

  • What: The Kenya Space Agency is developing the Kenya Space Bill 2024 to guide the country's space sector, seeking public input.
  • Why: This initiative represents a significant step towards establishing a legal framework for Kenya's burgeoning space sector, aiming to harness space science and technology's potential while adhering to international standards.

FY 2025 Budget Request - NASA

  • What: NASA has requested a $25.384 billion budget for FY 2025, maintaining the previous year's level amid constraints from the debt ceiling agreement.
  • Why: The budget reflects the challenges of balancing ambitious space exploration goals with fiscal constraints, highlighting the need for efficient allocation of resources to maintain the U.S.'s leadership in space.


Mining Helium-3 on the Moon Has Been Talked About Forever—Now a Company Will Try

  • What: Interlune announces $15M in new investments to mine helium-3 on the Moon, a resource rare on Earth with potential energy applications.
  • Why: The pursuit of helium-3 mining on the Moon represents a significant step towards utilizing extraterrestrial resources, potentially revolutionizing energy industries on Earth.

NASA Awards Grants for Lunar Instrumentation

  • What: NASA provides grants to support the development of instruments for future lunar missions.
  • Why: These grants are pivotal for advancing lunar exploration technologies, supporting both the Artemis program and commercial lunar payload services.

Rhea Space, Founded by Johns Hopkins Alumni, Receives $750,000 NASA Grant

  • What: Rhea Space Activity received a $750,000 grant from NASA to test its autonomous module in cislunar space, as part of NASA’s TechFlights solicitation.
  • Why: This grant underscores the importance of developing navigation and communication technologies for cislunar space, a key area for future lunar exploration and the Artemis missions.


China Concludes Selection of Fourth Batch of Astronauts for Future Space Missions

  • What: China has completed the selection of its fourth batch of astronauts, including candidates from Hong Kong and Macao.
  • Why: This expansion of China's astronaut corps underscores the country's ambitious plans for future space exploration and international representation.

NASA Uses World’s Fastest Supercomputer to Simulate Mars Crew Landings

  • What: NASA employs the world's fastest supercomputer to simulate crewed Mars landings, enhancing mission planning and safety.
  • Why: This technological application highlights the critical role of advanced computing in solving complex problems in space exploration, improving the feasibility and safety of future Mars missions.

Analyzing the Psychological Impact of the First Mars Habitat Simulation

  • What: A study on the psychological impacts of Mars habitat simulations offers insights into the challenges of long-duration space missions.
  • Why: Understanding the psychological dynamics of crewed missions to Mars is essential for the success of future interplanetary travel, emphasizing the need for comprehensive preparation and support for astronauts.


SpaceX Starship Fully Integrated Testflight 3 a Huge Success

  • What: SpaceX's Starship completed significant portions of its third test flight but was lost during re-entry.
  • Why: This test underscores the complexities and challenges of developing fully reusable space vehicles, essential for reducing costs and increasing access to space.

Two Chinese Satellites Fail to Enter Orbit After Abnormality

  • What: Two Chinese satellites failed to reach orbit due to an upper stage abnormality.
  • Why: This event highlights the inherent risks of space launches, emphasizing the importance of reliability and the need for continuous improvement in launch technology.

Rocket Lab Successfully Launches 45th Electron Mission, 4th for Longtime Partner Synspective

  • What: Rocket Lab's Electron rocket successfully launched the Strix-3 synthetic aperture radar satellite for Synspective, marking the company's 45th mission.
  • Why: This launch enhances Synspective's Earth observation constellation, showcasing the reliability and efficiency of commercial space companies in deploying satellites that contribute to global monitoring and disaster response capabilities.

Japan's First Private-Sector Rocket Launch Attempt Explodes Shortly After Takeoff

  • What: Space One's Kairos rocket, aimed at becoming Japan's first commercial rocket to reach orbit, exploded shortly after takeoff.
  • Why: The incident highlights the inherent challenges and risks of space launch operations, underscoring the importance of safety measures and the potential for learning from failures to advance commercial spaceflight.

SAIC Receives $444 Million Contract to Provide System Modernization for Space Launch Ranges

  • What: SAIC has been awarded a $444 million contract by the US Space Force to modernize space launch ranges, including Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Vandenberg Space Force Base.
  • Why: This investment underscores the importance of modern infrastructure to support the increasing pace of space launches. Enhancing these facilities will streamline launch processes and support the broader goals of national security and space exploration.


NASA Awards Environmental, Safety, Health, Mission Assurance Contract

  • What: NASA has awarded a $125.4 million contract to Bastion Technologies for support in environmental, safety, health, and mission assurance services.
  • Why: This contract underscores NASA's commitment to sustainability and safety in its operations, highlighting the importance of environmental and health considerations in space exploration.


ESA Announces Reusable Upper Stage Demonstrator Project

  • What: ESA is developing a reusable upper stage demonstrator to advance launch vehicle technology.
  • Why: The project aims to reduce launch costs and environmental impact, reinforcing ESA's commitment to innovation and sustainability in space operations.

QuickLogic and Zero-Error Systems Partner to Deliver Radiation-Tolerant eFPGA IP for Commercial Space Applications

  • What: Partnership announced to develop radiation-tolerant embedded FPGA (eFPGA) technology for space applications.
  • Why: Enhancing the resilience of space technology to radiation is crucial for the reliability and longevity of space missions, promoting more robust commercial space activities.

SatixFy’s Space Chips Advance into Customer Testing Stage

  • What: SatixFy's advanced space chips for satellite communications have moved into customer testing.
  • Why: Progress in satellite communication technology is essential for expanding global connectivity and enabling more efficient space operations.

Sidus Space Receives Signals from LizzieSat™ After Successful Launch and Deployment

  • What: Sidus Space confirms successful communication with LizzieSat™, deployed during SpaceX's Transporter-10 mission.
  • Why: This achievement underscores the growing capabilities and resilience of commercial satellites in providing valuable data across various industries.

POLARIS Spaceplane Update

  • What: The POLARIS MIRA test vehicle was damaged during a test flight, affecting the company's development of reusable space launch and hypersonic transport systems.
  • Why: Despite the setback, POLARIS's response demonstrates resilience in space technology development, a critical trait for innovating and advancing new forms of space transportation.

Request for Information (RFI) Space Domain Awareness (SDA) Geosynchronous Satellite

  • What: The Space Systems Command seeks information for a constellation to track and analyze geosynchronous satellites for space domain awareness.
  • Why: Enhancing geosynchronous satellite tracking capabilities is critical for maintaining space security and situational awareness, essential for both defense and commercial space operations.

AST SpaceMobile Updates Licensing Administration of its Satellite Constellation

  • What: AST SpaceMobile has updated its constellation filing to advance its plans for a space-based cellular network.
  • Why: This move underscores the evolving regulatory landscape for space-based services and highlights the potential for direct-to-device communications, revolutionizing global connectivity.

Lumen Orbit Emerges from Stealth and Raises $2.4M to Put Data Centers in Space

  • What: Lumen Orbit has raised $2.4 million for its plan to deploy satellites for space-based data processing, with a satellite demonstrator launching in May 2025.
  • Why: The move towards space-based data centers reflects the growing demand for data processing capabilities and the potential of space to offer novel solutions for data management challenges.

Stratolaunch Celebrates First Powered Flight of TA-1 Test Vehicle

  • What: Stratolaunch completed the first powered flight of the Talon-A test vehicle, TA-1, marking a significant milestone in developing reusable hypersonic test capabilities.
  • Why: The success of TA-1's test flight signals a leap forward in hypersonic technology, which has implications for national defense, space exploration, and potentially commercial aviation.


Space Force Chief Says Shift to Warfighting Posture Continues Despite Slight Budgetary Decrease

  • What: The Space Force continues its shift to a warfighting posture despite a slight budget decrease for FY 2025.
  • Why: This strategic focus ensures the U.S. maintains its competitive edge in space, emphasizing the critical role of space assets in national security.

Space Force Prioritizes Missile Warning, Tracking Satellites in Fiscal 2025 Budget

  • What: The US Space Force's FY 2025 budget includes $4.7 billion for missile warning and tracking satellites, with a total request of $29.4 billion.
  • Why: This allocation emphasizes the growing importance of space-based assets in national defense, particularly for early missile detection and tracking, underscoring the strategic shift towards space in modern warfare.

BlackSky Secures Back-to-Back U.S. Air Force Contracts

  • What: BlackSky has been awarded a $3.5 million contract by the US Air Force Research Laboratory to provide satellite imagery and analysis for global moving target engagement.
  • Why: This reinforces the growing reliance on commercial Earth observation capabilities for defense and intelligence applications, highlighting the sector's strategic importance and potential for growth.

AFWERX, SpaceWERX Announce Strategic Funding Increase Selections at South by Southwest

  • What: The US Space Force and Air Force innovation arms, AFWERX and SpaceWERX, announced significant Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) selections, with funding amounts ranging from $3 million to $15 million per project.
  • Why: This initiative is crucial for advancing space technology and defense capabilities by supporting small businesses and fostering innovation. It signifies a proactive approach to maintaining technological superiority in space.

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