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Signals and Space | V2 | Issue 12 | 03.25.24

India’s push into the reusable landing vehicle market. Trainspotting on the Moon. Cyber threats to aerospace on the rise. All is fair in space and war. And more!



Good morning,

I want to highlight two impactful interviews we published this week. We had journalist and author Rebecca Boyle on the podcast Friday and Saturday. She illuminates the profound impact the Moon has had on Earth, evolution, and humanity. It's a fantastic, approachable discussion that provides more concrete evidence for why the space industry matters to life here on earth.

We also spoke with Geoffrey Mattson, CEO of Xage, a satellite cybersecurity company. You may recall they landed a big Space Force cybersecurity contract back in September. He joins us to dive into the critical nexus of space tech and cybersecurity. It was refreshing to hear his take on where and how these two communities intersect.

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.


  • Rebecca Boyle, science journalist and author, shares insights on how the Moon has shaped Earth's evolution and influenced human development in her book “Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us Who We Are”.

  • Geoffrey Mattson, CEO of Xage Security, discusses CISA's 2024 Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative priorities and their relevance to the space industry, emphasizing the crucial intersection of space technology and cybersecurity.

  • Alex Pospekhov and Alexey Shirobokov of Mission Space discuss their company's focus on space weather monitoring and its implications for satellite operations and safety.

  • Nick Searra, Executive Director of the Interstellar Foundation, discusses continuing the concept of the golden record for interstellar communication.

  • Gianluca Redolfi, Chief Business Officer at Sateliot, discusses leveraging 5G core in AWS to interconnect with Mobile Operators, aiming to be the first to offer global satellite IoT connectivity using 5G technology.


The Aviation and Aerospace Sectors Face Skyrocketing Cyber Threats

  • What: The aerospace sector has seen a more than 600% increase in cybersecurity attacks in 2022, attributed to its increased interconnectedness and the strategic importance of space assets.
  • Why: Understanding the cybersecurity threats is crucial for professionals to appreciate the evolving challenges in protecting space infrastructure, which is increasingly becoming a target due to its critical role in global communications and security.


Intuitive Machines improves cash position to best since IPO after historic moon mission

  • What: Intuitive Machines reported an improved financial position following its successful commercial lunar lander mission, with significant increases in cash balance and investment.
  • Why: This financial milestone demonstrates the viability and economic potential of commercial lunar exploration, setting a precedent for future missions and investments in space exploration.

SpaceX to sell satellite laser links that speed in-space communication to rivals

  • What: SpaceX plans to sell its satellite laser links, used by Starlink for in-space data transfer, to other companies, potentially enhancing global internet coverage.
  • Why: Offering satellite laser links to competitors signifies a major shift in space communication technologies, potentially revolutionizing data transfer and connectivity across the globe.

Intelsat Advances Multi-Orbit Strategy with Expansion of Eutelsat Group LEO Agreement

  • What: Intelsat expands its partnership with Eutelsat to develop Next Generation OneWeb constellation, investing $250 million for LEO service with an option for an additional $250 million.
  • Why: This collaboration represents a significant step towards enhanced global connectivity, highlighting the growing importance of multi-orbit satellite networks in meeting worldwide communication needs.

SAIC Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Fiscal Year 2024 Results

  • What: SAIC reports mixed financial results for Q4 and the full fiscal year 2024, with a focus on new federal contracts to improve future performance.
  • Why: SAIC's financial outcomes provide insights into the challenges and opportunities within the space and defense contracting market, emphasizing the importance of adaptability and strategic contract management for sustained growth.


Astralintu and D-Orbit Sign MOU to Bring Space Cloud Services and Its Benefits to Latin America

  • What: Astralintu and D-Orbit signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide space cloud services to Latin America, leveraging space technology for regional development.
  • Why: This partnership aims to empower Latin American countries with advanced space technologies, addressing environmental and societal challenges through improved data access and analysis.

Mission X Update #2: Fly, Fix, Fly

  • What: True Anomaly provided an update on its Jackal satellites, with ongoing efforts to address technical challenges encountered during their mission.
  • Why: This mission exemplifies the iterative process of space technology development, highlighting the importance of adaptability and continuous improvement in the rapidly evolving space industry.

NanoAvionics selects Neuraspace for Enhanced Safety and Sustainability in Space Operations

  • What: NanoAvionics partners with Neuraspace to incorporate AI-based space traffic management solutions for its satellite missions.
  • Why: The collaboration highlights the increasing need for advanced space traffic management to ensure safety and sustainability in the rapidly growing satellite industry.

Sidus Space Establishes Two-Way Communications with State-of-the-Art Hybrid 3D-Printed LS-1 Satellite

  • What: Sidus Space achieved two-way communications with its innovative 3D-printed satellite, LizzieSat, aimed at enhancing earth observation and geospatial AI.
  • Why: This development showcases the potential of 3D printing and AI in creating more efficient and versatile satellite technologies for earth observation and data analysis.

Return of the Ritonavir: A Study on the Stability of Pharmaceuticals Processed in Orbit

  • What: Varda Space released results from its orbital drug manufacturing mission, demonstrating the successful crystallization of the HIV drug ritonavir in space.
  • Why: This achievement marks a significant step towards commercializing microgravity drug development, offering potential breakthroughs in pharmaceutical manufacturing techniques.

Advanced Space Demonstrates Artificial Intelligence for Spacecraft Autonomy at the Moon

  • What: Advanced Space successfully tested machine learning software for autonomous navigation in cislunar space with the CAPSTONE spacecraft.
  • Why: This demonstration paves the way for transformative advancements in spacecraft autonomy, enhancing future exploratory missions and satellite operations beyond Earth's orbit.

ESA kicks off two new navigation missions

  • What: The European Space Agency initiates two new missions, Genesis and a LEO-PNT demonstrator, to advance satellite navigation technologies.
  • Why: These missions aim to maintain Europe's leadership in satellite navigation, highlighting the strategic importance of navigation technology for future exploration, commercial, and security applications.

Terran Orbital’s Milani Satellite Delivered to the European Space Agency for Hera Mission

  • What: The Hera Milani satellite, developed by Tyvak International, a subsidiary of Terran Orbital, has been delivered to ESA for a mission to study the Didymos asteroid.
  • Why: This mission demonstrates the capability of nanosatellites in deep-space missions, marking a significant milestone in using small satellites for advanced scientific research and interplanetary exploration.

Press Release: Benchmark Electric Propulsion Thrusters On Orbit And Poised For First Fire

  • What: Benchmark Space Systems has deployed its electric propulsion thrusters on orbit, with a planned first fire aboard a cubesat.
  • Why: This development represents a significant advancement in satellite propulsion technology, offering more efficient and maneuverable options for satellite operators, which could revolutionize satellite deployment and longevity in orbit.


A Suspicious Pattern Alarming the Ukrainian Military

  • What: Ukraine's military raises concerns about the use of US-based satellite imagery by Russia in the conflict between the two nations.
  • Why: This situation highlights the complex interplay between commercial space assets and military operations, stressing the need for space industry professionals to consider the ethical and security implications of their technologies.

Ready for take-off: A look inside the IDF's new Space Directorate Unit

  • What: Israel's Defense Forces have established a new Space Directorate Unit to consolidate missions beyond Earth's atmosphere.
  • Why: The formation of this unit marks a significant step in recognizing the strategic importance of space in national defense and security, indicating a trend towards increasing militarization of space.

Kymeta Begins Fulfilling Customer Orders of its First Multi-Orbit, On-the-Move Flat-Panel Antenna for Military Users

  • What: Kymeta has started delivering its innovative flat-panel antennas designed for multi-orbit, on-the-move connectivity to military clients.
  • Why: This advancement highlights the ongoing technological innovations aimed at enhancing communication capabilities for military operations, underscoring the strategic importance of reliable, adaptable communication solutions in modern defense strategies.


Mars Sample Return Dominates House Hearing on NASA Science

  • What: Discussions on the Mars Sample Return mission dominated a House Science Committee hearing, with concerns over budget and delays impacting the program's progress.
  • Why: The mission's potential to return Martian samples to Earth for analysis is pivotal for astrobiological research, emphasizing the need for sustained investment and planning in space science initiatives.

NASA Sees Progress on Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef Life Support System

  • What: Blue Origin's Orbital Reef project successfully completed testing milestones for its life support system under a NASA Space Act Agreement.
  • Why: This progress is critical for establishing new commercial habitats in low Earth orbit, furthering NASA's goals for human space exploration and commercial participation in space.

US and Japan seek UN resolution calling on all nations to ban nuclear weapons in outer space

  • What: The US and Japan are co-sponsoring a UN resolution to reaffirm a ban on nuclear weapons in space, in response to concerns over anti-satellite capabilities potentially involving nuclear weapons.
  • Why: This move underscores the importance of maintaining peace and security in outer space, reflecting space professionals' interests in safeguarding space as a domain for peaceful exploration and utilization.

NOAA selects system integrator for the Traffic Coordination System for Space

  • What: NOAA has awarded Parsons a $15.5M contract for system integration and cloud management of the Traffic Coordination System for Space, aimed at enhancing space situational awareness and traffic coordination.
  • Why: This development underscores the growing efforts to manage space traffic more effectively, highlighting the importance of maintaining space situational awareness for the safety and sustainability of space operations.


Companies Selected for DIU Orbital Logistics Vehicle Project

  • What: The Defense Innovation Unit selected companies including Blue Origin, Space Logistics by Northrop Grumman, and Spacebilt for orbital logistics services for missions beyond low Earth orbit.
  • Why: This collaboration underscores the growing interest in extending logistical capabilities to geostationary and other orbits, enhancing the strategic and commercial opportunities in space.

ISRO successfully conducts second Pushpak RLV landing experiment

  • What: ISRO successfully tested its Pushpak Reusable Landing Vehicle, achieving autonomous precision landing from an off-nominal position.
  • Why: This achievement marks a significant milestone towards making space travel more sustainable and affordable, highlighting India's growing capabilities in space technology.

Rocket Lab Successfully Launches Fifth National Security Mission for NRO

  • What: Rocket Lab launched the NROL-123 mission, also known as Live and Let Fly, for the National Reconnaissance Office from NASA Wallops in Virginia.
  • Why: This launch underscores the growing role of commercial launch providers in national security, highlighting the importance of rapid, flexible access to space for intelligence and reconnaissance.

China building giant hypersonic railgun for space launches

  • What: China is developing a hypersonic railgun to launch its Tengyun spaceplane, aiming for hypersonic flight and electromagnetic launch capabilities.
  • Why: This project signifies a leap in launch technology, potentially reducing the cost and environmental impact of space launches, while also underscoring the strategic competition in technological advancements for space access.

The stages for the inaugural Ariane 6 flight currently being assembled

  • What: Arianne Group is assembling the main and upper stages of the Ariane 6 rocket for its inaugural launch, expected this summer.
  • Why: The Ariane 6 launch is anticipated with interest for its potential to offer more competitive and versatile launch services, highlighting the evolving landscape of the global launch market.


China launches relay satellite Queqiao-2 for Earth-moon communication

  • What: China launched the Queqiao-2 satellite to facilitate communication between Earth and an upcoming lunar mission on the far side of the moon.
  • Why: The launch highlights China's advancing capabilities in deep-space communication, critical for supporting its ambitious lunar exploration goals and establishing a strategic presence in cislunar space.

Northrop Grumman to conceptualize Moon trains for DARPA

  • What: DARPA tasks Northrop Grumman to explore the concept of a lunar railroad as part of the LunA-10 project, aiming to support long-term, scalable, and interoperable systems on the Moon.
  • Why: This initiative is a step towards establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon, underscoring the need for innovative logistics and infrastructure solutions in supporting lunar exploration and commerce.


Airbus continues to collaborate with NASA to monitor climate change from Space

  • What: Airbus is awarded a contract to design and build the GRACE-C twin spacecraft by NASA’s JPL to monitor Earth’s shifting water masses and contribute to climate change research.
  • Why: This ongoing collaboration between NASA and Airbus on the GRACE-C Mission underscores the critical role of satellite technology in understanding and combating climate change on a global scale.

Spire Global to Enhance AI-Driven Weather Prediction in Collaboration with NVIDIA

  • What: Spire Global partners with NVIDIA to advance AI-driven weather prediction using Spire’s Radio Occultation data and NVIDIA’s Earth-2 Cloud platform.
  • Why: This collaboration highlights the growing intersection of space technology and artificial intelligence in improving Earth observation and weather forecasting, with significant implications for climate research and disaster preparedness.

First Two WorldView Legion Satellites Arrive at Launch Base

  • What: Maxar Technologies prepares for the launch of its WorldView Legion satellites, aiming to enhance Earth observation capabilities.
  • Why: The launch marks a significant step in advancing Earth observation technology, offering space industry professionals insights into how increased imaging capabilities can drive data analysis and decision-making.

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