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Signals and Space | V2 | Issue 13 | 04.01.24

Space sustainability and data management. SLIM has risen. FCC says no to SpaceX. Boeing sues Virgin Galactic. UKSA looks to grow the satellite communications. And more!



Good morning,

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.


  • Melissa Quinn, Managing Director of Slingshot Aerospace Ltd., discusses the company's international expansion and their focus on providing innovative space solutions.

  • Bryce Kennedy, President of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals (ACSP), their new initiatives and workforce burnout.

  • Brad Appel, Chief Technology Officer at Ursa Major, talks about engine manufacturing and their new Draper engine.

  • Dr Elaina Hyde, Director of York University’s Allan I Carswell Observatory, discusses the upcoming April 8 solar eclipse in North America.

  • Andrew Williams from the European Southern Observatory discusses the International Astronomical Union's new position paper on mitigating satellite constellations' impact on astronomy.


Japanese lunar lander company ispace raises $53.5 million in stock sale

  • What: ispace, a commercial lunar landing company, raises $53.5 million through a stock sale to fund its upcoming missions.
  • Why: This fundraising effort highlights the growing investor confidence in lunar exploration ventures and ispace's commitment to overcoming previous setbacks and advancing lunar exploration.

Planet Reports Financial Results for Fourth Quarter and Full Fiscal Year 2024

  • What: Planet reports a 15% increase in annual revenue and announces a significant contract extension with Carbon Mapper for hyperspectral data provision.
  • Why: Planet's financial growth and the extended partnership underscore the increasing importance of Earth observation data for environmental monitoring and the strong market demand for Planet's satellite imagery services.

SatixFy Announces Full Year 2023 Results

  • What: SatixFy releases its full-year financial results, showing a slight revenue increase but a decrease in gross profit.
  • Why: The financial performance reflects the challenges and competitive nature of the satellite communications market, as well as SatixFy's strategic investments aimed at long-term growth.

C-LEO programme kicks off with £60 million for satellite constellation ideas

  • What: The UK Space Agency announces a £60 million funding initiative for UK-based satellite communications innovators to develop satellite constellation capabilities.
  • Why: This funding aims to bolster the UK's leading position in satellite manufacturing and innovation, supporting the country's ambition to expand its space industry and technological capabilities.

Polaris And Aero Challenge Group Sign Strategic Cooperation And Investment Agreement

  • What: POLARIS Spaceplanes and Aero Challenge Group enter a strategic cooperation and investment agreement to advance European spaceplane development.
  • Why: This partnership highlights the growing interest and investment in reusable spacecraft technologies, crucial for reducing the cost of access to space and fostering sustainable space exploration.

Sidus Space Reports Full Year 2023 Financial Results and Provides Business Update

  • What: Sidus Space reports its financial results for 2023 and updates on the progress of its LizzieSat constellation.
  • Why: The report underlines Sidus Space's commitment to expanding its satellite constellation, emphasizing the role of 3D-printed, AI-enhanced satellites in advancing space-based data acquisition and analytics.

Virgin Galactic Sued by Boeing Over Trade Secrets

  • What: Boeing and its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences sue Virgin Galactic for $25 million over alleged retention of trade secrets related to the design of a new "mothership."
  • Why: This lawsuit highlights the competitive and proprietary nature of the aerospace industry, emphasizing the importance of intellectual property rights in the development of new aerospace technologies.

Ingersoll Rand to buy ILC Dover for about $2.33 billion in life sciences push

  • What: Ingersoll Rand announces its acquisition of ILC Dover for approximately $2.33 billion, aiming to establish a life sciences platform within its Precision and Science Technologies segment.
  • Why: This acquisition signifies a strategic expansion into the life sciences sector, leveraging ILC Dover's expertise in spacesuit design and pharmaceutical safety to diversify Ingersoll Rand's portfolio and strengthen its position in high-growth markets.

Spire Global Partners with Hancom Group in First Commercial Satellite Mission for South Korea

  • What: Spire Global announces a partnership with Hancom Group for South Korea's first commercial satellite mission, focusing on agricultural and image analysis applications.
  • Why: This partnership marks a significant milestone in South Korea's space industry, showcasing the growing global collaboration in space technology and its applications in various sectors.

Spire Global Announces Closing of $30 Million Registered Direct Offering

  • What: Spire Global closes a $30 million registered direct offering of Class A common stock, with plans to use the net proceeds for debt repayment, working capital, and general corporate purposes.
  • Why: This financial move highlights Spire Global's efforts to strengthen its balance sheet and secure capital for expansion, reflecting the company's ambition to solidify its position in the space data and analytics market.

Aerospace Shifts Corporate HQ to DC area; investing $100M in EL Segundo campus

  • What: The Aerospace Corporation is relocating its headquarters to the DC area while investing $100 million in its El Segundo campus to enhance engineering, research, and laboratory capabilities.
  • Why: This strategic move aims to position Aerospace closer to key customers and stakeholders, fostering collaboration and innovation in the space sector.

Launching a dedicated MicroGEO communications satellite for Argentina

  • What: Astranis and Orbith are partnering to provide a dedicated MicroGEO communications satellite for Argentina, set to launch in 2025.
  • Why: This partnership underscores the growing demand for dedicated satellite services in emerging markets and the potential of MicroGEO satellites to meet specific regional communication needs.


Systems, Technologies, and Emerging Capabilities Broad Agency Announcement

  • What: The Space Development Agency seeks proposals for technologies to remove inactive satellites from low Earth orbit at the end of their service life.
  • Why: This initiative aims to mitigate space debris and ensure the sustainability of space operations, highlighting the importance of responsible space exploration and utilization.

The Next Generation of Cancer Drugs Will Be Made in Space

  • What: Research suggests that the microgravity environment of space could be key to developing more effective cancer drugs.
  • Why: This research opens new avenues for pharmaceutical development, potentially leading to breakthroughs in cancer treatment through space-based experiments.

CSIRO 3D mapping tech blasts off for International Space Station

  • What: CSIRO's 3D mapping technology has been launched to the International Space Station (ISS), developed in partnership with Boeing and supported by the ISS National Laboratory and NASA Ames Research Centre.
  • Why: This technology aims to enhance the capabilities of unmanned outposts and space habitats, illustrating the ongoing collaboration between national space agencies and private sector partners to advance space exploration and utilization.

Apex Completes First Payload Commissioning, Downlinks “Satellite Selfie,” as Part of Its Aries Call to Adventure Mission

  • What: Apex successfully completes the first payload commissioning of the Aries platform, demonstrating end-to-end capabilities by downlinking a "satellite selfie."
  • Why: This achievement not only marks a significant milestone for Apex in proving its technological capabilities but also showcases the potential of new satellite technologies to provide innovative solutions and services in the space industry.

Venus Aerospace Achieves Successful Inaugural Supersonic Drone Flight

  • What: Venus Aerospace conducts a successful inaugural flight of its supersonic drone, marking a significant achievement in its development of high-speed aerospace technologies.
  • Why: The successful flight represents a key step forward in the pursuit of supersonic and hypersonic flight technologies, potentially transforming future air travel and space access by significantly reducing travel times.

Orbit Fab RAFTI Fueling Ports Flight Qualified and Ready for In-Space and Launch Site Fueling

  • What: Orbit Fab has flight-qualified its RAFTI fueling ports for in-space and launch site fueling, planning to produce about 100 RAFTIs this year for customers including the Space Force and Astroscale.
  • Why: The development of in-space refueling technology is crucial for extending the life of satellites, reducing space debris, and enabling more sustainable and flexible space operations.

Optical Fiber Production

  • What: An investigation aboard the ISS demonstrated a new manufacturing technology for producing high-quality, longer optical fibers in space, yielding over seven miles of fiber.
  • Why: This breakthrough could significantly impact telecommunications, medicine, and cybersecurity, demonstrating the unique advantages of manufacturing in the microgravity environment of space.


Defense officials tease new commercial space strategies

  • What: The Pentagon and Space Force hint at forthcoming commercial space strategies emphasizing the role of private companies in national defense.
  • Why: This strategic shift aims to harness commercial space innovations for defense purposes, underlining the critical importance of cybersecurity and operational reliability in space assets during conflict.

Space Force sends Congress $1 billion list of unfunded projects

  • What: The Space Force has submitted a $1 billion list of unfunded projects to Congress, highlighting the need for additional funding to enhance space infrastructure resilience, particularly in position navigation and timing (PNT) systems.
  • Why: This move underscores the critical importance of securing additional funding to ensure the United States maintains and enhances its strategic advantage in space, a domain increasingly seen as vital for national security.


SpaceX Gen2 MSS Application Dismissed as Unacceptable for Filing

  • What: The FCC has dismissed SpaceX's application for its Gen2 Starlink constellation to use specific mobile satellite services spectrum, citing conflicts with existing licenses held by Globalstar and Dish.
  • Why: This decision underscores the challenges of modernizing satellite spectrum policies to accommodate the rapidly expanding number of satellites and the importance of updating regulatory frameworks to support new technologies.

Private Space-Station Maker Sued Over Claims Radio Bands Misused

  • What: Vast Space is being sued by a former engineer over allegations of improper use of radio frequencies in the design of the Haven-1 space station.
  • Why: This lawsuit highlights the critical importance of adhering to regulatory standards in the use of radio frequencies, a fundamental aspect of space operations, and the potential legal and ethical implications of non-compliance.

Joint Statement of the Second Meeting of the U.S.-France Comprehensive Dialogue on Space

  • What: The U.S. and France reinforce their space collaboration, focusing on civil, commercial, and national security space activities.
  • Why: This continued collaboration underscores the strategic importance of international partnerships in addressing global challenges such as climate change, enhancing space security, and fostering commercial space growth.

la France prête à subventionner massivement ses mini-fusées

  • What: France is set to announce substantial subsidies for mini-launcher projects, with four startups selected to receive a combined €400 million through the France 2030 initiative.
  • Why: This initiative reflects France's strategic investment in new space technologies and its ambition to become a leading player in the rapidly evolving small satellite launch market.

Governor Abbott Launches Texas Space Commission

  • What: Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the creation of the Texas Space Commission to support the state's space industry.
  • Why: The commission aims to position Texas as a leading hub for space exploration and commerce, highlighting the state's commitment to supporting the growth of the space sector.


NASA astronauts to make history as 1st Boeing Starliner crew

  • What: NASA selects astronauts for the first crewed mission aboard Boeing's Starliner spacecraft.
  • Why: This mission represents a significant milestone in commercial human spaceflight, advancing NASA's goals for low-Earth orbit commercialization and partnership with private space companies.

Space For Humanity Announce Support Of Amanda Nguyen Launch To Space. First Vietnamese Woman To Fly To Space

  • What: Space For Humanity supports Amanda Nguyen's launch to space, marking her as the first Vietnamese woman to fly to space.
  • Why: This milestone underscores the increasing diversity and accessibility of space travel, highlighting the role of private and nonprofit organizations in expanding opportunities for underrepresented groups in the space sector.


NZDF launches hardware into space

  • What: The New Zealand Defence Force successfully launches an experimental satellite payload, "Korimako," to conduct space communications research.
  • Why: This launch signifies NZDF's entry into space-based research, showcasing the increasing involvement of national defense forces in leveraging space technology for communication and surveillance purposes.

Zimbabwe Gets Ready to Launch Three Satellites

  • What: Zimbabwe plans to launch three satellites, including the ZimSat-2 Earth Observation satellite, in collaboration with Japan.
  • Why: This initiative demonstrates Zimbabwe's ambition to enhance its technological capabilities and leverage satellite technology for developmental and research purposes, marking a significant step for African nations in space exploration.

ULA Delta-4 Heavy NROL-70

  • What: The upcoming final launch of ULA's Delta-4 Heavy rocket for the NROL-70 mission is closely watched due to challenging weather conditions.
  • Why: This mission marks the end of an era for the Delta-4 Heavy, emphasizing its significant role in national security and the transition to next-generation launch vehicles.


Japanese probe wakes up after second lunar night

  • What: JAXA's SLIM probe unexpectedly awakens for its third lunar day after a challenging landing on the Moon.
  • Why: SLIM's survival and operational status after two lunar nights highlight the resilience of lunar exploration technology and contribute valuable data to our understanding of the Moon's surface and environment.

China's Queqiao-2 relay satellite enters lunar orbit

  • What: China's Queqiao-2 relay satellite has successfully entered lunar orbit, part of China's mission to the far side of the Moon and its deep space radio astronomy observatory.
  • Why: This achievement highlights China's advancing capabilities in lunar and deep space exploration, emphasizing the strategic importance of the Moon in future space endeavors.


Eclipse 2024 Citizen Science

  • What: NASA launches a citizen science project for the April 8 eclipse, inviting participants to contribute to solar research.
  • Why: This initiative emphasizes the role of public engagement in scientific research, highlighting the importance of citizen science in enhancing our understanding of solar phenomena.

Euclid Space Telescope's Vision Instantly Restored by De-Icing Operation

  • What: The European Space Agency successfully restores the vision of the Euclid space telescope through a de-icing operation.
  • Why: This operation underscores the challenges and solutions associated with space missions, highlighting the importance of innovative techniques in maintaining the functionality of space-based observatories.

Astronomers unveil strong magnetic fields spiraling at the edge of Milky Way’s central black hole

  • What: Astronomers discover strong magnetic fields at the edge of the Milky Way's central black hole, providing new insights into black hole environments.
  • Why: This discovery enhances our understanding of the complex dynamics surrounding black holes, contributing to our knowledge of galaxy formation and evolution.

A Letter to the Chandra Community

  • What: Budget cuts threaten the Chandra X-ray Observatory's operations, potentially reducing its activities to minimal or decommissioning status.
  • Why: The potential reduction of Chandra's operations highlights the challenges facing space science programs amid budget constraints, underscoring the importance of sustained investment in scientific research for advancing our understanding of the universe.


China launches new satellite for environmental monitoring

  • What: China successfully launches the Yunhai-3 02 satellite to enhance environmental monitoring capabilities.
  • Why: This launch underscores China's commitment to leveraging space technology for Earth observation, crucial for addressing environmental challenges and supporting disaster prevention.

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