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Signals and Space | V2 | Issue 14 | 04.08.24

NASA picks partners for a lunar terrain vehicle. DoD’s new plan for commercial space integration. Canada to boost space-based broadband connectivity. And more!



Good morning,

Happy Eclipse Day to all those who celebrate. I'll likely be stuck inside, but for a very good reason. The team and I are on the floor of the 39th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. If you're in town, come visit us at the AWS Booth, #1036, in the North Hall. We'll be covering the conference live all week with our friends at AWS Aerospace and Satellite. Hope to see you there.

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.


  • Richard Cooper, Vice President of Strategic Communications and Outreach at the Space Foundation, previews the 39th Space Symposium and discusses the event's significance.

  • André Kearns, Marketing Director at Amazon Web Services Aerospace and Satellite Division, discusses the AWS in Orbit podcast series at the 39th Space Symposium.

  • Nick Shave, Managing Director of Astroscale UK, talks about addressing the urgent issue of space debris.

  • Joseph Horvath, CEO of Nova Space, discusses workforce development strategies to attract and retain talent in the space industry.

  • Eleftherios Kosmas, Vice-Chairman at the Libre Space Foundation, discusses the foundation's collaboration with companies on open-source space technologies.


Virgin Galactic countersues Boeing about mothership project

  • What: Virgin Galactic files a countersuit against Boeing, alleging inadequate performance on a mothership project.
  • Why: This legal battle underscores the complexities of partnerships in the aerospace sector and the high stakes involved in space tourism development.

Varda Announces $90 million Series B Funding to Build Factories in Space

  • What: Varda Space Industries raises $90 million in Series B funding to advance its mission of building space factories.
  • Why: The funding marks a significant step towards exploiting microgravity for pharmaceutical production, underlining the potential of space to revolutionize manufacturing processes.

Sierra Space Unveils the Revolutionary Eclipse Satellite Bus Line: Introducing Velocity, Horizon, and Titan

  • What: Sierra Space introduces a new satellite bus line, signaling its expansion into satellite manufacturing.
  • Why: This development underscores the dynamic nature of the satellite industry and Sierra Space's commitment to innovating within the space sector.

£2.25m Investment To Accelerate Helix Products To Market Release

  • What: Bright Ascension Ltd. has secured a £2.25 million investment for the development of its HELIX suite of satellite software products.
  • Why: This investment highlights the growing market demand for innovative satellite software solutions, essential for the efficient operation and management of spacecraft and constellations in the rapidly expanding space sector.

Mitsubishi Corporation Joins Starlab Space as Strategic Partner, Equity Owner in Joint Venture

  • What: Mitsubishi Corporation has partnered with Starlab Space, taking an equity stake in the joint venture focused on developing a new commercial LEO destination.
  • Why: This partnership exemplifies the globalization of space endeavors and the importance of collaboration across industries and countries to foster innovation and expand access to space-based technologies.

Terran Orbital Regains Compliance with NYSE Continued Listing Standards

  • What: Terran Orbital has regained compliance with NYSE's minimum stock price requirement, avoiding delisting.
  • Why: This turnaround is a positive signal to investors and stakeholders about Terran Orbital's financial health and operational stability, key for future growth in the competitive satellite manufacturing sector.

Terran Orbital's Tyvak International Secures European Defense Agency Contract for Pioneering VLEO Satellite Project

  • What: Tyvak International, a subsidiary of Terran Orbital, has secured a contract for a Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) satellite project with the European Defense Agency.
  • Why: This contract underscores the strategic importance of VLEO satellites for defense and security, highlighting Terran Orbital's capability to contribute to advanced military space technologies.

HawkEye 360 Secures $40 Million Debt Commitment

  • What: HawkEye 360 has secured $40 million in debt financing to enhance its satellite constellation and technological infrastructure.
  • Why: The financing reflects confidence in HawkEye 360's business model and its role in the growing geospatial analytics market, essential for both national security and commercial applications.

AST SpaceMobile Provides Business Update and Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2023 Results

  • What: AST SpaceMobile delays its first satellite launches to Q3 2024 but maintains a strong cash position.
  • Why: These developments indicate challenges in the space-based cellular network sector while showing AST SpaceMobile's commitment to overcoming obstacles and fulfilling its mission.

SKY Perfect JSAT Announces 10 Billion Yen Investment to Accelerate Collaborations with Space-related Startups

  • What: SKY Perfect JSAT commits 10 billion yen to invest in space-related startups and venture funds.
  • Why: This investment highlights the company's strategy to foster innovation and secure a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving space industry through partnerships and new technology adoption.

Telesat and Government of Canada Agree to Terms on C$2.14 Billion Loan in Support of Telesat Lightspeed

  • What: The Canadian government is lending Telesat C$2.14 billion to support the development of the Telesat Lightspeed low Earth orbit broadband constellation. The Government of Canada will receive 10% of the common shares in the new satellite constellation as part of the loan repayment agreement.
  • Why: This significant financial support aims to bridge the digital divide in Canada by expanding satellite internet capabilities nationwide. Moreover, it's an investment into the burgeoning space economy, expected to create new space economy jobs across the country, illustrating the government's commitment to leveraging space assets for national development.


The race to fix space-weather forecasting before next big solar storm hits

  • What: Efforts are being made to improve space-weather forecasting to protect Earth and space-based assets from solar storms.
  • Why: Accurate space-weather prediction is essential for safeguarding critical infrastructure and ensuring the safety of astronauts and satellites, underlining the interconnectedness of space phenomena and terrestrial technologies.

Space is essential for infrastructure. Why isn't it considered critical?

  • What: There is a growing discussion around classifying space as critical infrastructure, given its importance for global communications, navigation, and security.
  • Why: Recognizing space as critical infrastructure could lead to enhanced legal and security measures to protect space assets, reflecting the increasing reliance of modern society and the economy on space-based technologies.


ESA - 3D-bioprinted blood vessel

  • What: The European Space Agency showcases a 3D-bioprinted blood vessel to study the effects of weightlessness on the cardiovascular system.
  • Why: This breakthrough demonstrates the potential of space technology in advancing medical research, offering insights into vascular health and drug effectiveness in microgravity environments.

DARPA Awards Phase Four $14.9M Contract to Develop Air Breathing Electric Propulsion for Very Low Earth Orbit Operations

  • What: Phase Four receives a $14.9 million DARPA contract to develop electric propulsion systems for satellites in very low Earth orbit.
  • Why: This award highlights the push for innovative propulsion technologies that could extend satellite lifespans and enhance operations at lower altitudes.

Muon Space Redefines LEO Satellite Constellations with the release of Muon Halo™ and over $60M in new contracts for 10 Muon Halo Spacecraft and Integrated Mission Services

  • What: Muon Space has unveiled its Muon Halo satellite product line and announced over $60M in contracts for 10 spacecraft and mission services.
  • Why: The development signifies the evolving capabilities and growing demand for LEO satellite constellations, underscoring the importance of advanced satellite technology in addressing global challenges through improved Earth observation and connectivity.

Astrobotic and U.S Air Force Announce Rocket Research and Development Collaboration

  • What: Astrobotic and the US Air Force Research Laboratory are collaborating on developing advanced liquid rocket engine technologies.
  • Why: This partnership aims to advance military and commercial space capabilities, emphasizing the critical role of public-private partnerships in accelerating technological innovation in the space sector.

SwRI to build the spacecraft bus for in-space refueler servicer program

  • What: The Southwest Research Institute is collaborating with Astroscale US on the APS-R project to develop a spacecraft capable of refueling vehicles in geostationary orbit.
  • Why: This initiative represents a significant advancement in space logistics, potentially extending the life of satellites and making space operations more sustainable.


The menace the U.S. confronts from space

  • What: Discussion on the strategic threats the US faces in space, emphasizing the need for robust space security measures.
  • Why: As space becomes increasingly contested, understanding and mitigating these threats are crucial for national security, highlighting the importance of space situational awareness and defense capabilities.

2024 DOD Commercial Space Integration Strategy

  • What: The US Department of Defense released a new strategy for integrating commercial space solutions into national security space architectures.
  • Why: This strategy aims to leverage the commercial space sector's rapid technology advancements to enhance national security space capabilities, underscoring the growing partnership between defense and commercial space industries.


China, Thailand sign pacts on outer space, lunar outposts

  • What: China and Thailand sign agreements to collaborate on space exploration and the development of lunar scientific research stations.
  • Why: These partnerships signify the increasing international collaboration in space exploration, emphasizing the strategic importance of lunar research and development.

Biden Takes Aim at SpaceX’s Tax-Free Ride in American Airspace

  • What: The Biden administration proposes taxing commercial space launches to contribute to the federal fund supporting air traffic controllers.
  • Why: This move aims to ensure commercial space companies pay their fair share for using government resources, highlighting the growing need to update policies as the space industry expands.

Senate Bills Seek to Reform Commercial Space Regulations

  • What: The U.S. Senate introduced two bills to update regulations for commercial space companies, including extending the FAA’s learning period and streamlining licensing for commercial space launches and reentry.
  • Why: These legislative efforts aim to foster the growth of the commercial space sector by easing regulatory burdens, indicating a clear governmental push towards supporting and accelerating space exploration and commercialization.


NASA Names Finalists to Help Deal with Dust in Human Lander Challenge

  • What: NASA selected 12 finalist teams for the Human Lander Challenge, focusing on innovative solutions to manage lunar dust during Moon landings.
  • Why: Addressing the challenges posed by lunar dust is crucial for the safety and success of manned lunar missions, highlighting the importance of innovative engineering solutions in overcoming obstacles to human space exploration.


Russia’s Soyuz 2.1b Rocket Carrying Remote Sensing Satellite Takes Off

  • What: Russia launched the Resurs-P Earth No. 4 satellite on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from Baikonur, intended for Earth remote sensing and environmental monitoring.
  • Why: The satellite enhances Russia's capabilities in studying natural resources, monitoring environmental degradation, and safeguarding water and protected areas. Such advancements in Earth observation contribute to global environmental management and resource conservation efforts.

Successful Launch of EUTELSAT 36D Satellite

  • What: SpaceX's Falcon 9 successfully deployed the EUTELSAT 36D satellite into Geostationary Orbit, where it will operate alongside EUTELSAT 36C, replacing 36B.
  • Why: This mission ensures the continuity of EUTELSAT's services with enhanced performance and flexibility for customers. The successful deployment underscores the reliability and efficiency of commercial launch services in maintaining and expanding satellite infrastructure.


NASA Selects Companies to Advance Moon Mobility for Artemis Missions

  • What: NASA has awarded contracts to Intuitive Machines, Venturi Astrolab, and Lunar Dawn to develop lunar terrain vehicles for Artemis missions.
  • Why: The development of lunar terrain vehicles is critical for the success of Artemis missions, enabling astronauts to travel and conduct scientific research on the Moon's surface, thereby advancing lunar exploration and habitation.

White House directs NASA to create time standard for the moon

  • What: The White House has instructed NASA to establish a Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) as a unified time standard for the moon.
  • Why: As lunar exploration and habitation efforts increase, a standard lunar time will be essential for coordinating activities, enhancing operational efficiency, and supporting scientific research.

Dawn announces lunar mission customer, Cislunar Technologies

  • What: Dawn Aerospace will provide green propulsion technology for Cislunar Technologies' lunar mission, focusing on environmentally friendly propellants.
  • Why: This collaboration highlights the push towards sustainable space exploration practices and the importance of innovative propulsion solutions in reducing the environmental impact of space missions.


Hydrosat Awarded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Grant

  • What: Hydrosat has received a grant from NOAA's Small Business Innovation Research program to develop innovative climate technology solutions.
  • Why: This award emphasizes the critical role of space-based technology in addressing climate change and environmental monitoring, offering new tools for sustainable management of Earth's resources.

China successfully launches new remote sensing satellite

  • What: China launched the Yaogan-42 01 satellite aboard a Long March-2D rocket for Earth observation purposes.
  • Why: The addition of Yaogan-42 01 to China's satellite fleet underscores the country's expanding capabilities in remote sensing, vital for environmental monitoring, resource management, and national security.

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