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Signals and Space | V2 | Issue 16 | 04.22.24

Accelerating the use of space for life on Earth. Space threats 2024. China’s SuperView. A new livestream from space. Navigating the cosmos' clutter. And more!




Good morning,


Last week was a BIG week for N2K. T-Minus Space Daily officially turned 1 years old. That's right, we've been publishing a daily space podcast for over a year now. So if you'll bear with me for a moment, I'd like to share some of our stats (you can also see the cool first year wrapped graphic we made here).

  • MGySgt Scott Stalker (ret.) was our most popular guest with 20,271 listens.
  • We reached over 380,000 in our first year of the podcast.
  • We published more than 290 separate interviews, 197 hours of content.
  • Our audience listened to 171,000 hours of content from us.
  • We published 380 episodes.
  • And there are some more easter eggs in the graphic I linked above.

This first year for T-Minus was fantastic. And the team is ready for many, many more. Thanks for humoring me. 

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.

-- Brandon Karpf, Vice President of N2K


  • Liam Kennedy on “SpaceTV-1”, a new 4K camera hosted on the outside of the ISS through a commercial payload agreement.
  • Kier Fortier and Robert Sproles discuss Exolaunch's innovative satellite deployment technologies and their impact on space industry operations.

  • Praveen Kurian and Joe Poist from SAIC discuss their involvement in updating launch ranges and equipment for the Federal Government, emphasizing technological advancements and strategic importance.

  • Troy Morris shares insights into Kall Morris Inc.'s innovative solutions for space debris management and their new partnerships announced at the Space Symposium.

  • Lee Steinke discusses advancements in metal processing in space, highlighting Cislunar Industries' innovative approaches and their implications for future space infrastructure.

  • Dr. Craig Brown discusses the burgeoning UK space ecosystem and its recent developments, shedding light on the strategic focus of the UK Space Agency.


UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund

  • What: The UK Space Agency announced an £8 million Space Portfolio within the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund to support early-stage space companies.
  • Why: This initiative highlights the UK's commitment to nurturing space innovation and entrepreneurship, addressing funding gaps that hinder the growth of startups and strengthening the UK's position in the global space sector.

Rapid rise of China's commercial space industry expected to continue

  • What: China's commercial space industry, featuring a growing number of companies providing launch services and building satellite constellations, is expected to continue its rapid expansion.
  • Why: The acceleration of China's commercial space sector underscores the country's ambitious space goals and highlights the global competitive dynamics in space exploration, satellite technology, and launch services.

MDA Space Awarded $250m Contract Extension To Support Robotics Operations On The International Space Station

  • What: MDA Space has secured a $250 million contract extension to continue its support for robotics operations on the ISS through 2030.
  • Why: This contract extension not only underscores the importance of robotics in maintaining and enhancing the ISS but also showcases MDA Space's pivotal role in advancing robotic technologies for space applications.

Iridium Announces First-Quarter 2024 Results

  • What: Iridium reported a net income increase in Q1 2024 and an expansion of its subscriber base, continuing its growth trajectory.
  • Why: Iridium's positive financial results reflect the robust demand for satellite communications, highlighting the company's strong position in the global satellite services market.

Orbex Secures £16.7m Investment for Rocket ‘Ramp Up’ Period

  • What: UK-based Orbex secured £16.7 million in Series C funding to support the development of its Prime rocket for small satellite launches.
  • Why: This investment marks a significant step towards Orbex's goal of becoming a leading provider of sustainable and efficient satellite launch services in Europe, supporting the burgeoning small satellite market.

ICEYE Raises Oversubscribed Growth Funding Round to Expand Global SAR Leadership

  • What: ICEYE announced a $93M growth funding round to accelerate its synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite constellation expansion and data product portfolio.
  • Why: This funding underscores the growing investor confidence in Earth observation technologies and ICEYE's leadership in SAR, highlighting the sector's importance for a wide range of applications from disaster response to security.

Seraphim Space Q1 Index

  • What: Seraphim Space Index reported a $2.4 billion investment in the space sector in Q1 2024, indicating a growth trajectory.
  • Why: The investment trends reveal the space industry's resilience and growth potential, highlighting the increasing strategic and commercial interest in space technologies.

Comtech Partners with Eutelsat OneWeb to Deliver LEO Connectivity Services to Antarctica

  • What: Comtech has partnered with Eutelsat OneWeb to provide high-speed LEO satellite connectivity services in Antarctica, achieving data rates up to 120 Mbps.
  • Why: This collaboration showcases the expansion of global satellite connectivity, highlighting its critical role in enabling communication and data transfer in remote and challenging environments.

Aerospacelab Successfully Acquires AMOS

  • What: Belgium's Aerospacelab has completed the acquisition of AMOS, a move that merges expertise in satellite manufacturing and opto-mechanical systems.
  • Why: This acquisition signifies a strategic expansion in the aerospace sector, enabling Aerospacelab to innovate and compete in the burgeoning space market while opening new opportunities for technological advancements and market penetration.


IntelBroker Claims Space-Eyes Breach, Targeting US National Security Data

  • What: Hacker group IntelBroker breached the cybersecurity of Space-Eyes, a firm providing geospatial intelligence, potentially exposing sensitive US national security information.
  • Why: This breach underscores the critical importance of cybersecurity in the space industry, especially for firms dealing with sensitive information, and calls for enhanced security measures to protect against cyber threats.


NASA’s Near Space Network Enables PACE Climate Mission to ‘Phone Home’

  • What: NASA's PACE mission has successfully used Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) technology to transmit operational data back to Earth, showcasing the Near Space Network's capabilities.
  • Why: The successful transmission of data from the PACE mission demonstrates the potential of DTN technology to enhance the reliability of space communications, crucial for the success of future space missions and the advancement of climate research.

D-Orbit Announces In-Orbit Edge Computing Collaboration with SkyServe STORM

  • What: D-Orbit and SkyServe announced a collaboration to enable edge computing capabilities aboard D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carriers.
  • Why: This partnership aims to enhance in-orbit data processing and analytics, demonstrating the potential of edge computing to revolutionize satellite operations and data utilization in space.

NASA Space Tech Priorities

  • What: NASA is seeking community feedback on its identified technology needs for future space exploration and science projects.
  • Why: Engaging the broader aerospace community ensures NASA's future missions are supported by the most advanced and effective technologies, fostering innovation and collaboration across the industry.

The Pixel 9 reportedly gears up for satellite SOS support

  • What: The upcoming Pixel 9 smartphone is reported to include satellite SOS support, enabling emergency communication in areas without cellular coverage.
  • Why: This development highlights the growing integration of satellite technology in consumer devices, potentially transforming global emergency response and connectivity.


Space Threat Assessment 2024

  • What: The CSIS released its 2024 Space Threat Assessment, highlighting the increasing capabilities of nations like China and Russia to threaten US space assets.
  • Why: This report underscores the critical need for enhanced space security measures and international cooperation to protect valuable space assets from growing counterspace threats, ensuring space remains a domain of peaceful and constructive activity.

Nasa chief warns China is masking military presence in space with civilian programs

  • What: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson testified before Congress, expressing concerns about China's military activities disguised within its civilian space program.
  • Why: Nelson's warnings highlight the strategic challenges and potential risks posed by China's space ambitions, stressing the importance of maintaining a competitive edge in space exploration and security.

Member Roundtable: The Space Race Returns

  • What: The US House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party conducted a roundtable discussing China’s ambitions in space and strategies for the US to maintain its dominance.
  • Why: The discussion reflects growing awareness and concern regarding space as a competitive and strategic domain, emphasizing the need for sustained investment and policy focus to secure US interests in space.

DOD Awards $14.4 Million to Sustain and Enhance the Space-Qualified Solar Cell Supply Chain

  • What: The US Department of Defense awarded $14.4 million to 5N+ Semiconductors for the development of germanium substrates for satellite solar cells.
  • Why: This funding aims to bolster the US space supply chain's resilience, ensuring the sustainability of critical components for defense and commercial satellites, which is vital for maintaining technological superiority in space.

Advancing ‘Ahead of Ready’ with Next Generation Interceptor- Lockheed Martin

  • What: Lockheed Martin is developing the Next Generation Interceptor, aimed at enhancing missile defense capabilities.
  • Why: This initiative demonstrates the ongoing evolution of military technology in space, emphasizing the strategic importance of maintaining technological superiority in national defense.

National Guard Chief Makes Case for Space Guard

  • What: Discussions are underway about establishing a Space Guard to operate alongside the Space Force, addressing evolving space-related security challenges.
  • Why: The proposal for a Space Guard reflects the increasing recognition of space as a strategic and contested domain, highlighting the need for dedicated capabilities and governance structures to ensure national and global security in space.


Federal Register :: Launch of a Reentry Vehicle as a Payload That Requires a Reentry Authorization To Return to Earth

  • What: The FAA issued a notice requiring reentry vehicle operators to obtain the appropriate reentry authorization before launch, aiming to streamline the reentry licensing process.
  • Why: This regulatory update seeks to improve the efficiency of the reentry licensing process, reducing potential delays and ensuring the safety and sustainability of space operations.

ESA and the EU agree to accelerate the use of space

  • What: The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union (EU) have signed an agreement to accelerate space utilization for Earthly benefits, focusing on climate action, crisis response, and space asset protection.
  • Why: This agreement signifies a major step forward in leveraging space technologies to tackle global challenges, enhancing societal resilience against climate change and disasters while ensuring the sustainability and security of space infrastructure.

NASA Leadership to Visit Mexico, Strengthen Cooperation

  • What: NASA officials plan to visit Mexico to enhance bilateral space exploration and research cooperation.
  • Why: Strengthening international partnerships in space exploration is vital for addressing global challenges, sharing knowledge, and fostering innovation across borders.

NASA budget woes could doom $2 billion Chandra space telescope

  • What: The Chandra X-ray Observatory faces potential termination due to the proposed 2025 NASA budget constraints, sparking concerns within the scientific community.
  • Why: The potential discontinuation of Chandra, a critical tool for astrophysical research, underscores the challenges of balancing scientific ambition with fiscal constraints, impacting future research and development in space science.


China prepares to launch Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship

  • What: China's Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship is set for launch, aiming to dock with the Tiangong Space Station.
  • Why: This mission signifies China's advancing human spaceflight capabilities and its commitment to establishing a continuous human presence in orbit, contributing to the global landscape of space exploration.

Starliner Rollout Preparations Continue

  • What: Boeing's Starliner spacecraft is preparing for its first crewed test flight to the ISS, with launch preparations underway at Space Launch Complex-41.
  • Why: This step represents a critical milestone in commercial crewed spaceflight, enhancing the U.S.'s capabilities for sending astronauts to orbit and fostering public-private partnerships in space exploration.


Interstellar and D-Orbit to Enter a Framework Agreement for Launch Services

  • What: Japan's Interstellar Technologies and Italy's D-Orbit have entered a Framework Agreement to collaborate on space transport services in Asia, with the support of Marubeni Corporation.
  • Why: This agreement is pivotal in fostering international cooperation in the space sector, enhancing the supply chain for space transport services in Asia, and reflecting the growing significance of agile and collaborative approaches in the competitive space industry.


Lunar I-Hab: Gateway International Habitation Module

  • What: A high-grade full-scale mock-up of ESA’s Lunar I-Hab, part of the Lunar Gateway, has been approved for human-in-the-loop testing.
  • Why: The development and testing of the Lunar I-Hab underscore the importance of international collaboration in advancing lunar exploration capabilities, serving as a critical step towards sustainable human presence on the Moon.

China's Tiandu satellites take Earth-Moon transmissions, routing tests

  • What: Tiandu-1 and Tiandu-2 satellites have successfully demonstrated Earth-Moon transmission capabilities, signaling advancements in lunar orbit accuracy and proposing future lunar navigation and communication support services.
  • Why: These tests underscore China's ambitious plans for lunar exploration and development, indicating a strategic move to establish a formidable presence in cislunar space which could influence future lunar explorations and utilization strategies.


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

  • What: Advances in space-weather forecasting aim to improve predictions and mitigation strategies for solar storms, which pose significant risks to Earth's technological infrastructure.
  • Why: Enhancing space-weather forecasting capabilities is critical for protecting satellite communications, power grids, and other essential services from the potentially devastating impacts of solar storms, underscoring the intersection of space science and public safety.

Long March-2D launches SuperView Neo 3-01

  • What: The Long March-2D vehicle successfully launched the SuperView Neo 3-01 remote sensing satellite from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, marking the continuation of China's ambitious 28-vehicle SuperView constellation.
  • Why: This launch not only enhances China's capabilities in commercial remote sensing data services across a wide array of applications including digital agriculture and urban modeling but also signifies China's growing prowess and competitive stance in the global space industry.

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