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Signals and Space | V2 | Issue 21 | 06.03.24

Space for climate monitoring. India’s firing up the cosmos. Galactic Energy sets a new launch record. Workforce and innovation with Shelli Brunswick. And more!



Good morning,

And it's another scrub for Boeing Starliner. Saturday's launch attempt ended with an automatic hold issued less than four minutes remaining in the countdown. The malfunction is still under investigation. NASA and Boeing later called off the backup launch window, scheduled for Sunday, "to give the team additional time to assess a ground support equipment issue." Starliner is the supposed competitor to the SpaceX Dragon -- the only human-rated US capsule in operation today that can fly astronauts to the ISS. Under the Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX Dragon has flown astronauts to the ISS since 2020.

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



Momentus Receives Contract from DARPA to Pave the Way for Large-Scale Space Structures

  • What: Momentus secured a DARPA contract to support the development and in-space demonstration of large-scale structures, part of the NOM4D program.
  • Why: This project aims to advance the capabilities for constructing robust and precise structures in space, essential for future space infrastructure and habitation.

Virgin Galactic Receives NYSE Continued Listing Standard Notice

  • What: Virgin Galactic received a notice from the NYSE for failing to maintain a minimum stock price, with plans to regain compliance through a reverse stock split.
  • Why: The financial stability of space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic is critical for investor confidence and the overall health of the commercial spaceflight market.

INNOSPACE Signs Agreements on HANBIT-Nano Rocket to Launch Brazilian Satellites and Inertial System

  • What: INNOSPACE signed agreements to launch Brazilian satellites using their HANBIT-Nano rocket, scheduled for the first half of 2025.
  • Why: These agreements highlight international collaboration and the growing role of emerging space companies in providing cost-effective launch services.

AST SpaceMobile and Verizon Announce Plans to Target 100 Percent Geographical Coverage of the Continental United States from Space on Premium 850 MHz Cellular Spectrum

  • What: AST SpaceMobile and Verizon announced a partnership to provide direct-to-cellular service across the continental U.S. using AST's space-based network.
  • Why: This initiative promises to eliminate coverage gaps, providing reliable cellular service in remote areas and enhancing overall connectivity.

Redwire Expands Investment in Artificial Intelligence Strategy to Enhance its Space Domain Awareness Capabilities

  • What: Redwire is increasing its investment in AI, focusing on advancing autonomous reasoning in space vehicles through partnerships with academia and government.
  • Why: Enhancing space domain awareness with AI is critical for future space operations, providing improved safety, efficiency, and situational awareness in increasingly crowded orbits.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund launches new group to boost space industry

  • What: Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund launched the Neo Space Group to enhance commercial space operations and invest in space technology and startups.
  • Why: This initiative is part of Saudi Arabia's broader strategy to diversify its economy and establish a significant presence in the global space industry.

MDA Space Joins Starlab Space as Strategic Partner, Equity Owner in Commercial Space Station Joint Venture

  • What: MDA Space has become a strategic partner and equity owner in the Starlab Space commercial space station venture alongside Voyager Space, Airbus, and Mitsubishi Corporation.
  • Why: MDA's expertise in space robotics and human spaceflight enhances the development of commercial space stations, ensuring the continuity of international collaboration in space.

ESA Awards Contracts for Spain’s Contribution to Atlantic Constellation

  • What: The European Space Agency has awarded contracts to develop Spain’s part of the Atlantic Constellation, an Earth observation satellite network.
  • Why: This project emphasizes international collaboration in space, contributing to advanced environmental monitoring and reinforcing Europe’s space capabilities.

Satellogic Approves Workforce Reduction to Control Costs

  • What: Satellogic announced a reduction of 34 employees, about 13% of its workforce, to control operational costs.
  • Why: Reflects the ongoing financial adjustments companies must make to remain viable in the competitive and capital-intensive space industry.

The Spaceport Company Signs Contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to Demonstrate Novel Sea-Based Space Launch Infrastructure

  • What: The Spaceport Company secured a contract with the Defense Innovation Unit to deliver cargo to low Earth orbit using sea-based launch infrastructure.
  • Why: This novel approach could revolutionize space logistics, offering flexible and responsive launch capabilities critical for defense and commercial operations.

Rivada Space Networks Announces New Partners at AsiaTechX 2024

  • What: Rivada Space Networks has announced new partnerships in Asia, aiming to expand its LEO network across Korea, the Philippines, Brunei, Japan, and Taiwan.
  • Why: These partnerships represent significant growth opportunities and potential revenue streams, reinforcing Rivada's position in the competitive LEO market.


Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry unveil world's first wooden satellite

  • What: Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry unveiled LignoSat, the world's first wooden satellite, set to launch from Kennedy Space Center to the ISS in September.
  • Why: This innovative approach explores sustainable materials for satellite construction, potentially reducing space debris and environmental impact.

CisLunar Industries Earns Space Heritage

  • What: CisLunar Industries announced the successful operation of an electron-beam welding system in space, developed in partnership with ThinkOrbital.
  • Why: Achieving space heritage status validates the technology for in-space manufacturing, essential for building sustainable infrastructure in cislunar space.

Sidus Space’s LizzieSat-1 Successfully Transmits Data from Orbit through the Power of its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Rapid Delivery Platform

  • What: Sidus Space's LizzieSat-1 mission successfully demonstrated its AI-powered data transmission platform, processing data 300 times faster than a CPU.
  • Why: The use of AI in satellite operations significantly enhances data processing capabilities, offering faster and more efficient data delivery for various applications.

Scout Space “Sparrow” Successfully Captures First In-Space Image

  • What: Scout Space's Sparrow optical payload, launched on SpaceX’s Transporter-10 mission, captured its first in-space calibration image.
  • Why: Successful in-space imaging is critical for validating technology that supports space situational awareness and the operational capabilities of space assets.

Intelsat Delivers Unprecedented Connectivity To Palau With Dual-Satellite Solution

  • What: Intelsat has implemented a dual-satellite solution to provide continuous connectivity to Palau, addressing the limitations of its previous single undersea fiber-optic cable.
  • Why: Reliable connectivity is essential for economic and social development, and this solution ensures consistent communication services for Palau’s population across its islands.

Chinese, Omani AI satellite companies to cooperate on urban planning

  • What: Chinese AI satellite company STAR.VISION and Oman's Lens LLC are partnering to develop a digital twin city platform for urban planning, infrastructure management, and emergency preparedness.
  • Why: This collaboration highlights the growing role of AI and satellite technology in urban planning and smart city development, offering advanced tools for efficient and sustainable city management.

Orbit Announces Successful Trial Of AirTRx30 Satcom Terminal Over Viasat Global Xpress (Gx) Satellite

  • What: Orbit Communications Systems successfully tested its AirTRx30 aviation terminal over Viasat’s Global Xpress satellites, ensuring reliable in-flight connectivity.
  • Why: Validates the next-generation communication technologies necessary for consistent and high-speed in-flight internet, essential for modern aviation needs.


Space Force Leverages Commercial Data Analytics to Aid Combatant Commands in New Ways

  • What: The US Space Force is using commercial data analytics to provide surveillance and tracking products to combatant commands through the Tactical Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Tracking Program (TacSRT).
  • Why: This initiative showcases the integration of commercial technology to enhance military capabilities, improving situational awareness and decision-making in defense operations.


China to impose export controls on certain aviation, space equipment

  • What: China announced new export controls on specific aviation and space equipment starting July 1, aimed at safeguarding national security and fulfilling international obligations.
  • Why: These controls reflect China's strategic approach to protecting its technological advancements and assert control over the proliferation of sensitive technologies, impacting global supply chains.

NASA Welcomes Peru as 41st Artemis Accords Signatory

  • What: Peru has joined the Artemis Accords, becoming the 41st signatory to the agreement that promotes peaceful and cooperative exploration of space.
  • Why: The inclusion of Peru in the Artemis Accords strengthens international collaboration and broadens the coalition committed to sustainable space exploration.

NASA Welcomes Slovakia as New Artemis Accords Signatory

  • What: Slovakia has signed the Artemis Accords, joining the international framework for peaceful space exploration as the 42nd signatory.
  • Why: Slovakia’s participation enhances global cooperation in space activities, reinforcing the Accords' principles of transparency, safety, and international partnership.

Korea's Inaugural Space Agency Officially Launches

  • What: South Korea launched its national space agency, KASA, to spearhead the country’s space programs, including lunar and Mars missions.
  • Why: Marks a significant milestone in South Korea’s ambitions to become a key player in space exploration, fostering national pride and technological advancement.


China's Shenzhou-18 Crew Completes First Extravehicular Activity

  • What: The Shenzhou-18 crew conducted an 8.5-hour spacewalk to install debris protection devices and inspect equipment on the Tiangong space station.
  • Why: Demonstrates China's advancing capabilities in human spaceflight and extravehicular activities, contributing to the ongoing operation and maintenance of their space station.


Galactic Energy sets domestic record with 2 rocket launches in 3 days

  • What: Galactic Energy, a Chinese commercial launch company, successfully launched two rockets within three days, setting a new record for the shortest interval between launches by a private Chinese company.
  • Why: This achievement demonstrates the rapid advancement and increasing capabilities of China’s commercial space sector, positioning Galactic Energy as a significant player in the global launch market.

North Korean Military Satellite Launch Fails

  • What: North Korea's attempt to launch a military reconnaissance satellite failed, with the rocket exploding during ascent.
  • Why: This failure highlights ongoing challenges in North Korea’s space ambitions and raises regional security concerns, given the geopolitical implications of its space activities.

Shetland spaceport prepares for first rocket launch after official opening

  • What: The Shetland spaceport is preparing for its first rocket launch following its official opening.
  • Why: This new launch site represents a significant expansion of the UK's space launch infrastructure, potentially boosting the country's position in the global space industry.

Indian space startup Agnikul launches country's second privately built rocket

  • What: Agnikul Cosmos successfully launched the Agnibaan rocket, marking India's second privately built rocket launch. The mission tested a new engine and 3D-printed parts.
  • Why: This achievement underscores the growth of India's private space sector, showcasing innovation and expanding capabilities within the country's commercial space industry.

Rocket Lab Successfully Launches First of Two Climate Science Satellites for NASA

  • What: Rocket Lab launched the first of two PREFIRE CubeSats for NASA's climate change mission. These CubeSats will measure heat radiated from Earth's poles to improve climate predictions.
  • Why: This mission provides critical data to better understand and predict climate change impacts, highlighting the increasing role of small satellite technology in climate science.

Elon Musk's SpaceX Raptor engine test ends in a fiery explosion, Starship launch schedule remains unaffected

  • What: A recent static fire test of SpaceX's Raptor engine resulted in an explosion. Despite this, the launch schedule for the Starship remains on track for June 5.
  • Why: Demonstrates SpaceX’s resilience and ability to stay on schedule despite setbacks, emphasizing the robustness of their testing and development processes.

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