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Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 13 | 07.10.23

Ariane 5, once more into the fray. The secret to a long fulfilling space career… plumbing. Pomp and circumstance for Australia’s Space Command. And more!



Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 13 | 07.10.23

Ariane 5, once more into the fray. The secret to a long fulfilling space career… plumbing. Pomp and circumstance for Australia’s Space Command. And more!



Signals and Space is your weekly intelligence briefing to ensure you know what's going up and what’s going on in space—and why it matters.

Here’s what we covered last week:

Monday, 7/03/23: (Replay) MGySgt Scott Stalker from US Space Command: goals and risks in the space operating environment.


Tuesday, 7/04/23: Career Notes- Former NASA Astronaut Col. Eileen Collins on her career progression.


Wednesday, 7/05/23: Ariane 5, once more into the fray.

  1. Last Flight of the Ariane 5

    • Who: The European Space Agency (ESA)
    • What: The final flight of the Ariane 5 rocket was delayed due to high upper winds. The Ariane 5's successor, the Ariane 6, is also being tested.
    • Why: The Ariane 5 has been replaced by a more cost-effective model, the Ariane 6, as part of ESA's efforts to offer lower-cost space access.
  2. Successful Launch of ESA's Euclid Telescope

    • Who: European Space Agency (ESA) and SpaceX
    • What: ESA's Euclid telescope was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, using a SpaceX Falcon 9.
    • Why: Euclid, which was meant to fly aboard the Ariane 6, had to be launched using a SpaceX Falcon 9 due to delays and geopolitical issues. Euclid will now start its journey to hunt for dark matter.
  3. CNES Forms Space Mission Ethics Committee

    • Who: France's space agency, CNES
    • What: A Space Mission Ethics Committee has been formed in response to growing privatization in the space sector.
    • Why: The committee will advise CNES on ethical issues related to space activities, especially those concerning the New Space industry, and it aims to strike a balance between cooperation, competition, sovereignty, and responsibility.
  4. SpaceX's Boca Chica Launch Site Controversy

    • Who: SpaceX and the FAA
    • What: SpaceX and the FAA seek to dismiss a lawsuit alleging inadequate environmental studies at the Boca Chica launch site.
    • Why: The lawsuit, filed by environmental and tribal groups, could potentially delay SpaceX's Starship/Super Heavy Program if ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
  5. SmartSat's AI-Powered Autonomous Spacecraft Project

    • Who: SmartSat, a consortium of universities and research organizations funded by the Australian Government
    • What: Initiation of a $7 million project, SCARLET-α, to develop AI-powered autonomous spacecraft.
    • Why: The project aims to enhance onboard processing, small spacecraft resilience, and real-time tasking, allowing spacecraft to make independent decisions and adapt to evolving situations in orbit without Earth's intervention.
  6. Concerns about Unintended Electromagnetic Radiation

    • Who: Astronomers and SpaceX
    • What: Growing concerns that unintended electromagnetic radiation from LEO constellations, including Starlink, is causing interference with protected VHF bands used by astronomers.
    • Why: This issue highlights a regulatory gap as there are no regulations for equipment on orbit causing interference. SpaceX is working on mitigating this issue in its future Starlink satellites.
  7. CGI's Contribution to METEOR

    • Who: Global IT and business consulting firm, CGI
    • What: Pledged £2.6 million to the University of Leicester’s METEOR research centre to drive research around climate change solutions.
    • Why: The collaboration will use CGI's GeoData360 platform to manage and visualize Earth Observation and Geospatial data, promoting sustainability, and developing low-carbon business models.
  8. Shift in Space Force's Strategy

    • Who: The Space Force and General Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations
    • What: A shift in Space Force's strategy to not just protect US satellites, but also operate in space to defend terrestrial Joint Forces from adversaries' space-enabled attacks.
    • Why: This shift aligns with the "logic of space superiority" and reflects a recognition of new space threats.
  9. iRocket's Additional Funding for Phase II SBIR

    • Who: iRocket and the US Space Force
    • What: iRocket received an additional $1.8 million for its Phase II SBIR for a full-duration static fire test of the engine for its Shockwave reusable launch vehicle.
    • Why: The funding aims to enable the Shockwave to immediately land and reuse both the rocket’s first and second stages as well as the payload fairing.
  10. DIU's Solicitation for Commercial Solutions

    • Who: The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU)
    • What: Seeking commercial solutions for precise point-to-point delivery of small to medium cargo payloads through space.
    • Why: The strategy could find use in times of crisis and disaster response, and is part of the larger "tactically responsive space" concept.
  11. Satellite Images Reveal Potential Military-Style Camp in Belarus

    • Who: Wagner mercenary group, Belarus, and Ukraine
    • What: Satellite images show a potential military-style camp in Belarus which may be housing members of the Wagner mercenary group.
    • Why: The alleged offering of refuge to Wagner mercenaries by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has prompted Ukraine to strengthen its border with Belarus.
  12. First Glimpse of Lightning Strike Images from Meteosat-12

    • Who: Eumetsat
    • What: Shared a first glimpse of lightning strike images taken from the new Meteosat-12 weather satellite.
    • Why: Meteosat-12, still in testing and not fully commissioned yet, will be observing Europe and Africa.
  13. Featured interview: Rob Adlard, CEO of Gravitilab, on microgravity services and the value of short duration space access. You can follow Rob on LinkedIn.

Thursday, 7/06/23: The secret to a long fulfilling space career… plumbing.

  1. Air Traffic Concerns Around SaxaVord Spaceport

    • Who: SaxaVord Spaceport, Icelandic Transport Authority, Isavia (Iceland's air traffic control company).
    • What: Rising concerns around potential airspace disruption due to planned space launches at the SaxaVord spaceport, which could force rerouting of significant transatlantic flight traffic.
    • Why: These concerns stem from potential financial and environmental impacts such as reduced revenue for Isavia and increased carbon emissions due to extended flight paths.
  2. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson Attends Washington State Space Summit

    • Who: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, space CEOs, US Senator Maria Cantwell.
    • What: Nelson's visit to the Washington State Space Summit, held at Blue Origin HQ, underlining the state's growing prominence in the commercial space industry.
    • Why: The growing commercial space sector in Washington state, which has doubled since 2018, is contributing significantly to the economy and providing numerous job opportunities.
  3. Tom Whitmeyer Joins Booz Allen Hamilton as Executive Advisor

    • Who: Former NASA executive Tom Whitmeyer and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
    • What: Whitmeyer joins Booz Allen Hamilton to support its space business, offering strategic plans to support NASA, NOAA, and the Space Force.
    • Why: Leveraging Whitmeyer's extensive experience in managing large-scale space flight programs, Booz Allen Hamilton aims to bolster its consulting work in the space sector.
  4. Launch Date for ISRO's Chandrayaan 3 Announced

    • Who: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
    • What: Announcement of the launch date for the Chandrayaan 3 mission, India's third lunar mission.
    • Why: This announcement underscores India's growth as a space power and its commitment to lunar exploration.
  5. Astra Spins Off Spacecraft Engine Business

    • Who: Space launch firm Astra.
    • What: Astra is spinning off its spacecraft engine business into a wholly owned subsidiary, Astra Spacecraft Engines, Inc.
    • Why: The restructuring is intended to simplify international hiring and provide a potential source of financing to bolster its launch business amid depleting cash reserves.
  6. UK and EU Draft a Deal for UK's Re-entry into Major Research Programs

    • Who: UK and EU negotiators.
    • What: Drafting of a deal for the UK's re-entry into the Horizon Europe research program and the Copernicus Earth observation program.
    • Why: This move is aimed at reintegrating the UK into key European research programs following its departure from the EU.
  7. Polish Space Agency Completes Acceptance Phase for Three Observatories

    • Who: The Polish Space Agency.
    • What: Completion of the acceptance phase for three observatories in Australia, Chile, and South Africa.
    • Why: The new observatories, designed to monitor satellites and space debris, enhance Poland's capabilities in space observation and monitoring.
  8. International Telecommunication Union Approves Rivada's Satellite Launch Plan

    • Who: The International Telecommunication Union and Rivada.
    • What: Approval of Rivada's plan to launch 600 satellites by 2028 to support the creation of OuterNET, a private global network for secure communications.
    • Why: The approval allows Rivada to proceed with its ambitious plans for a private communications network.
  9. Australian Space Consortium iLaunch Established

    • Who: iLaunch consortium, University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ), Australian National University, the University of South Australia, and over 20 space industry partners.
    • What: The formation of a new space consortium to propel Australian space research and train new generations of space professionals.
    • Why: The program is designed to advance the Australian space industry and nurture local talent.
  10. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Issues RFI for a Data Science Platform

    • Who: The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
    • What: Issuance of an RFI for a data science platform to provide access to commercial and unclassified government geospatial intelligence data.
    • Why: The agency seeks to consolidate access to diverse geospatial data sources via a SaaS solution with Python-based infrastructure.
  11. Impact Observatory Partners with Planet Labs for Near Real-Time Land Use Monitoring

    • Who: Global mapping provider Impact Observatory and Planet Labs.
    • What: Partnership to deliver near real-time land use monitoring.
    • Why: The partnership provides timely and up-to-date land-use maps, offering insights into global changes and supporting decision-making across various sectors.
  12. HawkEye 360 Receives Contract to Combat Illegal Fishing

    • Who: Space-based radio frequency monitoring provider HawkEye 360 and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.
    • What: HawkEye 360 has been contracted to provide data, analytics, and training to detect illicit maritime activity.
    • Why: The contract aligns with the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, aiming to curb illegal fishing in the region.
  13. Featured interview: Tom Whitmeyer, Executive Advisor at Booz Allen Hamilton, on his distinguished career as a NASA senior executive, including running the Artemis I mission, and his next role at Booz Allen just announced today. You can follow Tom on LinkedIn.

Friday, 7/07/23: Pomp and circumstance for Australia’s Space Command.

  1. Australia’s Space Command Becomes Independent

    • Who: Australia's Space Command, Australian Defence Force's Joint Capabilities Group, and Defence Minister Richard Marles.
    • What: Australia’s Space Command, originally part of the Air Force, has now become an independent part of the Australian Defence Force's Joint Capabilities Group.
    • Why: The transition highlights Australia's growing focus on space both as an economic sector and a military priority. It's part of an effort to increase Australia's autonomy in space capabilities and decrease reliance on allied space assets, particularly those from the United States.
  2. Saber Astronautics Expands in Adelaide

    • Who: Sydney-based Saber Astronautics.
    • What: Saber Astronautics is expanding its presence in Adelaide by opening a new South Australian headquarters and spacecraft Concurrent Design facility.
    • Why: The company's expansion is a direct result of the growth of the Australian commercial and national defense space sectors.
  3. Landspace's Zhuque-2 Orbital Flight Test

    • Who: Chinese commercial launch company, Landspace.
    • What: Landspace is preparing for a second orbital attempt with its Zhuque-2 rocket.
    • Why: If successful, Zhuque-2 will be the first methalox launch vehicle to achieve orbit, highlighting the growing role of commercial firms in China's space sector.
  4. Mars Society's Mars Simulation Mission

    • Who: The Mars Society.
    • What: The Mars Society will send a multinational crew to the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station in Canada for a two-week Mars simulation mission.
    • Why: This mission aims to facilitate upgrade work and conduct geological and microbiological exploration under Mars mission constraints.
  5. Advanced Infrared Sensors for Exoplanet Detection

    • Who: University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy and Leonardo.
    • What: Development of advanced infrared sensors to improve the detection and analysis of exoplanets.
    • Why: These new pixel arrays will aid in identifying habitable planets by discerning faint spectroscopic signals.
  6. Increasing Anti-Collision Maneuvers by Starlink Satellites

    • Who: SpaceX's Starlink division.
    • What: Starlink satellites made 25,000 collision-avoidance maneuvers in the past six months, doubling the previous period's count.
    • Why: This growing trend indicates the increasing number of satellites and space debris, leading to a potentially hazardous and unsustainable orbital environment.
  7. Maritime Launch Services' Rocket Launch

    • Who: Maritime Launch Services and York University student group, Arbalest Rocketry.
    • What: Maritime Launch Services successfully launched a two-stage rocket from its Nova Scotia spaceport, marking a significant step in Canada's return to space.
    • Why: The successful launch, along with evolving regulations, may reduce reliance on cross-border launches for Canadian companies.
  8. Starlink Partnership with Ecuador's Ministry of Telecommunications

    • Who: SpaceX's Starlink division and Ecuador's Ministry of Telecommunications.
    • What: Starlink has partnered with Ecuador's Ministry of Telecommunications to provide high-speed satellite internet to six rural schools in the Galapagos Islands.
    • Why: This initiative is part of a larger effort to reduce the digital divide and promote technological innovation in education across Ecuador.
  9. Featured interview: Moez Kamel, Threat Management Specialist at IBM Security, on the cybersecurity ecosystem in the New Space industry. You can follow Moez on LinkedIn and his work at IBM’s Security Intelligence blog.

Saturday, 7/08/23: Moez Kamel and the cybersecurity ecosystem for New Space.

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