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Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 20 | 08.28.23

Astronaut, crew, or spaceflight participant? Who’s watching who? India is on the Moon. Electron hits major milestones during its 40th launch. And more!



Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 20 | 08.28.23

Astronaut, crew, or spaceflight participant? Who’s watching who? India is on the Moon. Electron hits major milestones during its 40th launch. 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, 8/21/23: Astronaut, crew, or spaceflight participant? 

  1. FAA and DoT's New Proposed Rules

    • Who: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and US Department of Transportation (DoT).
    • What: Proposing new rules for government astronauts on commercial space launch vehicles. The rules aim to clarify the roles of NASA astronauts on commercial flights.
    • Why: To ensure that NASA astronauts can perform safety-critical tasks and provide mission training on commercial spaceflights.
  2. Space Development Agency's Satellite Contract

    • Who: US Space Development Agency, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin.
    • What: A contract for the design and construction of 72 data transport satellites as part of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.
    • Why: To facilitate encrypted military communications through a constellation of satellites.
  3. Axiom Space Funding Round

    • Who: Axiom Space and Saudi investors Aljazira Capital.
    • What: Axiom Space secured $350 million in a Series-C growth funding round.
    • Why: To support the company's mission and projects, including launching its module to the ISS by 2026.
  4. Sierra Space and Redwire Partnership

    • Who: Sierra Space and Redwire.
    • What: Collaboration on commercial pharmaceutical and biotech R&D and manufacturing in Low Earth Orbit.
    • Why: To achieve commercial breakthroughs in pharmaceutical drug development and human health research.
  5. Warning on Cyberespionage Risks

    • Who: US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI).
    • What: Issued a warning about the space industry's vulnerability to cyberespionage.
    • Why: To raise awareness about potential threats to the commercial space industry, including intellectual property theft and attacks on space systems.
  6. Russia’s Luna-25 Moon Mission Failure

    • Who: Russian space agency (Roscosmos).
    • What: The Luna-25 spacecraft crashed on the moon after losing contact.
    • Why: Technical difficulties are speculated, but a commission has been established to determine the exact cause.
  7. India's Space Activities

    • Who: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Mauritius.
    • What: Discussions on furthering space cooperation, including a proposed microsatellite and an innovative 'India-Mauritius space portal'.
    • Why: To strengthen space collaboration and enhance the capabilities of both nations in space technology.
  8. Egypt's Space Agency Leadership

    • Who: Egyptian Space Agency and Dr. Sherif Sedky.
    • What: President of Egypt extends Dr. Sedky's tenure as Chief Operating Officer.
    • Why: Under Dr. Sedky's leadership, significant advancements have been made, including the launch of satellites and international collaborations.
  9. US-Japan-Korea Trilateral Space Partnership

    • Who: Leaders of the US, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
    • What: Meeting at Camp David to discuss space security cooperation and responsible use of space.
    • Why: To address emerging threats in the space domain and strengthen international collaborations.
  10. NASA’s STEREO-A Journey

    • Who: NASA and the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory spacecraft (STEREO-A).
    • What: STEREO-A completed a 17-year journey around the sun and is now closest to Earth.
    • Why: The spacecraft has outperformed its mission duration and will be repurposed to conduct new solar research in collaboration with newer satellites.
  11. Featured interview: Andrew Williams, External Relations at the European Southern Observatory. You can connect with Andy on LinkedIn and learn more about the European Southern Observatory at their website and the Center for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Skies from Satellite Constellation Interference, or CPS at their website.

Tuesday, 8/22/23: Who’s watching who?

  1. China's Satellite Surveillance in Australia

    • Who: China's satellite fleet, EOS Space Systems, ABC News Australia.
    • What: Chinese satellites are closely observing the Malabar maritime exercises and the Talisman Sabre war games, two major military exercises in Australia.
    • Why: The increase in China's surveillance capabilities has prompted concerns and highlights the changing dynamics in satellite-based military surveillance.
  2. China's L-SAR4 01 Satellite Launch

    • Who: China's National Space Administration.
    • What: Successful launch and deployment of the L-SAR4 01 satellite, the world's first high-orbit synthetic aperture radar satellite.
    • Why: The satellite aims to collect time-sensitive data for disaster prevention and reduction in China.
  3. North Korea's Upcoming Satellite Launch

    • Who: Japanese Coast Guard, North Korea.
    • What: North Korea plans a satellite launch, despite being banned from such activities under U.N. resolutions.
    • Why: This marks North Korea's second attempt this year, signaling its continued interest in space activities and potential reconnaissance capabilities.
  4. Hong Kong University Satellite Launch

    • Who: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Chang Guang Satellite Technology Company.
    • What: The planned launch of the "HKUST-FYBB#1" satellite, aimed at tracking remote sensing data.
    • Why: It represents a significant step towards building a remote sensing satellite constellation and comprehensive monitoring system.
  5. Luna 25's Crash on the Moon

    • Who: Russia’s Space Agency, Roscosmos.
    • What: The crash of the Luna 25 spacecraft on the moon due to engine failures.
    • Why: The crash emphasizes challenges in lunar exploration and places focus on other pending missions like India’s Chandrayaan-3.
  6. Hughes Network Systems Contract

    • Who: Hughes Network Systems, U.S. Space Force.
    • What: A contract potentially valued up to $900 million for proliferated Low Earth Orbit satellite-based services.
    • Why: It shows the expanding interest in LEO satellite capabilities, despite the majority of these contracts not being fully realized.
  7. US Space Development Agency's Contracts

    • Who: US Space Development Agency, Mynaric.
    • What: Mynaric has been selected for an optical ground terminal demonstration planned for 2025.
    • Why: The demonstration aims to showcase successful communication between space-based optical communications terminals and a ground station.
  8. AFWERX's Contract with Umbra

    • Who: US Air Force AFWERX program, Umbra.
    • What: A SBIR Phase II contract worth $1.25 million for the development of Space-Based Moving Target Indication.
    • Why: To further develop and demonstrate maritime and ground target indication capabilities.
  9. SES and CNT's Collaboration in the Galapagos

    • Who: SES, CNT (Galapagos telecommunications company).
    • What: CNT inaugurated the first O3b mPOWER terminal on Santa Cruz Island and plans to increase its capacity on the O3b constellation.
    • Why: Aimed at doubling internet speed and offering free Wi-Fi zones in the Galapagos Islands.
  10. Satellogic and Quant Data & Analytics Agreement

    • Who: Satellogic (US-based), Quant Data & Analytics (Saudi-based).
    • What: An agreement wherein Quant will utilize Satellogic's satellite imagery for property tech in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region.
    • Why: To monitor urban development and ensure compliance with environmental and zoning regulations.
  11. Canadian Space Agency's Research Grants

    • Who: Canadian Space Agency.
    • What: Awarded six grants for industry-academia collaborative research related to the Space Strategy for Canada.
    • Why: To promote and advance space-related research in collaboration with the academic sector.
  12. Featured interview: Trudy Kortes, Director of NASA STMD Technology Demonstrations, and Greg Richardson, Director of COSMIC, about the NASA-created consortium for space mobility and ISAM capabilities. You can connect with Trudy and Greg on LinkedIn and find out more about COSMIC on their website.

Wednesday, 8/23/23: India is on the Moon. The peacock has landed.

  1. India Lands on the Moon with Chandrayaan 3

    • Who: India's space agency, ISRO.
    • What: Successfully soft landed Chandrayaan 3 on the Lunar south pole, becoming the fourth nation to achieve such a feat.
    • Why: A significant achievement for India, especially following the failure of the Chandrayaan 2 mission in 2019.
  2. Economic Impact of Chandrayaan 3's Success

    • Who: 13 space companies in India supplying to ISRO.
    • What: Experienced a stock rally, with several hitting historic high market caps, adding $2.5 billion in total market value.
    • Why: Anticipation and eventual success of the Chandrayaan 3 mission increased investor confidence.
  3. BRICS Space Exploration Consortium Proposal

    • Who: Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.
    • What: Proposed the idea of creating a BRICS space exploration consortium at the BRICS block session.
    • Why: To expand the ongoing BRICS satellite and data sharing project to include space exploration ambitions.
  4. ESA's Clearspace-1 Mission Target Hit by Debris

    • Who: European Space Agency (ESA).
    • What: The target for their space debris removal mission, VESPA, was hit by space debris.
    • Why: Highlights the urgency of addressing space debris. The impact of this incident on the mission is being assessed.
  5. NASA's Artemis Geology Team Announcement

    • Who: NASA.
    • What: Released the names of its Geology Team for the first crewed Artemis landing at the lunar south pole.
    • Why: The team will develop a comprehensive surface science plan, maximizing scientific output from the mission.
  6. NASA's Break the Ice Lunar Challenge Phase 2

    • Who: NASA.
    • What: Seeking a venue to test prototypes for lunar excavation and transportation systems.
    • Why: To evaluate and showcase the technological advancements of the competing teams in lunar operations.
  7. SpaceX and NASA Gearing Up for ISS Mission

    • Who: SpaceX and NASA.
    • What: Preparing for the next crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with Crew 7.
    • Why: Regular crew rotations and partnerships with commercial entities like SpaceX help maintain a continuous human presence on the ISS.
  8. SpaceX's 100th Starlink Mission

    • Who: SpaceX.
    • What: Launched its 100th Starlink mission, deploying 21 second-generation Starlink satellites.
    • Why: A significant milestone as SpaceX continues to expand its Starlink satellite constellation to provide global broadband coverage.
  9. Sidus Space Acquires Exo-Space

    • Who: Sidus Space and Exo-Space.
    • What: Sidus Space acquired Edge Artificial Intelligence software and hardware company Exo-Space.
    • Why: To enhance their presence in Earth and Space Observations markets and provide actionable solutions over raw data.
  10. Momentus Inc.'s Reverse Stock Split

    • Who: Momentus Inc.
    • What: Implementing a 1 for 50 reverse stock split.
    • Why: To comply with Nasdaq's minimum bid price requirement and appeal to a broader group of investors.
  11. Spire Global and the MagQuest Challenge

    • Who: Spire Global and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
    • What: Collaborating for Phase 4 of MagQuest to advance Earth’s magnetic field measurements with a satellite carrying a diamond quantum magnetometer.
    • Why: The satellite system aims to provide a novel approach to geomagnetic data collection, contributing to the World Magnetic Model.
  12. Featured interview: Dr Lyle Roberts, Head of Photonics at Advanced Navigation. You can connect with Lyle on LinkedIn and learn more about Advanced Navigation on their website.

Thursday, 8/24/23: Electron hits major milestones during its 40th launch.

  1. Rocket Lab's 40th Electron Launch

    • Who: Rocket Lab, Capella Space.
    • What: Celebrated the 40th launch of the Electron Rocket, demonstrated reusable capabilities, and deployed Capella Space’s Acadia satellite.
    • Why: Significant milestones in Rocket Lab’s reusability program, enhancing the commercial satellite launch market.
  2. North Korea's Satellite Launch

    • Who: North Korea.
    • What: Attempted to launch a military spy satellite which ended in failure due to issues in its third stage.
    • Why: This is North Korea's second failed attempt this year, further violating UN sanctions.
  3. India's Moon Mission Success

    • Who: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
    • What: Celebrated the success of the Chandrayaan 3's lunar south pole landing; preparing for another uncrewed lunar mission, LUPEX, by 2026.
    • Why: Strengthening space collaborations between India and Japan and furthering lunar research.
  4. Space Lab Opening in India

    • Who: IIT Hyderabad's design team, Blue Blocks School.
    • What: Opened a state-of-the-art space lab, showcasing a Vikram lander prototype and rover.
    • Why: To inspire and educate the next generation of space enthusiasts and researchers in India.
  5. SES-9 Satellite Connectivity Partnership

    • Who: SES, We Are I.T., Filipino Commission Election offices.
    • What: Delivering connectivity services via the SES-9 satellite.
    • Why: Increase connectivity for government operations and digital services in remote regions of the Philippines.
  6. HEO's Funding and Expansion

    • Who: Australian startup HEO, Satellogic, AxelSpace, Australian Space Agency.
    • What: Raised $8 million in Series A funding to enhance satellite imagery services.
    • Why: To expand space situational awareness and satellite-to-satellite imagery capabilities.
  7. Momentus and FOSSA Systems Collaboration

    • Who: Momentus, FOSSA Systems.
    • What: Signed a contract for hosted payload services starting in 2024.
    • Why: Complement FOSSA’s IoT satellite constellation and demonstrate new technology.
  8. SAB Launch Services and ESA Partnership

    • Who: Italian-based SAB Launch Services, European Space Agency (ESA).
    • What: Exploring partnership opportunities between IOSHEX orbital vehicle and ESA's Space Rider vehicle.
    • Why: Enhance capabilities and utilize rideshare payload adapters for secondary missions in low orbit.
  9. Space Foundation’s Partnership with Netherlands

    • Who: Space Foundation’s Commerce Institute, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    • What: Announced a partnership to promote the Dutch space sector in the US.
    • Why: Strengthen international space sector collaborations and promote space-related businesses.
  10. Featured interview (sponsored): Giulia Salmaso and Salvatore Grignano from the Italian Trade Agency on their new accelerator program “Space It Up”. You can connect with Guilia, Salvatore and ITA on LinkedIn and learn more about Space It Up at Space.N2k.com/ITA.

Friday, 8/25/23: Pragyan shares its wisdom from the Moon.

  1. India's Lunar South Pole Mission

    • Who: India, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
    • What: Rover successfully lands on the lunar south pole; achievements celebrated in light of the mission's low cost relative to Hollywood space films.
    • Why: Showcasing India's capabilities in space exploration and advancements in lunar research, highlighting cost-effective achievements.
  2. Commercial Space in India

    • Who: Indian commercial companies including Larsen & Toubro, Hindustan Aeronautics, and Dhruva Space.
    • What: India's privatization of its small satellite launch rocket attracts bids from top companies.
    • Why: Growing interest in India's space industry and the rising potential for commercial investments.
  3. JAXA's SLIM Lunar Lander Launch

    • Who: Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
    • What: Launching the SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon) lunar lander and XRISM satellite.
    • Why: Aiming to investigate the Moon's origins and test exploration technologies in low-gravity environments.
  4. SpaceX's Starship Launch Rumors

    • Who: SpaceX, FAA
    • What: Rumored upcoming Starship launch pending results from the FAA’s investigation.
    • Why: Monitoring SpaceX's progress in space exploration and the regulatory oversight governing such launches.
  5. SpaceX's Hiring Discrimination Lawsuit

    • Who: U.S. Department of Justice, SpaceX
    • What: Lawsuit alleges SpaceX hiring discrimination against refugees and asylees.
    • Why: Raises issues about hiring practices in space companies and ITAR regulations.
  6. SpaceX Falcon 9 ISS Launch

    • Who: SpaceX, ISS
    • What: Delayed launch of international astronauts to the ISS.
    • Why: Space safety and debris concerns following the Chinese missile test in 2007.
  7. NASA and Roscosmos Collaboration

    • Who: NASA, Roscosmos
    • What: Reaffirmed collaboration and agreed on an extra Soyuz flight for an American astronaut.
    • Why: Sustaining international cooperation in space, despite geopolitical tensions on Earth.
  8. SPACs in the Space Economy

    • Who: Mission Control Acquisition Corporation, Kira Blackwell
    • What: SPAC aims to raise $100 million through an IPO for space economy investments.
    • Why: Growing financial interest in the potential of the global space economy.
  9. U.S. Space Force Challenge

    • Who: U.S. Space Force
    • What: Launching the "Tactically Responsive Space Challenge" for rapid satellite deployment solutions.
    • Why: Enhancing rapid response capabilities in space for emergency situations.
  10. Viasat Satellite Anomalies

    • Who: Viasat, Airbus
    • What: Recent satellite power subsystem anomaly and boom arm malfunction in Viasat's portfolio.
    • Why: Emphasizing the challenges and risks of space operations and satellite deployment.
  11. UN Meeting on Space Threats

    • Who: UN, EU member states
    • What: Commitment against conducting destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite tests.
    • Why: Promoting space safety and minimizing debris threats to the ISS and other satellites.
  12. Spinlaunch's Australian Plans

    • Who: Spinlaunch, Australian National University
    • What: Considering Western Australia's south coast for its orbital accelerator.
    • Why: Leveraging the geographic and geopolitical advantages of the location for space launches.
  13. Orbital Sidekick's Satellite Images

    • Who: Orbital Sidekick
    • What: Released images from its hyperspectral satellites capable of detecting methane leaks.
    • Why: Enhancing infrastructure oversight and detecting environmental concerns in real-time.
  14. Tomorrow.io's Weather Intelligence

    • Who: Tomorrow.io, Rocket Lab, NASA, Defense Department, NOAA
    • What: Data from radar satellites gauging precipitation intensity from space.
    • Why: Advancing weather prediction capabilities and filling global radar coverage gaps.
  15. Featured interview: Dhruva Space CEO and Co-founder Sanjay Nekkanti. You can connect with Sanjay on LinkedIn and learn more about Dhruva Space on their website.

Saturday, 8/26/23: India’s new space mission with Dhruva Space’s CEO Sanjay Nekkanti.

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