<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=205228923362421&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 21 | 09.04.23

Houston, it’s a little cozy up here. Starfish saves the Otter Pup. VICTUS NOX on standby for callup. Africa’s space industry is about to lift off. And more!



Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 21 | 09.04.23

Houston, it’s a little cozy up here. Starfish saves the Otter Pup. VICTUS NOX on standby for callup. Africa’s space industry is about to lift off. 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, 8/28/23: Houston, it’s a little cozy up here. 

  1. NASA's SpaceX Crew-7 Mission to the ISS

    • Who: NASA, SpaceX, Crew 7 members (NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov).
    • What: Crew 7 successfully launched and docked with the International Space Station.
    • Why: This mission is a part of the transition from Expedition 69 to Expedition 70 aboard the ISS in 2024.
  2. Japan's XRISM and SLIM Launch Delay

    • Who: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
    • What: Launch of the XRISM and SLIM lunar probes was postponed due to high winds.
    • Why: The launch is significant for Japan's space research, but typhoons in the region have caused multiple delays.
  3. India’s Vikram Lander ChaSTE Payload

    • Who: India’s space research organization (ISRO).
    • What: The ChaSTE payload has sent back scientific data about the lunar topsoil temperature around the pole.
    • Why: This research aims to understand the thermal behavior of the moon's surface, with the data being the first of its kind for the lunar south pole.
  4. Voyager Space Contract

    • Who: Voyager Space, US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.
    • What: Voyager Space was awarded a ceiling indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract.
    • Why: The contract aims to yield cost-effective warfighting capabilities, but the real value of the award remains to be seen.
  5. TacRS System Development by Space Force & DIU

    • Who: US Space Force, Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
    • What: Seeking commercial solutions for on-orbit TacRS (Tactically Responsive Space) systems to counter space-based threats.
    • Why: To rapidly respond to potential space threats with demonstrations culminating in the VICTUS HAZE operational demo.
  6. Exotrail and Muon Space Contract

    • Who: Exotrail, Muon Space.
    • What: Exotrail signed a contract to provide electric propulsion systems for Muon Space’s climate monitoring satellites.
    • Why: This partnership will advance the next phase of Muon Space's mission to monitor Earth's climate and ecosystems.
  7. Astranis's Arcturus Satellite Contract

    • Who: Astranis, an undisclosed national security space community partner.
    • What: A contract to demonstrate secure end-to-end communications using the Arcturus satellite.
    • Why: Showcases the potential for Astranis's MicroGEO in rapidly addressing national security communication needs.
  8. SCOUT Acquires Free Space Inc.

    • Who: Space technology company SCOUT, Free Space Inc.
    • What: SCOUT acquired Free Space Inc.
    • Why: The acquisition is intended to bolster SCOUT's defense and technical capabilities with the U.S. Department of Defense and other agencies.
  9. Virgin Galactic's Upcoming Commercial Spaceflight

    • Who: Virgin Galactic.
    • What: The next commercial spaceflight window opens on September 8th.
    • Why: Demonstrates Virgin Galactic's ramped-up activity and its economic impact on New Mexico's economy.
  10. SpaceX Starlink Group 6-11 Launch Milestone

    • Who: SpaceX.
    • What: The Starlink Group 6-11 launch marked the 100th FAA licensed space operation for the fiscal year 2023.
    • Why: Highlights the significant growth in the space industry and the anticipation for SpaceX's goal of 100 launches in 2023.
  11. Featured interview: Tim Gagnon, space artist and mission patch designer for NASA. You can connect with Tim on LinkedIn and find his work on his website.

Tuesday, 8/29/23: Starfish saves the Otter Pup.

  1. Satellite Internet Market Forecast

    • Who: MarketsandMarkets research firm.
    • What: Released a new report predicting the satellite internet market to be worth $17.1 billion by 2028.
    • Why: There is an increasing demand for internet access in remote and challenging locations, driving growth in the satellite internet sector.
  2. Starfish Space’s Otter Pup

    • Who: Starfish Space, a space company.
    • What: Successfully stabilized the Otter Pup after it faced spinning anomalies post-deployment.
    • Why: Demonstrates the potential for recovery in space operations, highlighting engineering resilience and innovation.
  3. Hurricane Delays ULA Launch

    • Who: United Launch Alliance (ULA), Space Systems Command, and the National Reconnaissance Office.
    • What: Delayed the Atlas 5 launch of the NROL-107 mission due to hurricane threats.
    • Why: To ensure safety given the unpredictable conditions caused by the hurricanes near Florida.
  4. NASA’s Air Pollution Monitoring

    • Who: NASA.
    • What: Released first data maps from the TEMPO instrument that observes nitrogen dioxide air pollution over North America.
    • Why: To better understand pollution sources and the exposure of populations to deteriorating air quality.
  5. NASA's Laser Communications Demo

    • Who: NASA.
    • What: Sending the ILLUMA-T to the ISS to demonstrate advancements in laser communications.
    • Why: To provide faster and more efficient communication from space, allowing for better data transmission.
  6. ISRO's Upcoming Solar Mission

    • Who: Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
    • What: Planning to launch its first solar observation mission, Aditya-L1.
    • Why: To study the sun and its influence on the Earth, further advancing India's space exploration capabilities.
  7. India’s Rocketry Success

    • Who: Skyroot, an Indian private space company.
    • What: Anticipating to double their rocket launches following India’s successful lunar mission.
    • Why: Increased interest and support in India’s space capabilities.
  8. China-South Africa Space Collaboration

    • Who: Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Africa.
    • What: Signed two agreements on space exploration activities.
    • Why: To establish a collaborative effort in lunar exploration and improve their global standing in space competition.
  9. GITAI’s Funding Round

    • Who: GITAI, a Japanese Space Robotics company.
    • What: Raised an additional $15 million in a Series B Extension round.
    • Why: To expand business operations in the U.S. and further develop their lunar surface demonstration.
  10. Space Florida's New Leadership

    • Who: Space Florida’s board of directors.
    • What: Selected Col. Robert A. Long as its next president and CEO.
    • Why: To leverage his experience from his prior role at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
  11. Featured interview: Intellectual Property Lawyer Kyriacos Tsircou on space startups navigating IP hurdles. You can connect with Kyri on LinkedIn and learn more about his work on his website.

Wednesday, 8/30/23: Space is hard. And it smells of rotten eggs.

  1. SpiderOak’s OrbitSecure Demonstrated on the ISS

    • Who: SpiderOak, a space cybersecurity firm.
    • What: Successfully demonstrated its OrbitSecure encryption technology aboard the International Space Station, partnering with Axiom Space which provided the Snowcone (an Amazon Web Service-powered edge computing device) for the demo.
    • Why: Aims to secure space systems communications from ground to space and vice versa, especially as space systems become more intricate and interconnected.
  2. SAIC's Ground Radar Systems Contract with US Space Force

    • Who: Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC).
    • What: Awarded a $574.5 million dollar task order to update and maintain a global network of ground based radar systems for the US Space Force.
    • Why: To identify and detect missile threats, monitor the low-Earth orbit, and track deep space objects, ensuring continuity after Northrop Grumman's previous maintenance contract.
  3. TransAstra’s Orbital Debris Capture Bag

    • Who: Space logistics startup TransAstra.
    • What: Received a NASA contract worth $850,000 US dollars to create an inflatable bag to capture orbital debris in space.
    • Why: Addressing the growing problem of space debris, which poses risks to satellites and spacecraft.
  4. US Space Force and South Korea Collaboration

    • Who: US Space Force and South Korea.
    • What: Integrating systems for tracking North Korean missile launches and planning further cooperation with Japan.
    • Why: To enhance tracking capabilities against North Korean threats and better respond to potential conflicts.
  5. NASA’s Preparation for Artemis 2 Lunar Orbit

    • Who: NASA.
    • What: Training astronauts using Lunar Reconnaissance Rover (LRO) data to identify lunar landmarks and geological features in preparation for the Artemis 2 mission.
    • Why: Prepares astronauts for the first crewed lunar orbit since 1972, laying groundwork for future lunar exploration missions.
  6. Chandrayaan 3's Lunar Discoveries

    • Who: India's Pragyan lunar rover from Chandrayaan 3.
    • What: Detected sulfur and other elements on the Moon using the Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument.
    • Why: Provides new insights into the Moon's composition, particularly near the south pole, which could influence future lunar missions and scientific studies.
  7. SatSure's Series A Funding

    • Who: Indian Earth observation data and analytics firm SatSure.
    • What: Raised $15 million in a series A funding round, with plans to build and launch four high-resolution optical and multispectral satellites.
    • Why: To expand its satellite fleet for better Earth observation and grow operations globally.
  8. SaxaVord’s Suborbital Launches in the UK

    • Who: SaxaVord Spaceport and UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
    • What: Received CAA confirmation that suborbital launches can proceed without a spaceport license, provided they stay below 50 kilometers in altitude.
    • Why: Allows for the maiden flight of the HyImpulse SR75 rocket and promotes the UK as a hub for space launches.
  9. Azerbaijan's Space Legislation

    • Who: Azerbaijan.
    • What: Introduced the Law on Space Activities, encompassing all aspects of the country's space endeavors.
    • Why: Sets the legal, economic, and organizational groundwork for space activity in Azerbaijan, ensuring safety, regulation, and future growth in the nation's space industry.
  10. Anniversary of Dr. Guion Bluford's Space Mission

    • Who: Dr. Guion Bluford, the first African American astronaut in space.
    • What: Celebrates the 40th anniversary of his inaugural mission to space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.
    • Why: Recognizes Bluford's pioneering contributions to space exploration and his historical significance as the first African American astronaut.
  11. Featured interview: Charles Rath, Founder and CEO of RS21. You can connect with Charles on LinkedIn and learn more about RS21 on their website.

Thursday, 8/31/23: VICTUS NOX on standby for callup.

  1. VICTUS NOX Mission with Firefly Aerospace and Millennium Space

    • Who: Firefly Aerospace, Millennium Space, and US Space Systems Command.
    • What: Firefly and Millennium are on "hot standby" for the tactically responsive space mission called VICTUS NOX, aiming to prep a payload for launch within 84 hours. The initial alert will go to Millennium, who will have 60 hours to deliver its satellite to Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, fuel the spacecraft and integrate it onto Firefly’s Alpha rocket’s payload adaptor. Then, 24 hours prior to the mission, the service will call on Firefly to complete its final pre-launch preparations, which includes attaching the payload to its vehicle.
    • Why: This rapid-response mission enhances the U.S.'s ability to address on-orbit needs crucial for national defense and maintaining dominance in space.
  2. US Space Force's Cooperation with Japan

    • Who: US Space Force and Japan.
    • What: A new subordinate command is being set up in Japan to strengthen space cooperation.
    • Why: Boosting ties with allies to increase the shared space capabilities and mutual support.
  3. SpaceX and KDDI Collaboration

    • Who: KDDI (Japanese telecom company) and SpaceX.
    • What: An agreement to provide satellite-to-cellular service using Starlink satellites and KDDI wireless spectrum.
    • Why: To enhance communication services, starting with SMS text services next year.
  4. QinetiQ's Contract with Space Development Agency

    • Who: QinetiQ's U.S. subsidiary and the Space Development Agency (SDA).
    • What: A five-year, $224 million contract for support services for a missile tracking satellite network in low-Earth orbit.
    • Why: To enhance defense systems by monitoring missile activities globally.
  5. NOAA's SMBA Phase-A Study Contracts

    • Who: NASA on behalf of NOAA.
    • What: Contracts awarded to companies, including Spire Global, for the SMBA Phase-A study.
    • Why: To develop instruments providing critical atmospheric data for improved weather forecasting.
  6. ReOrbit's Seed Funding Round

    • Who: Helsinki-based company ReOrbit.
    • What: Completed an oversubscribed Seed funding round raising $7.4 million.
    • Why: Funding will support ReOrbit's mission to enable real-time space dataflow and enhance its services in Earth Observation and Satellite Communication.
  7. AAC Clyde Space's Profit Jump

    • Who: AAC Clyde Space.
    • What: A 53% increase in net profit reported in their interim annual report.
    • Why: Indicates the growing success and demand for small satellite technologies and services.
  8. Polaris Spaceplane's MIRA-Light Maiden Flight

    • Who: German aerospace start-up POLARIS Raumflugzeuge GmbH.
    • What: Successful maiden flight of MIRA-Light, a precursor to the full-scale MIRA spaceplane.
    • Why: Testing and refining flight control systems for their larger MIRA spacecraft, aiming for increased space transport efficiency.
  9. AstroCardia Project on the ISS

    • Who: Five Belgian companies and research centers.
    • What: Collaboration on the AstroCardia project to study heart aging in space.
    • Why: The project uses a ‘heart-on-a-chip’ developed with 3D bioprinting to understand heart aging in microgravity conditions.
  10. Spiral Blue's 'Your Code In Space' Initiative

    • Who: Australian company Spiral Blue.
    • What: Launch of the initiative allowing individuals worldwide to run their code on Spiral Blue's SE-1 space edge computer.
    • Why: Facilitates real-time AI processing on satellite imagery, democratizing access to space insights.
  11. Cybersecurity and Space Force at Cyber Command

    • Who: US Space Force, US Cyber Command
    • What: Discussions on integrating a new Space Force component at Cyber command.
    • Why: To enhance space cybersecurity, recognizing the growing threats and vulnerabilities in the cyber domain.
  12. Featured interview: Aravind Ravichandran, the Founder and CEO of Terrawatch Space. You can connect with Aravind on LinkedIn and find out more about TerraWatch Space on their website.

Friday, 9/01/23: Africa’s space industry is about to lift off.

  1. The African Space Industry 2023 Report

    • Who: The African Space Industry.
    • What: Released its 2023 report detailing growth in Africa's space economy, which is projected to be valued at $22.64 billion USD by 2026. It highlights priorities like UN's Sustainable Development Goals, with focus on earth observation capabilities and digital inclusion. The report also mentions investments by 15 African nations in 58 satellite projects, the expansion of space infrastructure, and the emergence of 318 new space companies.
    • Why: The rapid growth of Africa's space economy is becoming significant in the global space market.
  2. SDA Tranche 0 Satellites Delayed

    • Who: US Space Force and SpaceX.
    • What: Launch of 13 Tranche 0 Space Development Agency satellites has been delayed and is now scheduled for lift-off from California's Vandenberg Space Force Base.
    • Why: Delays in space launches are common, and this specific delay impacts US space operations.
  3. Amazon's Launch Contract Controversy

    • Who: Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and Blue Origin.
    • What: A shareholder lawsuit alleges Amazon failed to adequately consider other options before awarding launch contracts for the Project Kuiper satellite program to Blue Origin.
    • Why: The contracts are a significant expenditure for Amazon, and the lawsuit questions the company's decision-making process.
  4. Lunar Crater from Luna-25 Module Crash

    • Who: NASA and Russian Luna-25 module.
    • What: NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captures images of a 10-meter crater caused by the crash of Russia's Luna-25 module.
    • Why: Highlighting the consequences and evidences of space missions that don't go as planned.
  5. China's New Crewed Spacecraft Naming

    • Who: The Chinese space agency.
    • What: Public solicitation for names for a new crewed spacecraft and moon lander. Plans to land the first Chinese person on the moon by 2030.
    • Why: China's ambitious plans for lunar exploration and involving public in space programs.
  6. Intuitive Machines Capital Boost

    • Who: Commercial lunar lander company Intuitive Machines.
    • What: Secured $20 million USD in capital through a securities purchase agreement with an undisclosed institutional investor.
    • Why: Funding for continued development of lunar space technology and upcoming launches.
  7. MDA Acquires SatixFy Space Systems UK

    • Who: Space tech company MDA and SatixFy Space Systems UK.
    • What: MDA acquired the digital payload division of SatixFy Space Systems and will integrate it into their existing UK subsidiary.
    • Why: Expansion and integration of advanced space tech capabilities.
  8.  Featured interview: Africa Space Policy Analyst Ruvimbo Samanga. You can connect with Ruvimbo on LinkedIn.

Saturday, 9/02/23: Africa space policy with Ruvimbo Samanga.

Similar posts

Stay in the loop on new releases. 

Subscribe below to receive information about new blog posts, podcasts, newsletters, and product information.