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Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 12 | 07.03.23

VCs do not like green eggs and SAM. Go Look Up Space. Budgets, busts, and booms in the space militarization market. Satellites in my eyes. 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, 6/26/23: VCs do not like green eggs and SAM.

  1. VCs and Tech Firms Urge DoD to Reform Procurement Procedures

    • Who: 13 executives from various venture capital firms and technology companies.
    • What: A letter has been sent to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin asking for changes in military procurement procedures for cutting-edge technology. The letter calls for more grant funds, more flexible cost accounting rules, and an increase in the funds allocated for annual procurements.
    • Why: The letter asserts that outdated methods of developing requirements and selecting technologies are limiting the Department of Defense’s access to top commercial innovations. The request aims to modernize procurement procedures and enable a smoother and more efficient funding process for technological advancements in the defense sector.
  2. Final Ariane 5 Launch Date Set

    • Who: European Space Agency (ESA), ArianeSpace.
    • What: The final Ariane 5 launch, delayed due to issues with pyrotechnic systems, is now set for July 4th.
    • Why: This is the 117th and final mission for Ariane 5, which has served as ESA's primary rocket for rideshares and cargo missions since its introduction in 1996. Its successor, the Ariane 6, will take over.
  3. Virgin Galactic's First Commercial Flight

    • Who: Virgin Galactic, the Italian Air Force and National Research Council.
    • What: Virgin Galactic has announced that it is targeting June 29th for its first commercial spaceflight. Passengers for this mission include members from the Italian Air Force and National Research Council, and a Virgin Galactic astronaut trainer.
    • Why: The passengers are expected to conduct scientific research experiments during the suborbital mission. This marks a significant step for Virgin Galactic in realizing their goal of commercial space travel.
  4. Anduril Industries Acquires Solid Rocket Motor Manufacturer Adranos

    • Who: Anduril Industries, Adranos.
    • What: California-based defense technology company Anduril Industries has acquired solid rocket motor manufacturer Adranos.
    • Why: Anduril plans to update Adranos’ production complex to modernize its manufacturing capabilities, increasing the output of solid rocket motors. This will position Anduril as a supplier to prime contractors delivering propulsion systems for the US Department of Defense.
  5. ESA Launches Tender for Mini-Constellation Demonstration

    • Who: European Space Agency (ESA).
    • What: ESA has launched an Invitation to Tender for companies to participate in a mini-constellation demonstration, comprising at least ten satellites in low earth orbit, to provide Positioning, Navigation, and Timing services.
    • Why: This initiative seeks to enhance ESA's existing Galileo Constellation by demonstrating an improved and more efficient system for navigation services, particularly as the current system is nearing its performance limit.
  6. Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog Mission Starts

    • Who: Crew members at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
    • What: The crew has started the first of three planned Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) missions, which will involve living in a 3-D printed habitat known as Mars Dune Alpha for 12 months.
    • Why: The mission aims to simulate a Mars expedition to assess health and performance in relation to resource limitations, isolation, and confinement, aiding NASA's preparation for future Mars missions.
  7. ULA's Vulcan Centaur Rocket Maiden Flight Further Delayed

    • Who: United Launch Alliance (ULA), Astrobotic, Amazon's Project Kuiper, and Celestis.
    • What: The maiden flight of ULA's Vulcan Centaur rocket has been delayed due to required reinforcements to the Centaur upper stage following a hydrogen leak during a March test.
    • Why: While the timeline remains undisclosed, the Centaur stage will be returned to ULA's factory for modifications before further testing and rescheduling of the launch. The mission will carry payloads for Astrobotic, Amazon's Project Kuiper, and Celestis.
  8. Featured interview: Emily Dwinnells, Director of the Maine Spaceport Initiative, on the Maine space complex. You can connect with Emily on LinkedIn and learn about the Maine Space Complex on their website.

Tuesday, 6/27/23: Go Look Up Space.

  1. Look Up Space Raises Over $15m US dollars in Seed Round

    • Who: Look Up Space, a new European company focused on space situational awareness and space sustainability.
    • What: The company raised over $15.3 million US dollars, making it the second largest seed round in European space history.
    • Why: Led by experienced aerospace professionals, Look Up Space aims to become a world leader in space security and will likely attract more investors given their recent fundraising success.
  2. US District Court Sides with SES in Dispute with IntelSat

    • Who: Satellite operators SES and IntelSat.
    • What: A US District Court judge sided with SES in a dispute over a 50 percent claim amounting to $421 million US dollars of IntelSat’s C-band proceeds.
    • Why: The decision comes amid a broader conflict between the two giants over a C-band payout. This ongoing legal wrangling could have significant implications for the companies and the wider industry.
  3. US and UK Space Agencies Partner on Space Domain Awareness

    • Who: UK Space Command, US SPACECOM, and commercial space organizations.
    • What: A Joint Task Force Space-Defense Commercial Operations Cell (JCO) was launched in the UK to enhance space monitoring in collaboration with the US and commercial space organizations.
    • Why: The establishment of JCO-UK is aimed at enhancing space domain awareness and forms part of a broader initiative to invest more than £85M in this area over the next decade.
  4. Successful Test of HT100 Compact Electric Propulsion System

    • Who: Sitael, an Italian space technology company.
    • What: The company's advanced compact electric propulsion system, the HT100, successfully completed an extended qualification firing test.
    • Why: The system will be deployed on an ESA-supported microsatellite demonstration mission later this year, marking a significant milestone in propulsion technology.
  5. Germany, France, and Japan Develop Rover for Phobos Exploration

    • Who: The German Aerospace Center, the French National Center of Space Studies, and JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
    • What: The three agencies are jointly developing a rover to explore Phobos, one of Mars' moons.
    • Why: The Martian Moons Exploration mission aims to ascertain the origins of Phobos and Deimos, potentially offering clues about Mars' geological history.
  6. China and Egypt Mark Space Cooperation Milestone

    • Who: China and Egypt.
    • What: The countries marked a significant space cooperation milestone with the handover of two models of the jointly-developed MisrSat-2 remote-sensing satellite.
    • Why: This project represents China's first international space cooperation initiative that uses overseas facilities for the entire satellite assembly, integration, testing, and delivery of satellite models.
  7. Tianwen-2 Asteroid Sample Return Mission Update

    • Who: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, China's main space contractor.
    • What: The corporation has conducted high-altitude parachute tests for the Tianwen-2 asteroid sample return mission.
    • Why: The tests form part of preparations for the mission, which is scheduled for May 2025 and aims to return samples from the near-Earth asteroid 469219 Kamoʻoalewa.
  8. Debris from North Korea's Failed Satellite Launch Recovered

    • Who: South Korea and North Korea.
    • What: South Korea has recovered debris, including what is believed to be North Korea's first failed spy satellite, Malligyong-1.
    • Why: The recovery provides a chance to examine the spacecraft and its intended capabilities, offering insights into North Korea's space and missile programs.
  9. LIA Aerospace Reveals Biofuel-Powered Reusable Rockets

    • Who: LIA Aerospace, an Argentinian company.
    • What: The company revealed its BP100 and BP200 propulsion systems, designed for satellite and spacecraft orbital maneuvers.
    • Why: The systems' affordability, sustainability, and reliability have propelled the company into the European Space Agency’s Incubation Program, and new facilities are set to open in Argentina by the end of the year.
  10. Featured interview: Derrick Walker, team lead for Brigham Young University Rocket Team on bringing home the 2023 Spaceport America Cup. You can find out more about the BYU Rocketry Team on their website and follow them on LinkedIn.

Wednesday, 6/28/23: Budgets, busts, and booms in the space militarization market.

  1. House Appropriations Committee Recommends Cuts to the Space Force's FY24 Requests

    • Who: House Appropriations Committee, U.S. Space Force
    • What: The committee approved an $826.4 billion defense budget for fiscal year 2024, proposing nearly $1 billion in cuts from the U.S. Space Force's $30 billion request, citing performance concerns.
    • Why: The recommendations underscore the importance of effective performance, planning, and justification in the acquisition and funding of space programs.
  2. Space Militarization Market Expected to Grow

    • Who: Market and Markets report, major space militarization manufacturers, primarily in the US.
    • What: The report expects the Space Militarization Market, valued at $53.7 billion in 2023, to reach $88.6 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4%.
    • Why: Increasing geopolitical tensions and advancements in the space sector are the driving factors for growth.
  3. Space Delta 9 Preparing for Potential Conflicts

    • Who: Space Delta 9, a unit of the U.S. Space Force, Russia, China.
    • What: Space Delta 9 is training guardians in offensive and defensive strategies to preserve access to space, in response to potential provocations from Russia and China.
    • Why: With the rapid growth of the in-space economy, there is a need to develop strategies to maintain space superiority and security.
  4. Ramon.Space Raises $26 Million

    • Who: Ramon.Space, Ingrasys, a subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group, and the Strategic Development Fund, an Abu Dhabi-based investment firm.
    • What: Ramon.Space raised $26 million US dollars to continue developing its space-resilient computing infrastructure.
    • Why: Ramon.Space’s platform provides essential storage, computing, and connectivity capabilities for space missions.
  5. Odin Space Successfully Demonstrates Debris Sensor Technology

    • Who: Odin Space, a British space startup.
    • What: Odin Space demonstrated the successful operation of its space debris sensor technology in orbit.
    • Why: This step brings the company closer to producing its fully commercial sensor, capable of mapping small space debris, which is essential for the safety of space operations.
  6. Airmo Raises $5.7 Million for Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Satellite

    • Who: Airmo, a German startup.
    • What: Airmo raised $5.7 million in a pre-seed funding round to launch a satellite constellation to monitor greenhouse gasses.
    • Why: The company’s satellite, equipped with advanced technology, will provide precise and near real-time insights into the human impact on the climate.
  7. PLD Space Delays Test Flight

    • Who: PLD Space, a Spanish suborbital rocket company.
    • What: The company delayed its first test flight due to weather conditions and restrictions to prevent wildfires.
    • Why: The delay underscores the challenges faced by rocket launch companies in managing schedules and navigating regulatory and environmental considerations.
  8. Fleet Space Awarded Over $2.5 Million for Moon to Mars Program

    • Who: Fleet Space, an Australian startup, and the Australian Space Agency.
    • What: Fleet Space was awarded over $2.5 million for its Moon to Mars: Demonstrator program.
    • Why: The mission aims to explore the Moon and Mars, contributing to international efforts to expand our knowledge and presence in the solar system.
  9. United Nations Appoints Aarti Holla-Maini as Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs

    • Who: Aarti Holla-Maini, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
    • What: The United Nations has announced the appointment of Aarti Holla-Maini as the director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs.
    • Why: Holla-Maini's extensive experience in the space sector will be valuable in leading the office and addressing global space-related challenges and opportunities.
  10. Featured interview: Joshua Western, CEO of Space Forge, on in-space manufacturing. You can connect with Joshua on LinkedIn and find out more about Space Forge on their website.

Thursday, 6/29/23: Satellites in my eyes.

  1. Russian Satellite Provider Hacked

    • Who: Russian satellite communications provider Dozor-Teleport.
    • What: The company was reportedly targeted by hackers linked to the paramilitary group, Wagner, causing damage to infrastructure and user terminals.
    • Why: This could signify a growing trend of cyberattacks on satellite networks, hinting at potential cybersecurity threats within the space industry.
  2. AST SpaceMobile's Public Offering

    • Who: Texas-based satellite company, AST SpaceMobile.
    • What: The company has announced a public offering of 12 million shares of its Class A common stock, which led to a nearly 28% drop in value of the company's stock.
    • Why: The public offering, which could dilute current stakes, has sparked a negative response among investors and contributed to the company's stock value's plunge.
  3. Contract Awarded to SES

    • Who: The US Department of Defense and global satellite operator SES.
    • What: SES has been awarded a $134 million contract by the US Department of Defense for global X-Band satellite capacity, teleport, and network services.
    • Why: This highlights the continued reliance on private companies for military satellite communication services and the growth potential for such services.
  4. OneWeb's Constellation Service Extension

    • Who: OneWeb, a global communications company.
    • What: OneWeb has extended its communications constellation service across Europe and the US.
    • Why: As OneWeb continues to increase its satellite count, it expands its service area, positioning itself as a strong contender in the global communications industry.
  5. Virgin Galactic's First Commercial Spaceflight

    • Who: Virgin Galactic.
    • What: Virgin Galactic launched its first paying customers to space, conducting human-tended experiments during the flight.
    • Why: This marks a significant milestone for Virgin Galactic and the commercial space tourism industry as a whole.
  6. King Charles III's Space Sustainability Initiative

    • Who: King Charles III of England.
    • What: He hosted a meeting at Buckingham Palace to unveil his Astra Carta, an initiative aimed at promoting sustainable practices across the global space industry.
    • Why: This initiative emphasizes the importance of sustainability in space activities and its potential role in creating a more sustainable future on Earth.
  7. Spire Global and OroraTech's Agreement

    • Who: Spire Global and OroraTech, a space-based thermal intelligence company.
    • What: They have signed an agreement to build, launch and operate an eight-satellite constellation dedicated to tracking and monitoring wildfires.
    • Why: Once operational, this will be the first and largest constellation of its kind, signaling a significant advancement in wildfire monitoring and prevention efforts.
  8. Redwire's Contract with Boeing

    • Who: Redwire Corporation and Boeing.
    • What: Redwire has been awarded a follow-on contract from Boeing to develop two additional Roll-Out Solar Arrays for the International Space Station.
    • Why: This further signifies the importance of maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure of the International Space Station.
  9. Development of Multiple U.S. Spaceports

    • Who: Various states across the U.S., including Maine and Nevada.
    • What: New spaceports are being planned in multiple U.S. states, aiming to become hubs for commercial space operations.
    • Why: This marks a growing interest and investment in commercial space activities across the U.S., suggesting the potential for more regions to become players in the space industry.
  10. Featured interview: Via Van Liew, Principal Director of DEI at Aerospace Corporation. You can connect with Via on LinkedIn and find out more about the Space Workforce 2030 program on their website.

Friday, 6/30/23: And the whole is greater than the part.

  1. SpaceX to Launch ESA's Euclid Telescope

    • Who: SpaceX, European Space Agency (ESA)
    • What: SpaceX's Falcon 9 is set to launch the ESA's Euclid telescope into orbit. Euclid is named after the ancient Greek mathematician and its mission is to map the universe in 3D, studying billions of galaxies to answer fundamental questions about the universe.
    • Why: This mission is significant because it will provide new insights into the evolution of the universe, its composition, and its physical laws.
  2. Vega-C Launcher Experiences another Setback

    • Who: Avio, Italian space propulsion company
    • What: During a static firing test of the Zefiro 40 motor, an anomaly was revealed, which will require further investigation and testing.
    • Why: The Vega C launcher is an important project in the European space industry. Ensuring its reliable performance is key for future missions and maintaining European competitiveness in the space sector.
  3. Progress for Viasat’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission

    • Who: Viasat
    • What: Viasat announced that the first of two satellites for the Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission has successfully completed thermal vacuum testing.
    • Why: The mission aims to connect users in the Far North with high-speed broadband in 2024, which would significantly improve communication capabilities in this remote region.
  4. SDA Calls for 100 New Satellites

    • Who: US Space Force’s Space Development Agency (SDA)
    • What: The SDA has opened bidding for 100 new satellites for its planned low Earth orbit constellation.
    • Why: The constellation will provide military users with high-speed, high-volume data communications worldwide, reinforcing the military's operational capabilities.
  5. Lockheed Martin Partners with Firefly Aerospace

    • Who: Lockheed Martin, Firefly Aerospace
    • What: Lockheed Martin has signed an agreement with Firefly Aerospace to support a technology demonstration mission that will launch aboard Firefly’s Alpha vehicle.
    • Why: The details of the mission are not yet disclosed, but collaborations between industry giants like Lockheed Martin and innovative startups like Firefly Aerospace can yield novel solutions and advancements in space technology.
  6. NASA's VIPER Begins Operational Tests

    • Who: NASA
    • What: NASA's VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) has begun operational tests at the Ames Research Center.
    • Why: VIPER will seek out and collect water-ice samples on the Moon, contributing to plans for establishing a lunar base.
  7. Australian Space Agency Awards Contract to Advanced Navigation

    • Who: Australian Space Agency, Advanced Navigation
    • What: The agency awarded a contract worth 5.2 million Australian dollars to Advanced Navigation to develop LUNA sensor technology.
    • Why: This sensor will be integral to the autonomous capabilities of Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lunar lander, part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
  8. Maxar and International Justice Mission to Monitor Human Trafficking

    • Who: Maxar, International Justice Mission
    • What: Maxar is partnering with the International Justice Mission to use satellite imagery to monitor hotspots for human trafficking.
    • Why: This initiative is part of broader efforts to use satellite data for humanitarian purposes, to detect and combat human trafficking on a global scale.
  9. Featured interview: Frank White. Frank’s book "The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution," describes the cognitive shift that results when viewing the Earth from space. You can connect with Frank on LinkedIn and find out more about his books on his website.

Saturday, 7/01/23: Frank White and the Overview Effect.

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