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Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 15 | 07.24.23

How’d you solve a problem like a space launch? In the business of space, the only way is up. Sales and stock soars in space. We still choose to go to the moon. 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, 7/17/23: How’d you solve a problem like a space launch?

  1. UK Reviews Licensing Regime for Spaceport Launch

    • Who: The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), House of Commons Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, Virgin Orbit, Space Forge, and SaxaVord Spaceport.
    • What: The regulatory approval process for receiving a launch license from the CAA is under scrutiny, with complaints of it being burdensome and causing delays for launches. A report by the House of Commons Science, Innovation, and Technology Committee agrees with this sentiment. The CAA has responded by planning changes to the licensing process.
    • Why: As the number of planned or announced spaceports in the world is increasing significantly, it's important for the regulatory process to be smooth and efficient. If the process is too cumbersome, the UK risks losing business to other nations.
  2. US Commercial Space Legislation Developments

    • Who: US House Science Committee, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and industry voices.
    • What: Discussions are being held around a preliminary commercial space bill, with considerations on the future of commercial spaceflight regulations and which US agency should oversee them. Meanwhile, the FAA's "learning period" may also be extended, offering more time to develop these regulations.
    • Why: The aim is to keep US commercial spaceflight internationally competitive while ensuring proper oversight.
  3. Proposal of the "Enhancing Spaceport Operations Act"

    • Who: US Senator Marco Rubio, the U.S. Space Force, and commercial space industry.
    • What: Senator Rubio proposed a bill to give military departments the authority to support federal and commercial space launches using domestic military installations. This could include supplying services, equipment, and construction aid, but would also require reimbursement for direct and possibly indirect costs.
    • Why: This legislation aims to reduce taxpayer burden and foster increased cooperation in the space sector, which may directly benefit operations like Space Launch Delta 45 and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
  4. Update to National Space Security Program

    • Who: US Space Systems Command.
    • What: An update to the next phase of the National Space Security Program has been announced, opening up a potential opportunity for a third commercial space launch provider.
    • Why: This development reflects the growth of the commercial space sector and may provide additional support for space lift requirements.
  5. SpaceX Continues to Set Records

    • Who: SpaceX.
    • What: SpaceX has tied its own record with the 16th flight of a Falcon 9 booster, which carried 54 new Starlink satellites to orbit. This will be the last set of version 1.5 satellites as SpaceX transitions to Version 2.
    • Why: These regular and successful launches highlight the rapid advances in reusability and the potential for more affordable and frequent space access.
  6. Space Debris from (probable) Indian Rocket Found in Australia

    • Who: Beachgoers in Green Head, Australia.
    • What: A piece of space debris, possibly a fuel cylinder from the third stage of India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, washed up on a remote beach.
    • Why: While the object was deemed safe, such incidents underline the growing issue of space debris and the need for more robust tracking and management systems.
  7. Op-ed on the Growing Demand for Sovereign Space Systems

    • Who: Via Satellite.
    • What: A provided op-ed discusses the increasing trend of nations with limited space infrastructure choosing to buy their own satellites for communication and observation.
    • Why: This demonstrates a growing recognition of the strategic importance of space capabilities for national interests.
  8. Featured interview: Tom Stroup, President of the Satellite Industry Association, on the SIA's mission and broadband initiatives. You can connect with Tom on LinkedIn and find out more about SIA on their website.

Tuesday, 7/18/23: In the business of space, the only way is up.

  1. Space Investment Stabilizes and UK Rises in Rankings

    • Who: Private space industry and UK's emerging space sector
    • What: Private investment in the space industry is stabilizing with a healthy $4.9 billion invested in space infrastructure companies during Q2. The UK is now third globally in space deals, showing an increased interest in space-based communications and internet ventures.
    • Why: This suggests a renewed investor confidence and a trend towards a healthier, evolving space industry's financial landscape, with the UK emerging as a serious competitor.
  2. SpaceX's Revenue Projections Double

    • Who: SpaceX
    • What: SpaceX projects to double its revenue to $8 billion this year, which inspires renewed enthusiasm among investors.
    • Why: Despite a recent downturn in private tech valuations, SpaceX's robust financial health can spark investor interest and shape market dynamics.
  3. Firefly Aerospace Anticipates Oversubscribed Capital Raise

    • Who: Firefly Aerospace
    • What: Firefly Aerospace is close to announcing an oversubscribed capital raise following their successful orbital launch last year and recent acquisitions.
    • Why: This suggests a positive trend for the company, defying the struggles many space startups face when raising funds, and points to the industry's resilient attractiveness to investors.
  4. Rocket Lab's "Baby Come Back" Mission Successfully Launches

    • Who: Rocket Lab
    • What: Rocket Lab launched the 39th Electron mission, deploying various payloads into sun-synchronous orbit, with the rocket booster recovered for future reuse.
    • Why: Successful missions like this reinforce the reliability of private launch providers, pushing the boundaries of space technology and mission efficiency.
  5. US Pushing for Military Cooperation in Space

    • Who: US Military and global partners
    • What: The US is emphasizing the necessity of military cooperation in space, underlining the fundamental role of space in modern warfare.
    • Why: Given the increasing development of space capabilities by potential adversaries, maintaining a strategic edge and ensuring secure access to space are becoming critical issues.
  6. General Saltzman Stresses the Defense of European Satellites

    • Who: General Chance Saltzman, US Chief of Space Operations
    • What: General Saltzman has stressed the need to defend European satellites against attacks, declaring any destruction of friendly satellites an act of war.
    • Why: His statements underscore the international tensions and strategic importance of space assets, necessitating an escalated defense posture.
  7. US Senate Considers Independent Cyber Force

    • Who: US Senate and Department of Defense
    • What: The Senate is discussing the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act proposing a separate service for cyber operations or refining the current US Cyber Command approach.
    • Why: In light of rising cyber threats, this proposal signifies an attempt to enhance the country's cyber defense capability and further develop its military posture.
  8. Space Command HQ Funding Halted

    • Who: US Space Command and the decision-makers regarding its headquarters
    • What: Funding for the new National Space Defense Center building at Schriever Space Force Base has been halted.
    • Why: This event is the latest twist in the ongoing saga of establishing a permanent headquarters for Space Command, emphasizing the bureaucratic and political challenges involved in such endeavors.
  9. LightRidge Solutions Acquires Trident Systems

    • Who: LightRidge Solutions and Trident Systems
    • What: LightRidge Solutions has acquired Trident Systems, a provider of high-performance space electronics and C4ISR solutions. The financial details of the transaction remain undisclosed.
    • Why: Mergers and acquisitions within the space industry are signals of strategic moves and industry consolidation, enabling stronger competitive positioning.
  10. Featured interview: Jonathan Dagle, Policy Committee Chair at the National Space Society. You can connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn and find out more about NSS on their website.

Wednesday, 7/19/23: Sales and stock soars in space.

  1. Lockheed Martin Ups Its 2023 Outlook

    • Who: Lockheed Martin, and its Chairman, President, and CEO James Taiclet.
    • What: They announced an increase in sales in Q2 2023, thanks to the acceleration of space programs. As a result, they revised their 2023 sales and earnings outlook upward, now expecting between 66.25 and 66.75 billion dollars for the year.
    • Why: This boost suggests a positive growth in the space economy and the company's successful involvement in various space programs.
  2. Rocket Lab's Rising Stock Prices

    • Who: Rocket Lab.
    • What: The company's stock prices have doubled this year, reaching a 52-week high due to its successful launches.
    • Why: This is another sign of the space economy's potential rebound, as Rocket Lab's success indicates a growing investor confidence in commercial space ventures.
  3. China's Reusable Rocket Plan

    • Who: China's deputy chief engineer and designer of the manned space program, Yang Liwei.
    • What: Yang revealed plans for China to launch its first reusable rocket in 2027, aiming to accommodate seven astronauts.
    • Why: This signals China's ambitions to enhance their space capabilities and take a significant step towards creating a sustainable space economy.
  4. China's New Generation Space Satellite

    • Who: Director of the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
    • What: China's new generation space satellite, the eXTP project, is progressing steadily with detection capability expected to be 100 times greater than its predecessor.
    • Why: This demonstrates China's continued investment and advancements in space technology.
  5. Venezuela Joins China's ILRS

    • Who: China National Space Administration and the Bolivarian Space Agency of Venezuela.
    • What: Venezuela has become the 5th country to join China's International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) project.
    • Why: This partnership highlights China's growing international influence in space, and Venezuela's desire to progress in space research and technology.
  6. NASA's International Diplomacy

    • Who: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
    • What: Nelson is visiting Latin American countries to gather support for the Artemis Accords, a U.S. space cooperation initiative.
    • Why: Amid China's growing space influence, these visits underline NASA's efforts to maintain and strengthen its international alliances.
  7. NASA Earns 'A' Grade for Small Business Work

    • Who: NASA and the Small Business Administration.
    • What: NASA has been awarded an "A" for its work with small businesses, for the sixth consecutive year.
    • Why: This shows NASA's ongoing commitment to support small businesses and diversify the US space economy.
  8. Update on NASA's Psyche Spacecraft

    • Who: NASA's Psyche spacecraft team.
    • What: The spacecraft is set to launch in October, with the team recently completing a test campaign of the flight software.
    • Why: The successful mission could provide new insights into planetary cores and how planets form, advancing our understanding of the solar system.
  9. Above Space Development Corporation's NASA Agreement

    • Who: Above Space Development Corporation and NASA.
    • What: The two entities have signed a 5-year Umbrella Space Act Agreement which includes collaboration on various technologies.
    • Why: This partnership represents continued cooperation between NASA and commercial companies to advance space technology.
  10. Rush for the Lunar South Pole

    • Who: Russia and its Luna-25 vehicle.
    • What: Russia is preparing to send a vehicle to the Lunar south pole, known for its potential water resources.
    • Why: The mission underlines the global scramble to explore and potentially exploit the resources on the Moon.
  11. Aspia Space's Agricultural Tech

    • Who: Aspia Space.
    • What: The company has developed a tool that uses AI and satellite data to remotely measure grass height for farmers.
    • Why: This highlights the broad range of applications for space-based technology, including in agriculture.
  12. Hyperspace Challenge 2023

    • Who: The Hyperspace Challenge in partnership with the US Space Force’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office.
    • What: The challenge invites researchers and companies to explore innovative ways to enhance the resilience of space assets against threats.
    • Why: This emphasizes the importance of innovation and collaboration in securing space assets, and the increasing involvement of non-traditional sectors in space tech development.
  13. Featured interview: Justus Parmar, Founder of Fortuna Investments. You can connect with Justus on Linkedin and find out more from Fortuna Investments on their website.

Thursday, 7/20/23: We still choose to go to the moon.

  1. UK Space Agency (UKSA) releases Space Exploration Technology Roadmap

    • Who: UK Space Agency
    • What: UKSA has released a document outlining its plans and ambitions for the next decade, including its intention to be Europe's leading provider of small commercial launches by 2030, enhance autonomous vehicle and AI technology, and participate in lunar exploration. This document is expected to boost international investments and awareness about the UK's capabilities in the space industry.
    • Why: The UKSA's robust plans and significant investments signify its strong position and ambition in the new space race, possibly influencing the global space industry's strategic direction.
  2. United Arab Emirates and Turkey sign Space Cooperation Agreement

    • Who: United Arab Emirates and Turkey
    • What: Several agreements, including one concerning space exploration and technology, have been signed during President Erdogan's visit to Abu Dhabi. The specifics of the space deal are not yet known.
    • Why: Both countries have rapidly developing space programs, and this partnership could strengthen their positions in the global space community, likely affecting future space exploration and commercialization activities.
  3. PlanetiQ Secures NOAA Contract

    • Who: PlanetiQ and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
    • What: PlanetiQ has received an $8 million contract from NOAA to provide satellite data for weather forecasting and atmospheric research. This data will help profile the thermodynamic state of the atmosphere with high resolution and accuracy.
    • Why: As extreme weather events become more frequent due to climate change, access to high-quality meteorological data is crucial for preparedness and response. This contract highlights the increasing reliance on private sector technology for public sector services.
  4. SpaceX Continues its Ambitious Starlink Deployment

    • Who: SpaceX
    • What: Despite foggy weather, SpaceX successfully launched another 15 Starlink satellites into orbit, marking its 48th launch for the year. The company is halfway to its ambitious goal of 100 missions in a year.
    • Why: The Starlink project is a crucial part of SpaceX's plan to provide internet connectivity globally, particularly in remote areas. Its progress could significantly impact the global telecommunications industry.
  5. ASRC Federal Secures Contract to Maintain NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    • Who: ASRC Federal and NASA
    • What: ASRC Federal has been awarded a $320 million contract to perform Repairs, Operations, Maintenance and Engineering (ROME) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Wallops Flight Facility.
    • Why: The contract ensures that NASA's facilities are well-maintained, allowing the agency to continue its space exploration missions without operational hiccups.
  6. OQ Technology and Aramco Sign Memorandum of Understanding

    • Who: OQ Technology and Saudi oil and gas company Aramco
    • What: The Luxembourg-based satellite company and Aramco have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand Satellite IoT services and solutions for Aramco’s Intelligent Integrated Node technology.
    • Why: The agreement shows the increasing overlap of the energy and space industries and indicates how satellite technology is becoming an integral part of various sectors, including energy.
  7. Featured interview: Robert Aillon, founder of Leviathan Space Industries. You can connect with Robert on LinkedIn and find out more about Leviathan Space on their website.

Friday, 7/21/23: The geek, the nerd, and the wonk.

  1. Thales Alenia Space Wins ESA Contracts for Galileo Second Generation Infrastructure

    • Who: European Space Agency (ESA) and Thales Alenia Space
    • What: Thales Alenia Space won contracts from ESA to support the Galileo Second Generation (GSG) infrastructure. This includes a contract for the ground segment and system engineering activities, and a cybersecurity contract to protect sensitive satellite data.
    • Why: This is crucial as Thales Alenia Space is already making half of the new GSG satellites. These contracts further cement their role in the development of ESA's next-generation Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) infrastructure.
  2. German Startup Constellr Raises Funds for Thermal Imaging Satellites

    • Who: Constellr, a German thermal satellite data startup, and Karista, an investment firm
    • What: Constellr has raised 17 million euros in a seed round led by Karista to launch two new thermal imaging satellites.
    • Why: This funding is important as it will enable Constellr to scale up their services and meet global demand for thermal imaging data. This data has significant implications for the agricultural industry as it helps them adapt to and become more resilient against climate change.
  3. Ghana Approves National Space Policy

    • Who: The Government of Ghana
    • What: The Ghanaian government has approved a national space policy, which will allow governmental agencies to better leverage space technologies and coordinate how they consume data from satellites.
    • Why: This policy is expected to foster better public-private cooperation, grow the workforce, and facilitate the development of space-related infrastructure in Ghana.
  4. Amazon Constructs Kuiper Satellite Processing Facility

    • Who: Amazon and NASA's Kennedy Space Center
    • What: Amazon is investing $120 million in a new processing facility for its Kuiper internet satellites at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
    • Why: This is a significant move as part of Amazon's $10 billion investment into its broadband network. The Kuiper network, set to be operational in 2026, will rival SpaceX's Starlink.
  5. US House Approves FAA Reauthorization Bill

    • Who: The US House of Representatives and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
    • What: The House has approved a reauthorization bill for the FAA for the next five years, named the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act.
    • Why: This legislation, if passed, could see the FAA becoming more involved in space traffic management, providing a more cohesive approach to managing increasingly crowded space traffic.
  6. Change of Command at STAR Command

    • Who: US Space Training and Readiness Command (STAR Command)
    • What: STAR Command has had its first change of command ceremony, with Major General Shawn Bratton handing over to Brigadier General Timothy Sheyba.
    • Why: This is a significant moment in the development of the Space Force, which relies on STAR Command to oversee the country's network of military satellites.
  7. SpaceX’s Booster 9 at Orbital Launch Site

    • Who: SpaceX
    • What: SpaceX’s Booster 9 has arrived at the Orbital Launch Site, signaling a key milestone ahead of a Static Fire test and its second flight.
    • Why: This update is significant as it builds anticipation for the second flight of the world's most powerful rocket.
  8. Virgin Galactic Announces Passengers for Private Flight

    • Who: Virgin Galactic
    • What: Virgin Galactic announces the three passengers for their first tourist flight to space scheduled for August 10th.
    • Why: This marks a milestone in space tourism, with two women set to be the first to go to space from Antigua, and an octogenarian, former Olympian with Parkinson’s disease among the passengers.
  9. US Space Force to Add a Third Launch Provider for NSSL Phase 3

    • Who: US Space Force
    • What: The Space Force plans to add a third launch provider for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) phase 3.
    • Why: This will increase the resiliency of the space industry and ensure that the government has three launch providers capable of meeting all NSSL requirements by the end of Phase 3.
  10. Importance of Regulating the Space Economy

    • Who: The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University
    • What: The Center discusses the importance of finding a balance between innovation and precaution when regulating space activity. It also stresses the need for a comprehensive regulatory approach.
    • Why: This analysis is crucial given the commercial activity in the space sector and the policy problems that arise due to a fragmented regulatory environment overseen by multiple agencies. The international nature of space and the growing space economy also raises the stakes, making a practical regulatory system a necessity.

Saturday, 7/22/23: Robert Aillon on Ecuador signing the Artemis Accords.

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