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Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 4 | 05.08.23

Last week: JUICE: shake well to fully deploy. First island chain gets a boost from space. IRIS2 blooming in Europe for satellite connectivity. 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, 5/1/23: JUICE: shake well to fully deploy.

  1. Falcon Heavy Launches Viasat-3 Satellite
    • Who: SpaceX
    • What: Launched Viasat-3 satellite along with two other satellites using Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center
    • Why: To deploy the Viasat-3 satellite in geostationary orbit for providing better internet connectivity
  2. Musk's Starship Update
    • Who: Elon Musk, SpaceX
    • What: Shared updates on Starship development and its next flight on a Twitter Spaces conversation
    • Why: To inform about the company's progress and address concerns about the recent Starship launch
  3. Protecting Kennedy Space Center Launchpads from Climate Change
    • Who: NASA
    • What: Implementing measures to protect launchpads from climate change-related damages, such as rising ocean waters and stronger hurricanes
    • Why: To ensure the resilience of critical launch infrastructure
  4. JUICE Antenna Deployment Issue
    • Who: European Space Agency (ESA)
    • What: Plans to shake the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft to dislodge a stuck pin and fully deploy the Radar for Icy Moons Exploration (RIME) antenna
    • Why: To ensure proper functioning of the spacecraft and its mission objectives
  5. Water Potential on Mars
    • Who: China's Zhurong rover
    • What: Found potential fertile areas in the warmer regions of Mars where water could appear during certain times of the year
    • Why: To learn more about Mars' resources and suitability for human exploration
  6. Deimos Formation Theory
    • Who: UAE's HOPE spacecraft
    • What: Captured images that support the theory that Mars' moon Deimos formed at the same time as Mars, rather than being a captured asteroid
    • Why: To further understand the formation and history of Mars' moons
  7. All-Female Simulated Mars Mission
    • Who: An all-female crew from Catalonia, Spain
    • What: Completed a two-week simulated Mars mission at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah
    • Why: To conduct scientific research and inspire young girls and underrepresented groups to pursue STEM careers
  8. Avanti Opens Office in Nigeria
    • Who: Satellite operator Avanti
    • What: Opened a new office in Lagos, Nigeria, and plans to connect 10,000 more sites across Africa over the next five years
    • Why: To focus on expanding operations and providing better connectivity in Africa
  9. Black Sky Aerospace Produces Ammonium Perchlorate
    • Who: Black Sky Aerospace, an Australian rocket manufacturer
    • What: Became the first Australian company to locally produce Ammonium Perchlorate, a key component of most rocket fuels
    • Why: To help Australia become self-sufficient in producing sovereign rockets and missiles
  10. Featured interview: Tom Marotta, CEO of the Spaceport Company, on spaceports and the coming space launch infrastructure bottleneck. You can follow Tom on LinkedIn, Twitter and his website.

Tuesday, 5/2/23: First island chain gets a boost from space.

  1. US-Philippine Joint Statement on Space Cooperation
    • Who: US President Joe Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr
    • What: Strengthening bilateral cooperation on space situational awareness, maritime domain awareness, and other space-based technologies
    • Why: Strengthen the US-Philippine alliance and counter China's influence in the Indo-Pacific region
  2. Chinese Satellite Startup Galaxy Space to Provide Connectivity for Military Drones
    • Who: Chinese satellite internet startup Galaxy Space
    • What: Providing broadband connectivity for military hypersonic drones and aircraft
    • Why: Demonstrating the company's capabilities and potential to support high-speed military assets
  3. Environmental Groups Sue FAA over Starship
    • Who: Environmental groups and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
    • What: Lawsuit alleging that the FAA failed to conduct proper environmental reviews and provide alternative launch sites for SpaceX's Starship
    • Why: Protecting environmentally sensitive areas and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations
  4. US House Armed Services Committee Questions National Security Space Launch Phase 3 Strategy
    • Who: Representative Adam Smith, chair of the US House Armed Services Committee
    • What: Questioning the fairness of funding opportunities for commercial companies in the National Security Space Launch Phase 3 strategy
    • Why: Ensuring fair competition and supporting smaller launch vehicle manufacturers
  5. British Government Launches Commercial Earth Observation Pilot Program
    • Who: The Geospatial Commission, part of the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology
    • What: Launching a commercial Earth Observation pilot program for public sector bodies
    • Why: Driving innovation in government service delivery and enhancing understanding of land use change
  6. Synspective and Thaicom Partner to Deliver Imagery and Data to Thai Government
    • Who: Synspective and Thaicom
    • What: Partnership to supply Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites and data to the Thai government
    • Why: Providing valuable information for disaster response, infrastructure monitoring, and agricultural assessment
  7. Featured interview: Thomas Kacpura, Deputy Project Manager of the Communications Services Project (CSP) at the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC). He joins us to discuss the latest from CSP and their approach to fostering new technology development in the space industry. You can learn more about NASA Glenn Research Center on LinkedIn, Twitter, and on their website.
Wednesday, 5/3/23: IRIS2 blooming in Europe for satellite connectivity.

  1. Teaming up to bid on IRIS2
    • Who: Airbus Defence and Space, Eutelsat, Hispasat, SES, and Thales Alenia Space
    • What: Jointly bidding on the IRIS2 constellation project
    • Why: To boost European government and business access to satellite-based internet broadband and ensure a digital, resilient, and safer Europe
  2. Link 16 to link up to space
    • Who: US Air Force Research Laboratory, Viasat, Blue Canyon, and Redwire
    • What: Launch of XVI satellite for the Link 16 network
    • Why: To enhance situational awareness, joint and coalition forces interoperability, and ensure secure tactical data communications during military operations
  3. Tuberville asks Space Command: Are we there yet?
    • Who: US Senator Tommy Tuberville and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall
    • What: Tuberville expressing frustration over the US Space Command's indecisiveness about their permanent home
    • Why: To urge the Air Force Secretary to finalize the decision and move forward
  4. NASA works with Department of Energy for plutonium-238
    • Who: NASA and Department of Energy
    • What: Ensuring access to sufficient plutonium-238 for future missions
    • Why: To produce electrical power and radioisotope heating units to keep spacecraft warm during missions
  5. China's amended recruitment guidelines
    • Who: China's People’s Liberation Army
    • What: Newly amended conscription laws focusing on high-tech warfare
    • Why: To prepare for potential space and cyber conflicts
  6. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon awarded contracts for ESS
    • Who: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and the U.S. Space Force
    • What: Awarded $30 million contracts to develop ground systems for the Evolved Strategic Satcom (ESS) program
    • Why: To provide satellite communications capability for nuclear command, control, and communications mission across all operational environments
  7. Axient wins Space Force contract
    • Who: Axient and Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC)
    • What: Awarded a $94.5 million, 5-year contract for engineering and technical support
    • Why: To deliver services to the Space Systems Integration Office of SSC under the STS-3 task order
  8. Loft Federal orders Mynaric laser terminals
    • Who: Loft Federal and Mynaric
    • What: Ordered Mynaric's CONDOR Mk3 terminals for the National Defense Space Architecture Experimental Testbed (NExT)
    • Why: To enable fast and simple operations on orbit
  9. 19-year-old launches flat-pack cubesat kit
    • Who: Edward Robinson, founder of Robinson Aerospace
    • What: Released RASCube, a flat-pack cubesat kit for students
    • Why: To inspire and educate students about space and satellite technology
  10. National Indigenous Space Academy in Australia
    • Who: Monash University
    • What: Opened the National Indigenous Space Academy
    • Why: To send First Nations STEM students from Australia to intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the U.S.
  11. Featured interview: T-Minus Producer Alice Carruth on the Spaceport America Cup, the world’s largest intercollegiate rocket engineering competition running June 19-24. You can read up more about the competition and find out about the participants at the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association’s website or at SpaceportAmericaCup.com. You can also connect with our producer Alice on LinkedIn

Thursday, 5/4/23: Skywalking into billion dollar space deals.

  1. Maxar Technologies bought by Advent International
    • Who: Maxar Technologies and Advent International 
    • What: Advent bought Maxar Technologies for $6.4 billion, making it a private company 
    • Why: To enable Maxar to move more quickly in building its next-generation satellite constellation, WorldView Legion 
  2. Arconic plans to go private
    • Who: Arconic and Apollo Global Management
    • What: Apollo Global has reached an agreement to buy Arconic for $5.2 billion, making it private
    • Why: To provide Arconic with the capital needed for upgrades and investments
  3. Voyager Space acquires ZIN Technologies
    • Who: Voyager Space Holdings and ZIN Technologies
    • What: Voyager Space has acquired ZIN Technologies
    • Why: To advance Voyager's plans for Astrolab, their planned commercial space station
  4. Seraphim's 11th accelerator program
    • Who: Seraphim; Astrolight (Lithuania); Kurs Orbital (Italy); Allocation Space (US); EarthEye (Singapore); Amini (U.S.); Orbital Composites (US); SPACEIUM (US); and Virtus Solis (US)
    • What: Selected nine space startups for its latest global accelerator program
    • Why: To help startups raise funds and grow their businesses
  5. CesiumAstro to supply payloads for Raytheon satellites
    • Who: CesiumAstro and Raytheon Technologies
    • What: CesiumAstro will provide Ka-band radio-frequency payloads for seven Raytheon satellites
    • Why: As part of Space Force's SDA- Space Development Agency's Tracking Layer Tranche 1 project
  6. OneWeb signs deal with NOW Corporation
    • Who: OneWeb and NOW Corporation
    • What:Signed a deal to supply broadband to 114 million people in the Philippines 
    • Why: To enhance broadband services for various sectors in the country
  7. SpaceX's Starlink reaches 4,000 satellites milestone
    • Who: SpaceX
    • What: Launched 56 new Starlink satellites, bringing the total to over 4,000
    • Why: To continue expanding the Starlink megaconstellation
  8. Legislation proposed to enhance commercial satellite cybersecurity
    • Who: U.S. Senators Gary Peters and John Cornyn
    • What: Introduced the Satellite Cybersecurity Act
    • Why: To help protect commercial satellite operators from cyber attacks and enhance infrastructure security
  9. ESA funds studies on nuclear propulsion for deep space exploration
    1. Who: European Space Agency (ESA)
    2. What: Funds studies on using nuclear propulsion for deep space exploration, including the RocketRoll study
    3. Why: To advance technology for deep space missions
  10. Industry Voices Interview: Dr. Quenton Bonds about NASA’s SBIR Ignite Catalyst program. Applications are only open until May 15th, so listen in and visit space.n2k.com/nasa to learn more.
Friday, 5/5/23: Running the gamut.

  1. Satellite Ground Station Market Growth
    • Who: Markets & Markets
    • What: A report forecasting the satellite ground station market to be worth $115.4 billion by 2028
    • Why: High demand for 5G backhaul support and satellite-based services, including broadband internet for remote areas, are driving this growth
  2. Department of Defense Requests More Funding
    • Who: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
    • What: Asking for more funding after their 2024 fiscal year budget increased to $30 billion for space
    • Why: To keep up with the real cost of commercial use of their launch ranges and share the cost of investments needed in improving the ranges
  3. U.S. Air Force Wants Priority Access to S-band
    • Who: U.S. Air Force
    • What: Requests priority access to the S-band portion of the electromagnetic spectrum
    • Why: The military may face a cost of $2 billion and compromised operations if the Federal Communications Commission auctions off access to the S-band
  4. BlackSky Asks for Lower Orbits
    • Who: BlackSky
    • What: Appeals to the FCC for special temporary authority to move two of its satellites to lower orbits due to lack of propellant
    • Why: The move is necessary as the satellites' propellant levels are running low, and they need to operate at lower altitudes
  5. Nuview Comes Out of Stealth
    • Who: Nuview
    • What: Earth observation company comes out of stealth mode, announcing $1.2 billion raised in Early Adopter Agreements
    • Why: Nuview plans to build the first commercial LiDAR satellite constellation to collect 3D imaging of Earth and tap into the growing geospatial market
  6. Lockheed Martin Realigns Space Business Operations
    • Who: Lockheed Martin
    • What: Realigns space business operations from five lines of business to three
    • Why: To more effectively support national security needs in space and align all defense-oriented business units under a single mission organization
  7. Orbital Express Launch Begins Construction in Scotland
    • Who: Orbital Express Launch (Orbex)
    • What: Starts construction at the UK mainland's first vertical launch site in Scotland
    • Why: Orbex is developing a small commercial orbital rocket called Prime, which it plans to launch from the Sutherland Spaceport up to 12 times a year
  8. Featured interview: Former NASA Chief Information Officer Renee Wynn on managing risk in space. You can follow Renee on LinkedIn.
Saturday, 5/6/23: T-Minus Deep Space with former NASA CIO, Renee Wynn, on managing risk for space systems.

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