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

Signals and Space | V1 | Issue 5 | 05.15.23

Last week: Hurricane hunters deployed in space. Satcom merger gets the green light. First commercial space station books launch flight. 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, 5/8/23: Hurricane hunters deployed in space.

  1. NASA’s TROPICS cubesats successfully lift off to LEO

    • Who: NASA and Rocket Lab.
    • What: NASA's TROPICS cubesats were launched into low earth orbit (LEO) for monitoring storm activity. The first two of four cubesats were launched from New Zealand on Rocket Lab’s Electron vehicle.
    • Why: The TROPICS cubesats aim to provide more detailed research into storm predictions, a step crucial for mitigating the impact of hurricanes. The next two cubesats need to be launched within 60 days for the mission to be successful.
  2. Artemis 2 to test high-speed video from the moon

    • Who: NASA.
    • What: NASA plans to use lasers to enhance communication between spacecraft starting with the Artemis 2 mission. A new technology called O2O (Orion Artemis 2 Optical Communications System) will be tested onboard the next crewed mission around the moon.
    • Why: The O2O system will enable the transmission of high-resolution images and video from the lunar region, allowing terrestrial viewers to see the moon like never before.
  3. China lands a reusable spaceplane

    • Who: China's space agency.
    • What: China has completed the second mission of its reusable spaceplane, which was in orbit for 276 days before landing. The craft reportedly released an object into orbit mid-flight.
    • Why: Details of the mission are scarce, and it is unclear what the object released in orbit was, leading to speculation and curiosity about the nature and goals of the mission.
  4. Virgin Galactic announces its next space flight

    • Who: Virgin Galactic.
    • What: The space tourism company announced its next mission to space from New Mexico’s Spaceport America, with two pilots and four employees onboard.
    • Why: This mission is intended to “Validate the Astronaut Experience” ahead of their first commercial flight, ‘Galactic 01,’ expected in late June.
  5. Japan plans to expand its GPS system

    • Who: Tokyo’s space policy committee.
    • What: Japan plans to expand its version of the global positioning satellite network by adding seven more satellites to its network.
    • Why: Japan intends to rely less on the American GPS system, but the US military is inviting them to join forces on the GPS network.
  6. Mexico's Space Agency partners with Microsoft

    • Who: Mexico's Space Agency and Microsoft.
    • What: The two entities have formed a new agreement aimed at training staff and advancing programs within the agency.
    • Why: The alliance is expected to strengthen innovation and promote talent, and it's hoped that it will also support startups in Mexico’s growing space sector.
  7. Thales Alenia Space selects ENENSYS’ satellite modulation technology

    • Who: Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between France's Thales Group and Italian defense conglomerate Leonardo.
    • What: Thales Alenia Space has selected ENENSYS’ satellite modulation technology for a new High Ka Capacity Ground System.
    • Why: Thales Alenia Space is developing a ground segment solution in the market, with a total capacity of 500 Gbps in Ka band. ESA and the French Space Agency are financially supporting the program.
  8. Accenture collaborates with Cervest for climate risk assessments

    • Who: Accenture and Cervest.
    • What: The two software companies have announced a new collaborative agreement to expand the company’s capabilities to deliver climate risk assessments.
    • Why: The collaboration aims to put science-driven, predictive insights into the hands of businesses, governments, and financial institutions worldwide.
  9. Featured interview: Dr. Lindsey Polley, Director at VentureScope. She joins us to discuss emerging space technologies and the MACH37 business accelerator program. You can follow Lindsey on LinkedIn and MACH37 on their website.

Tuesday, 5/9/23: Satcom merger gets the green light.

  1. Viasat's Acquisition of Inmarsat Approved

    • Who: Viasat and Inmarsat
    • What: The UK's Competition and Markets Authority approved the proposed acquisition of Inmarsat by Viasat, despite some criticism and investigations from organizations like the European Commission.
    • Why: The merger is seen as a significant step to strengthen competition in a dynamic market and offer better services to customers. However, further regulatory approvals are needed.
  2. ClearSpace Contract with Arianespace

    • Who: Swiss startup ClearSpace and Arianespace
    • What: ClearSpace has contracted with Arianespace to launch its first debris de-orbit mission, aiming to remove the Vega Secondary Payload Adapter (VESPA) from low Earth orbit.
    • Why: This mission is part of the ongoing efforts to clean up space debris and maintain the sustainability of space activities.
  3. NASA's Draft Request for ISS Deorbit Vehicle

    • Who: NASA
    • What: NASA has released a draft request for proposals for a vehicle to deorbit the International Space Station (ISS).
    • Why: The ISS mission is set to conclude in 2030, and a plan is required to safely deorbit the station.
  4. Momentus Achieves First Orbit Raise

    • Who: Momentus
    • What: Momentus has successfully raised the altitude of its Vigoride-5 spacecraft using a Microwave Electrothermal Thruster that uses distilled water as propellant.
    • Why: This achievement is a crucial part of Momentus' transportation service offering that aims to deliver customer satellites to precise and custom orbits.
  5. US Space Force Commercialization Programs and STEP 2.0

    • Who: US Space Force
    • What: The US Space Force is considering proposals for the Space Test Experiments Platform (STEP 2.0) and has announced the creation of its Commercial Space Office. It also announced Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna as its next top enlisted leader.
    • Why: These initiatives aim to integrate commercial capabilities across operations, build spacecraft, integrate payloads with launch vehicles, and provide ground support for in-orbit operations.
  6. JAXA President Advocates for Increased Collaboration with Australia

    • Who: Hiroshi Yamakawa, JAXA President
    • What: Yamakawa expressed interest in increased collaboration between JAXA and Australia, proposing to expand cooperation in space science missions, the International Space Station, and more.
    • Why: The goal is to push human presence beyond the Moon within this decade.
  7. ESA Awards Contract for Lunar Geology Orbiter Mission

    • Who: European Space Agency (ESA) and an international consortium led by Czech company TRL Space
    • What: The ESA has awarded a contract for the Lunar Geology Orbiter (LUGO) mission, which aims to explore the Moon's geology, understand the age of volcanic activity, and detect lunar caves.
    • Why: The mission is an example of international collaboration in space exploration, with the orbiter expected to reach the Moon by 2030.
  8. Featured interview: Jack Madley, cofounder of EVONA, on space industry workforce development and careers. You can follow Jack on LinkedIn.

Wednesday, 5/10/23: First commercial space station books launch flight.

  1. VAST's Commercial Space Station with SpaceX

    • Who: VAST and SpaceX
    • What: VAST has booked the flight of its commercial space station, Haven-1, with SpaceX, marking the first such collaboration. Haven-1 will be launched into low earth orbit (LEO) by SpaceX's Falcon9 in August 2025. VAST also plans to sell seats on its Vast-1 and Vast-2 missions.
    • Why: VAST aims to build a multi-module commercial space station to facilitate scientific and philanthropic projects.
  2. Axiom Space's Ax-2 Mission

    • Who: Axiom Space and Cedar-Sinai team
    • What: Axiom Space announced its upcoming Ax-2 mission, which will carry out stem cell research aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
    • Why: The mission aims to explore the effects of microgravity on induced pluripotent stem cells, potentially unlocking new disease modeling and treatment options.
  3. Starlink's First Rail Customer

    • Who: SpaceX's Starlink and Brightline rail company
    • What: Starlink has signed its first agreement with a rail company, Brightline, to provide free internet service on its fleet.
    • Why: The move is part of Starlink's goal to increase its subscriber base and expand its services to various transport sectors.
  4. Chinese Space Agency's Upgraded Cargo Spacecraft

    • Who: Chinese Space Agency
    • What: The agency launched an upgraded Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft, which can deliver double the amount of fresh fruit compared to its predecessor.
    • Why: The payload capacity upgrade is to provide improved supplies and experimental equipment for the taikonauts aboard the Tiangong space station.
  5. Aalyria-Anduril Software Partnership

    • Who: Aalyria and Anduril Industries
    • What: The companies announced a software partnership to integrate Aalyria's Spacetime platform with Anduril's Lattice operating system.
    • Why: The integration is intended to enhance battlefield capabilities, with demonstrations planned for later this year as part of the Defense Innovation Unit’s Hybrid Space Architecture program.
  6. Pentagon's Funding for Satellite Imagery Services

    • Who: The U.S. Department of Defense
    • What: The Pentagon announced funding for commercial satellite imagery services as part of military aid to Ukraine.
    • Why: The imagery services are expected to increase situational awareness and help the Ukrainian Military target Russian forces.
  7. Canada's WildFireSat Mission

    • Who: Canadian Space Agency, Spire Global, and OroraTech
    • What: The Canadian Space Agency awarded a contract to Spire Global and OroraTech to monitor wildfires from space.
    • Why: The contract is the initial step towards CSA’s planned WildFireSat mission, which aims to monitor all active wildfires in Canada daily.
  8. Yahsat's Profit Surge

    • Who: Yahsat
    • What: Satellite communications company Yahsat reported a 35% increase in net profits for Q1.
    • Why: The company attributes its success to the growth in Managed Solutions, Infrastructure, and Data Solutions sectors.
  9. Orbital Outpost X's Fundraising

    • Who: Orbital Outpost X and Space Infrastructures Ventures
    • What: Orbital Outpost X raised $5 million from Space Infrastructures Ventures.
    • Why: The funding will be used to develop components, systems, and subsystems for commercial space stations.
  10. Warpspace-LatConnect 60 Partnership

    • Who: Warpspace and LatConnect
    • What: Warpspace has signed a partnership with LatConnect 60 Limited to monitor carbon emissions from space.
    • Why: The partnership aims to measure carbon emission concentrations from space, promoting Earth's "visualization". The first satellite launch into LEO is planned for late 2025.
  11. Featured interview: Bailey Reichelt, Partner and Cofounder of Aegis Law. Our discussion covers regulatory barriers to entry and cost of legal services for space startups, and more.You can follow Bailey on LinkedIn and at the Aegis Law website.

Thursday, 5/11/23: Australia’s budget sends space down under.

  1. Australia’s Space Ambitions Hit by Budget Cuts

    • Who: Australia's Department of Industry, Science, and Resources; James Brown, CEO of the Space Industry Association of Australia
    • What: Due to budget constraints, Australia's space ambitions have faced significant cuts, with $77 million stripped from 3 key programs: the Australian Spaceports program, Australian Technology into Orbit program, and a component of the Moon to Mars program.
    • Why: The financial pressure has forced Australia to adjust its space ambitions. The impact on the $1.2 billion National Space Mission for Earth Observation (NSMEO) is yet to be determined.
  2. Debt Ceiling Talks Freeze the NDAA

    • Who: United States Congress; House Armed Services Committee
    • What: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is being delayed due to disagreements over the U.S. debt ceiling.
    • Why: The NDAA, which funds U.S. national security programs, is on hold until the debt ceiling issue is resolved.
  3. Space Force Seeks Industry Feedback on Training

    • Who: U.S. Space Force; Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM)
    • What: STARCOM has identified capability gaps in its current training and testing regime and is seeking industry input for improvement.
    • Why: By involving industry representatives, STARCOM aims to enhance its training capabilities and operational test infrastructure.
  4. A Lifeline for Hubble? Astroscale and Momentus Partnership

    • Who: Astroscale, Momentus, NASA
    • What: Astroscale and Momentus are partnering to respond to NASA's request for a solution to reboost the Hubble Telescope and remove nearby debris.
    • Why: The partnership aims to extend the life of the Hubble Telescope and clear its orbit from potentially harmful debris.
  5. Impulse Reaches Critical Milestone Ahead of LEO Express-1 Mission

    • Who: In-space servicing company Impulse
    • What: Impulse's Saiph thruster is now space qualified and is ready for its first orbital mission launching on SpaceX’s Falcon 9.
    • Why: The mission will demonstrate rapid in-space transportation services through high-thrust chemical propulsion.
  6. Sidus Space and ATLAS Space Operations Partnership

    • Who: Satellite manufacturing company Sidus Space and ATLAS Space Operations
    • What: A contract has been established between Sidus and ATLAS to expand ground station services for the upcoming LizzieSat constellation.
    • Why: This partnership aims to reduce time between data collection and downlink by providing Sidus with access to a larger network of global ground sites.
  7. Hughes Network Systems Experiences Drop in Subscriptions

    • Who: Hughes Network Systems and its parent company EchoStar
    • What: Hughes Network Systems announced a drop in subscriptions and revenues ahead of the launch of their next satellite, Jupiter 3.
    • Why: The new satellite will allow the service provider to support a global 5G network in the S-band, expanding its network coverage beyond North America.
  8. EnduroSat Raises $10 Million in Series A Investment Round

    • Who: European satellite startup EnduroSat
    • What: EnduroSat has raised $10 million in a Series A investment round.
    • Why: The company plans to use the funding to improve its satellite technology and expand its constellation-as-a-service
  9. Featured interview: Steve Noel, VP for Satcom Solutions at Thales Defense & Security. You can follow Steve on LinkedIn and learn more about Thales SATCOM solutions at their website.

Friday, 5/12/23: Bricks and mortar paves space advancement.

  1. Airbus Signs with the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility

    • Who: Airbus Defence and Space UK and the UK's National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF).
    • What: Airbus has signed to be the first customer of the NSTF, where it will be testing its new Skynet 6A, a secure military comms satellite.
    • Why: The NSTF has been built to provide UK-based space companies with a local large-scale testing site, reducing the need to ship spacecraft to the US or Europe.
  2. Space Force’s COMSO

    • Who: Space Force, the U.S. military branch responsible for space operations.
    • What: Space Force is opening a new commercial services procurement office called COMSO in Chantilly, Virginia.
    • Why: COMSO will work with the commercial space industry to procure services for national security purposes. This includes satellite communications, data around space domain awareness, weather, and advanced earth imagery.
  3. AT&T to Lease Spectrum to AST SpaceMobile

    • Who: AT&T and AST SpaceMobile.
    • What: AT&T has applied to lease spectrum to AST SpaceMobile to enable connections between smartphones in the US and its planned satellite constellation.
    • Why: The move needs FCC approval and is designed to provide satellite-to-cell service. AST SpaceMobile aims to launch its own commercial satellites in 2024.
  4. Rocket Lab Reports 35% Revenue Surge

    • Who: Rocket Lab, a launch services and space systems company.
    • What: Rocket Lab has reported a 35% surge in revenue in its Q1 earnings call.
    • Why: The increase in revenue is attributed to its fastest turnaround between launches, as well as an increase in bookings for future Electron launches.
  5. Intuitive Machines' IM-1 Mission Update

    • Who: Intuitive Machines.
    • What: In its first earnings report, Intuitive Machines stated that its IM-1 mission is expected to be at the launch pad in mid-to-late Q3.
    • Why: The mission will attempt to land their Nova-C spacecraft on the lunar surface, potentially making it the first private company to do so.
  6. Telesat's Lightspeed Constellation Update

    • Who: Telesat, a Canadian satellite company.
    • What: Telesat hopes to deploy its Lightspeed constellation in 2026, despite significant delays.
    • Why: The company will deliver a more definitive timeline once all of Lightspeed’s funding is secured.
  7. New Discoveries by NASA's Perseverance Rover

    • Who: NASA's Perseverance rover.
    • What: New images from the rover suggest that there was a stronger, deeper river on Mars than previously thought.
    • Why: This discovery may assist in efforts to seek out signs of ancient microbial life preserved in Martian rock.
  8. Skyroot Recognized as Start-Up of the Year

    • Who: Skyroot, a commercial space company in India.
    • What: Skyroot has been recognized as Start-up of the Year at the CNBC-TV18 India Business Leader Awards.
    • Why: The recognition highlights India's potential to increase its share of the global launch market.
  9. Featured interview: Sita Sonty, Partner, Associate Director and Global Space Lead for Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Sita joins us to discuss edge computing in space. You can read her latest article on the subject published by Via Satellite, “Size of the Prize: How Will Edge Computing in Space Drive Value Creation?” You can follow Sita on LinkedIn.

Saturday, 5/13/23: Sita Sonty on edge computing in space as competitive market strategy.

Similar posts

Stay in the loop on new releases. 

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