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Electron hits major milestones during its 40th launch.

Rocket Lab celebrates its 40th Electron launch. North Korea’s spy satellite fails to reach orbit. Space imagery company HEO raises $8 million. And more.





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Rocket Lab successfully lifts Capella Space satellites to orbit and marks its 40th Electron launch. North Korea’s second attempt to launch a spy satellite ends in failure. Australian startup HEO raises $8 million in Series A funding to develop its space imagery platform, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guests today are Giulia Salmaso and Salvatore Grignano from the Italian Trade Agency on their new accelerator program “Space It Up”. 

You can connect with Guilia, Salvatore and ITA on LinkedIn and learn more about Space It Up at Space.N2k.com/ITA.

Selected Reading

Rocket Lab Launches 40th Electron Mission, Successfully Flies Reused Engine- Business Wire

North Korea's space launch program and long-range missile projects- Reuters

Chandrayaan-3 on Moon: India to shift focus on Chandrayaan-4 with Japan- India Today

Blue Blocks School Celebrates Successful Inauguration of Innovative Space Lab

SES Signs Broadband Deal in the Philippines With We Are IT- Via Satellite

Airtree leads $12m Series A for space imagery enabler HEO Robotics- Business News Australia

Momentus to Provide Hosted Payload Services for FOSSA Systems- Business Wire

SAB Orbital Vehicle Could Work in Concert With Space Rider - European Spaceflight 

Space Foundation Partners With The Netherlands Ministry Of Foreign Affairs To Support And Promote Dutch Space Sector In U.S.

He’s made a huge sacrifice’: US astronauts praise Frank Rubio for staying a year in space 

A Lexicon for Outer Space Security- UNIDIR

European astronomers detect new component of radio halo in a nearby galaxy cluster 

NASA Begins Integrating ‘Nervous System’ for Roman Space Telescope- NASA

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>> Alice Carruth: There's been so much attention on SpaceX over the last few years that it's easy to forget that there are other commercial space operators that are launching at a regular rate. Of course, the biggest of these is Rocket Lab. And they're not just operating out of the US. They're lifting off from opposite sides of the earth, and they're adopting reusable methods as well. Watch out, Elon. And happy 40th launch to the Electron. Today is August the 24, 2023. I'm Alice Carruth, and this is T-Minus.

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Rocket Lab celebrates its 40th electron launch. North Korea's spy satellite fails to reach orbit. Space imagery company HEO raises $8 million in a Series A round. And our guests today are Giulia Salmaso and Salvatore Grignano from the Italian Trade Agency on their new accelerator program, Space It Up. Stay with us for that one.

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On to today's intelligence briefing. It's all cheers and excitement here at T-Minus as we join Rocket Lab in celebrating the 40th launch of their Electron rocket. It's no small feat, I'm sure you'd agree. Rocket Lab successfully hoisted a dedicated Electron rocket for Capella Space from its New Zealand launch site. The launch demonstrated several significant milestones for Rocket Lab's Reusable Program, an ocean splashdown of the Electron rocket's first stage, and a successful flight of a pre-flown 3-D printed Rutherford engine for the first time. You've got to love Rocket Lab's fun mission names because "We Love the Nightlife" had us all discoing to the Alicia Bridges' classic with a similar title. The Electron transported and deployed Capella Space's next generation Acadia satellite for its Synthetic Aperture Radar Constellation to a 640-kilometer circular low-Earth orbit. Congrats, team. Earlier this week, we mentioned that North Korea was planning another satellite launch. And it seems that they met their intended schedule with a liftoff earlier today that once again ended in failure. North Korean state media reported that the rocket booster experienced a problem with its third stage. This is the second attempt by North Korea to place a military spy satellite in orbit this year, violating UN sanctions that are currently in place on the country. State media is also reporting that the Space Agency is planning to try a third attempt in October.

India is riding the wave of yesterday's successful touchdown on the lunar south pole. The mission is expected to last a further 13 Earth days. And once returned to terra firma, the Indian Space Research Organization will turn its attention to its next moon mission. Israel is working in partnership with Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency, also known as JAXA, to launch the Lunar Polar Exploration Mission, known as LUPEX. LUPEX will also be an uncrewed lunar lander and rover mission to the moon's south pole, and is not expected to be launched until 2026. Across India, celebrations have been held to mark the success of Chandrayaan-3. And one caught our eyes leading the charge for the future of space in the country. IIT Hyderabad's team partnered with Blueblocks School to create a state-of-the-art space lab which opened at the same time as Chandrayaan-3's landing. As the world celebrated the Vikram lander success, students at Blueblocks landed their prototype of the Vikram lander and operated their replica rover in the space lab. They even used their rover prototype to cut the ribbon for the opening. Way to inspire the next generation.

Satellite and ground communications company, SES, is partnering with We Are IT to deliver connectivity services via the SES-9 satellite to 43 Filipino Commission Election offices. We Are IT plans to use SES-9 to increase connectivity for government operations and digital services in remote regions of the Philippines.

Australian startup HEO has raised $8 million in a Series A funding round. HEO plans to use the capital to build its space situational awareness services. HEO's original mission was to track asteroids, but the founders of the company realized that there were opportunities in satellite-to-satellite imagery. HEO offers flyby inspections of satellites and debris objects. The Sydney-based company relies on partner companies to host its software platform on their imaging satellites. HEO currently works with US-based Satellogic and Tokyo-based Axelspace. The Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, says the Agency is proud to be collaborating with HEO. Palermo said, "Their revolutionary satellite inspection technology is enhancing our understanding of space debris, satellite movements, and potential threats."

US-based in-space infrastructure services company, Momentus, has signed a contract with Spanish company, FOSSA Systems, to provide hosted payload services starting in 2024. The hosted payloads will complement FOSSA's existing IoT satellite constellation with additional capacity, and serve as a technology demonstrator platform independent of future satellite launches FOSSA has scheduled for 2024 and 2025. This isn't a new partnership between the companies. Momentus provided orbital delivery services to FOSSA in the inaugural mission of Vigoride in 2022, and most recently provided mission management and integration support for the launch of the FOSSASat FEROX satellite in June of this year.

Italian-based SAB Launch Services is exploring ways that its IOSHEX orbital vehicle could partner with the European Space Agency's Space Rider vehicle. ESA's Space Rider is an uncrewed robotic lab that plans to stay in low-Earth orbit for about two months at a time to host experiments in microgravity. At the end of its mission, Space Rider will return to Earth with its payloads, and land on a runway to be unloaded and refurbished for another flight. SAB's IOSHEX is a multipurpose orbital vehicle. And SAB is looking to see if once it completes its primary mission as a rideshare payload adapter, the vehicle could be used to conduct secondary missions. SAB's IOSHEX space rider Interoperability Demonstration Mission concept is currently being pursued as part of ESA's Future Launchers Preparatory Program. This Space Foundation's Commerce Institute has announced that it's partnering with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support and promote the Dutch space sector in the US. We will be learning more about what that partnership looks like in our interview today with the Italian Trade Agency about their Space It Up Accelerator Program, which is also in partnership with the Space Foundation.

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That concludes our intel briefing for today. You can find links to all the stories we've covered in this episode in our show notes at space.n2k.com. We've included a few extra, one on astronaut, Frank Rubio, and another from the UN called "a Lexicon for Outer Space Security." Hey, T-Minus crew. On Thursdays, we sit down with industry experts in a segment called "Industry Voices," all about the groundbreaking new products, services, and businesses emerging around the world. Every guest on "Industry Voices" has paid to be here. We hope you'll find it useful to hear directly from businesses about the challenges they're solving and how they're doing it. Today you'll hear from Giulia and Salvatore from the Italian Trade Agency about their new accelerator program "Space It Up." Visit space.n2k.com/ita to learn more. Our guests today are Giulia Salmaso and Salvatore Grignano from the Italian Trade Agency. I started by asking them to tell us more about the mission at the Italian Trade Agency in the US.

>> Giulia Salmaso: I am Giulia Salmaso. I am marketing and promotion officer at the Italian Trade Agency, Houston Office. The Italian Trade Agency is the promotional agency of the Italian government throughout the world. We've got more than 70 offices. And I'm saying 70, not 17. So basically, all the word is covered by our mission. And we're basically a business development units spread out throughout the world to, you know, let the world know what is the true Made in Italy and why it's relatively easy to promote the food, Italian food, Italian fashion, that kind of made in Italy. You should know that the Made in Italy runs for engineering and innovation and technical sector like aerospace. This is why we actually made a campaign entitled "There is a Lot of Space in Italy," because this is the whole message that we really want to communicate to the US and, in general, throughout the world. So there's a lot of space. So Italy is actually one of the major players globally in the aerospace sector. And, unfortunately, there are still a lot of people that doesn't know, is not aware, of our role, the role of Italy, in the world, in the aerospace sector. So here we are.

>> Salvatore Grignano: I'm Salvatore Grignano, marketing and promotion officer at the Italian Trade Agency, here at the Houston Office. I just want to say that despite the fact that Italy has been in space since the beginning -- we were the third country sending a satellite in space right after the US and the Russian -- we are still surprised to see people that are in this industry -- I'm not talking about people that belong to a different industry -- when we go to a trade show, asking us, "Oh, what Italy is doing? I didn't know Italy was so big in space." And that really surprised us. But it showed us there is opportunities for communicators and agency like ours to spread the word and to convey the message that Italy is not just food, fast car, and fiction, but it's also engineering, propulsion system, and satellites as well.

>> Alice Carruth: Absolutely. Can you tell us about some of the companies you've been working with as the Italian Trade Agency and what it is you've been doing to help promote them in the US?

>> Salvatore Grignano: Our attention as a Trade Agency is always on the startups or the small-medium enterprise. We always try to help the company that they don't have enough resources sometimes in terms of manpower or budget in marketing to market their presence in the US market. This is why some of the effort has been in supporting startups. And for that matter, we are launching, in September, the first Acceleration Program for space startups here in the US. We are going to host these five weeks acceleration program in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency and Space Foundation in Houston. And it's going to be the first of a kind and, hopefully, the first of many years to come, because the main idea is try to build a pipeline of talent from Italy. They come over here, connect with the US market. And in the future, since we are hoping to help them become an international company, help them establish themselves with branch here in the US and tackle the market and be successful.

>> Alice Carruth: So as you guys have mentioned it, you've got this incredible event coming up called "Space It Up." How did this come about? What was the thought process behind this event and this accelerator program?

>> Giulia Salmaso: Well, it actually comes a long way. So we hosted here in Houston the Texas leg of a program called "Global Startup Program," run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that for four years in a row, actually brought to the United States more than 50 startups. And we accelerated, for four years in a row, different kinds of startups of all the possible sector. But being here in Houston, and being the aerospace ecosystem here, one of our specific asset of our office, we decided to, you know, to run an acceleration program vertical on aerospace, all on our own. So this is going to be a pioneering experiment and acceleration program. We're actually -- we're the major player. We are the promoting office. We're the one that created it. It's our baby, and we are very, very proud of that. We got a great partner in this at the Space Foundation and the Italian Space Agency itself. So it's going to be something big. We're excited. As Salvatore, my colleague, mentioned, we are very, very proud of the six startups that we have selected. So we're, you know, creating an interesting program with visit, with, you know, workshop, with pitch nigh, with networking events, and really want to involve everything and try to engage not only the Houston community, but also all the aerospace community throughout the US, because we're digital, aren't we? So we can reach, basically, all the United States.

>> Alice Carruth: What is the involvement of the Space Foundation in this project?

>> Giulia Salmaso: Our relationship with Space Foundation goes back to the 2018, since we started, as Italian Trade Agency, attending the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. And then we developed, actually, a business relationship that, this year, has produced, as a first child, Spazio Web Series. So we're running our own web series regarding all the Italian achievement in the aerospace since the beginning of the space race until now. And then we decided to run this acceleration program. And being a governmental agency, we have to open call for a bid. And Space Foundation was the one who won, actually, with a very, very interesting acceleration program, challenging. And this is it. So we trust them. They trust us. So it always start with persons. Right? And then it developed as a business relation.

>> Alice Carruth: Salvatore, can you tell me a little bit about the companies that you guys have selected for this program?

>> Salvatore Grignano: We have six companies. And they span from company that are focused on propulsion system, like T4i, for example, all the way to companies that are focused on the downstream part of space, like Nabu, which they use satellite information to help farmers farming in around the world. So thanks to their technology, they will be able to be more efficient, you know, save water, be more ecofriendly, and have better crop. And then we have, as you can imagine, satellite companies in Earth observation, Arca Dynamics. So it's going to be a good mix of startups. We try to cover a broad spectrum of technology because we want to be sure we connect, also, with other parts of the United States, not only Houston, because space is spread out all over the United States. In order to do that, I just want to add that we are getting into a platform that is called Village Inside. We're building our village. So we're going to try to build a community. So when the program is going to be over, hopefully, the community will still be there. We can still be able to engage. And we will still be able to keep the attention on these technologies that may, in the future, going to change the way we approach to space.

>> Alice Carruth: What is it, really, that the Trade Agency is trying to get out of this program?

>> Giulia Salmaso: Alice, actually, our six startups have six different level of evolution. Okay? They are at a different stage. So some of them need validation. Some of them are on a different stage. Like, for instance, T4i is so well developed that they have already decided that they're going to open a location in the United States. So they're just, you know, trying to understand the right state, the right proposition. Right? And some of them need, maybe, just to understand how is the US market? So actually, it depends what they want. Usually, it's a 360-degree acceleration program. And it's very customized. This is why it's difficult to tell. But one thing we can say that after those six weeks, they will certainly have the US in their future, at their horizon. So this is what we're trying to introduce to them. And this is what they will get on.

>> Alice Carruth: How do companies find out more about the Space It Up Accelerator Program? And how can they get more involved in helping Italian companies progress here in the US?

>> Giulia Salmaso: Well, very simply, we do have our landing page, where you can find, actually, all the information and, also, the pitch, the elevator pitch of all the six startups. itahouston.com/spaceitup23. It's very easy, actually. Very easy to find more information. And as soon as we got the platform with the digital community with our digital village, I think that all the mentors, the possible mentors, and the wannabe mentors could actually engage in the community and, you know, talk, digitally talk, with the startups by himself.

>> Salvatore Grignano: I would like to add that you can always look for ITA Houston on LinkedIn, on that social media. Reach out to us. And if you're in Houston, come meet us. We try to participate to all the innovation events that are here in town. We try to stay in touch with the community. So look out for me, for Giulia, the ITA. We are looking for people that want to join our community because this is what it's going to be all about, building a community of US space expert and innovation expert, as well as Italian expert in innovation or European, for that matter, or whoever wants to join that party. I mean, we're not going to discriminate anybody. Also, look out for the Italian National Space Day, which is going to be in December. We're going to have a big event in Washington DC. So if you ever want to come and connect with the Italian space industry in general, not just the startups that are going to be with us at Space It Up, or mingle with us in our trade show, we're going to have a dedicated day for the Italian space industry. And it's going to be in December. So December 14 -- mark your calendar. If you're in DC, or you're willing to come to DC, we host a special event dedicated to Italian space.

>> Giulia Salmaso: If I can add something, I just would like to leave you with this message: next time you are attending a space conference, and, by chance, you see the Italian sign somewhere, please don't be surprised anymore because Italy has always been part of the aerospace system.

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>> Alice Carruth: We'll be back. Welcome back. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a space telescope. I've helped curate art shows on images from the Hubble, some of which are printed up to 8 feet in size on my wall. James Webb images regularly reduce me to tears, and I'm super pumped about its successor, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. The telescope is currently under construction, and the team has recently shared some updates and photographs. You can see them in our show notes. The joint NASA-ESA team has started integrating and testing the spacecraft's electrical cabling, or its nervous system, to enable different parts of the observatory to communicate with one another. The nervous system, known as the harness, provides power and helps the central computer monitor the observatory's function with an array of sensors. Some fun facts about the Roman. The harness weighs about 1,000 pounds. It's made up of approximately 32,000 wires and 900 connectors. And if the wires were laid out end to end, they would span 45 miles. Directed upward, they would reach eight times higher than the peak of Mount Everest. Super cool. The current updates bring the mission a step closer to surveying billions of cosmic objects and untangling deep space mysteries. The Roman Telescope will map the universe with colossal amounts of data. And scientists hope it will answer questions about dark matter. It's currently set to be launched by May of 2027.

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That's it for T-Minus for August the 24, 2023. For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes at space.n2k.com. We are privileged that N2K and podcasts like T-Minus are part of the daily routine of many of the most influential leaders and operators in the public and private sector, from the Fortune 500 to many of the world's preeminent intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This episode was mixed by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliot Peltzman. Our Executive Producer is Brandon Carr. Our Chief Intelligence Officer is Eric Tillman. And I'm Alice Carruth. Thanks for listening.

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