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

Houston, it’s a little cozy up here.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 docks with the ISS. Weather delays Japan’s launch of XRISM and SLIM. ISRO shares temperature data from the lunar south pole. And more.





NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 docks with the International Space Station, bringing the total number of crew on the ISS up to 11 for the next few days. Japan delays the launch of the XRISM satellite and SLIM lunar probe to later this week due to high winds. India’s Vikram Lander has sent back scientific data from its ChaSTE payload measuring the temperature at the Moon’s south pole, and more.

Remember to leave us a 5-star rating and review in your favorite podcast app.

Miss an episode? Sign up for our weekly intelligence roundup, Signals and Space. And be sure to follow T-Minus on Twitter and LinkedIn.


T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Tim Gagnon, space artist and mission patch designer for NASA.

You can connect with Tim on LinkedIn and find his work on his website.

Selected Reading

NASA's SpaceX Crew-7 Launches to International Space Station- PR Newswire

Japan suspends H-IIA rocket launch for moonshot because of strong winds- Reuters

First Scientific Data Sent By Chandrayaan-3 From Moon's South Pole- NDTV

Voyager Space Awarded $900 Million Ceiling Contract by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Architecture and Integration Directorate- PR Newswire

24 hours to launch: Space Force, DIU kick off new ‘Tactically Responsive Space’ mission- Breaking Defense

Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS)- DIU Solicitation

Exotrail’s electric propulsion systems to be used in Muon Space’s climate monitoring constellation.- PR

Astranis announces new contract for US government mission, starting with on-orbit demonstration using Arcturus satellite 

SCOUT Space Acquires Free Space to Expand Technical Capabilities & Defense Expertise- SCOUT

Virgin Galactic Announces Flight Window For Third Commercial Spaceflight

Spaceport America Releases Economic Impact Study for 2022

Broken Satellite Risks Big Claim in Shrinking Insurance Market- Bloomberg

Meet Dr Ritu Karidhal Srivastava, the 'Rocket Woman' behind Chandrayaan-3's historic Moon landing- First Post

Save New Horizons, the Pluto flyby and Kuiper Belt exploration mission

T-Minus Crew Survey

We want to hear from you! Please complete our 4 question survey. It’ll help us get better and deliver you the most mission-critical space intel every day.

Want to hear your company in the show?

You too can reach the most influential leaders and operators in the industry. Here’s our media kit. Contact us at space@n2k.com to request more info.

Want to join us for an interview?

Please send your pitch to space-editor@n2k.com and include your name, affiliation, and topic proposal.

T-Minus is a production of N2K Networks, your source for strategic workforce intelligence. © 2023 N2K Networks, Inc.

>> Maria Varmazis: It's a bit of a squash and a squeeze up in low-Earth orbit right now, as -- you might have missed it, but Crew-7 headed up to the International Space Station over the weekend. That means right now there are 11 people on the ISS, with four new crew joining the crew already aboard Expedition 69. Nice. [Music]

Today is August 28, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis, and this is "T-Minus."

[Music] NASA's SpaceX Crew-7 docked with the International Space Station. Japan delays the launch of its XRISM and SLIM lunar probes. And India sends back the first scientific data from its ChaSTE payload. And our guest today is Tim Gagnon, space artist and mission patch designer for NASA. Tim has an amazing story; you don't want to miss it.

[Music] And now on to today's Intelligence Briefing. In the very early morning hours on Saturday, the SpaceX Crew-7 mission launched successfully from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9, and headed to the International Space Station. The Dragon spacecraft atop the Falcon 9, named Endurance, docked with the International Space Station's Harmony module on Sunday, with the Crew-7 crew of four joining the Expedition 69 crew already aboard the ISS, bringing the total number of crew on the ISS up to a cozy 11 for the next few days. In a few more days, at the beginning of September (and yes, it's already almost September), Crew-6 will take a ride home on their own Dragon, the currently docked Endeavor, and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Crew-7 consists of NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov. These four crew are the foundation for the upcoming Expedition 70 mission aboard the ISS in 2024.

And a little bit of trivia for you about the Crew-7's ride to the ISS. The Dragon capsule Endurance, it was thusly named in 2021, not only because of the famous ship used in the Shackleton voyage in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition -- Google that one if you don't know it -- but also because of the tenacity of the SpaceX and NASA teams who built the craft and trained the crew, all during the COVID pandemic.

And it's déjà vu all over again. After two launch postponements, high winds in the upper atmosphere forced another scrub of the much anticipated XRISM and SLIM launch from Japan early Monday morning local time, just a half hour before the scheduled launch. The H-IIA rocket was pushed back to the vehicle assembly building at Tanegashima Space Center, and a new launch date hasn't been yet announced, but JAXA says the new launch window opens this Thursday, August 31, and runs to Sept. 15. The high winds that necessitated the scrub -- some were clocked at over 100 kilometers an hour -- are being fueled by typhoons in the region. Feels like space launch in Japan just cannot catch a break lately. Let's hope they have better luck soon.

India's Vikram lander has sent back scientific data from its ChaSTE (and that's ChaSTE) payload. ChaSTE stands for Chandra's Surface Thermophysical Experiment, and measures the temperature profile of the lunar topsoil around the southern pole. India's Space Research Organization hopes to understand the thermal behavior of the moon's surface. ChaSTE has a temperature probe equipped with a controlled penetration mechanism capable of reaching a depth of 10 centimeters beneath the surface. The probe is fitted with 10 individual temperature sensors. ISRO has shared a graph that illustrates the temperature variations of the lunar surface and near surface at various depths, as recorded during the probe's penetration. This is the first such profile for the lunar south pole. Very cool.

Voyager Space has been awarded a $900 million ceiling, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract, also known as IDIQ, by the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Architecture and Integration directorate for yielding cost-effective war fighting capabilities. The award is through Valley Tech Systems Incorporated, which is part of Voyager Space's Defense Segment. Through the contract, Voyager's Defense Segment will contribute to a wide range of activities, including modeling, simulation and analysis, test engineering, standards in architecture development' software development, and advanced synthetic/virtual simulator environments development for operational test and training. Now we did mention last week, not to get fooled by the big numbers in these contracts, as last year, only 2.3% of the companies under IDIQ contracts received any money amounting to less than 1% of all contracts' value. So congratulations, Voyager, but we'll wait to see how much they actually receive.

The Space Force and the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit known as the DIU is looking to speed up its response to space-based threats. They're looking for commercial solutions to prototype and operationally demonstrate on orbit tactically responsive space known as TacRS. The DIU is looking for a demonstration that includes end-to-end capability to rapidly launch within 24 hours of notice, match orbital plane, conduct rendezvous and proximity operations, and inspect and characterize a simulated threat on an operationally relevant timeline. This prototype will culminate with a TacRS operational demonstration called Victus Haze. The proposal request is being managed by Space Systems Command's Space Safari program office, which was established to directly respond to urgent launch needs of the U.S. Space Command, and other combatant commands. If you're interested, we've included the DIU solicitation in our show notes.

French space mobility company Exotrail has signed a contract with Muon Space to supply electric propulsion systems for the next phase of U.S. based Muon Space's climate monitoring constellation. The five vehicles are part of the next phase of Muon Space's Climate Constellation, which will use a new generation of sensors to monitor Earth's climate and ecosystems.

Astranis has signed a contract with an undisclosed partner of the national security space community, to demonstrate secure and end communications using the Arcturus satellite. As part of the contract, Astranis will use the Arcturus satellite to demonstrate secure uplink and downlink from San Fransisco to Alaska and back. Astranis says this demo shows the growing agility to rapidly address national security needs with Astranis' microGEO, and the company hopes it will lead to the procurement of multiple dedicated satellite assets in the future.

Space technology company Scout has acquired Free Space Incorporated to strengthen Scout's defense and technical capabilities. Scout says it hopes the move will help broaden the inroads the company has built with the U.S. Department of Defense, intelligence community, and civil government. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Virgin Galactic has announced that the flight window for their next commercial space flight will open next Friday, Sept. 8, which supports earlier announcements that the space tourism company will be holding flights on a monthly basis. Meanwhile, their home launch facility, Spaceport America has released an economic impact report for 2022. And the report shows that the New Mexico owned launch facility supports 548 direct jobs, and contributes 138 million U.S. dollars to economic output, $60 million to value-added production, and $46 million in labor income to New Mexico's economy. Those numbers will likely rise in 2023 with Virgin Galactic's increase in activity, along with other Spaceport America tenants and customers.

And you know, we've spoken a lot about how much the space industry has exploded this year. Maybe not the best choice of words, but you know what we mean. And this new stat had us all luving here at "T-Minus." The SpaceX Starlink Group 6-11 launch on Aug. 26 marked the milestone 100th FAA licensed space operation so far in fiscal year 2023, with more to be added before the year ends on Sept. 30. For comparison, there are 74 FAA licensed commercial space operations in all of financial year 2022. So we're all anxious to see if SpaceX makes its milestone of 100 launches in 2023. Just four months to go, guys. [Music] And that concludes today's Intel Briefing. As always, you'll find further reading on all the stories we've mentioned in our show notes.

You know, on Friday's show, we mentioned the Viasat-3 America satellite had encountered a power subsystem anomaly, and it seemed that the knock-on effect is being felt in the insurance industry. We've included a report from Bloomberg in our show notes about how space insurers are preparing for market-rattling claims. And we've also shared a story on the rocket woman behind Chandrayaan-3's historic lunar landing, Dr. Dr Ritu Karidhal Srivastava. They're all at space.n2k.com.

Hey, "T-Minus" crew, did you know that every Monday, we produce a written intelligence roundup? It's called "Signals and Space." So if you happen to miss any "T-Minus" episodes -- no judgment if you do -- this strategic intelligence product will get you up to speed in the fastest way possible. It's all signal, no noise. You can sign up for "Signals and Space" in our show notes or at space.n2k.com.

Our guest today is Tim Gagnon. He's a space artist and a mission patch designer for NASA. I started off by asking Tim how he first got involved in designing patches for spaceflight missions.

>> Tim Gagnon: I kept writing to astronauts throughout the Shuttle program, and they were always- always very kind and gracious. And in spring of 2004, John Phillips, who was the flight engineer for Expedition 11, his mission commander was Sergei Krikalev. And he wrote back saying, "Yeah, sure, we'd like to see what you can do." And they outlined some of their mission objectives. It was originally supposed to be a three-person increment. Sergey Volkov was going to launch on the Shuttle and join them on orbit. And so they were going to have -- Sergei Krikalev and John Phillips were going to launch from Russia, or Baikonur, and Sergey Volkov was going to launch from Florida, and they were going to meet up. So a few of the sketches kind of included that element. And there was one that had some serious consideration, that they wanted me to change the placement of names and so forth. But they came back with another thought, that Sergei Krikalev had been a member of Expedition 1. And that crew had requested the radio callsign alpha for the Space Station, because it was the first international space station. And he wanted to try to hide a stylized Greek letter alpha in the design. So if you follow the launch loom up to the first 1 -- and that's in the Russian flag -- that's an alpha letter. And the other number 1 that forms over a number 11 shows a different launch site, which was the original intent that was the design that was chosen. I finished my work, probably around September of that year, and I sent it off to John. And he sent me an email, probably early December, with the finished artwork. And it had changed, because Sergey Volkov was already not going to fly that increment. He ended up flying a later increment, but the sun on that patch is where his name would've been. And he was the son of Alexander Volkov, another Russian cosmonaut, and so he says the sun on that patch represents him as the son of a cosmonaut.

>> Maria Varmazis: There's a lot. I mean, I've been looking at this design. I would never have caught half of that. And I feel ashamed -- I just got back from Greece, and I didn't even recognize the alpha. As soon as you said, I'm like, "Yes, it is an alpha. How did I not catch that?"

>> Tim Gagnon: Well we had to make it very stylized, because it was somewhat controversial when Expedition 1 asked for the callsign. NASA didn't want to have names on things. You know, they were still leery of that, because both Russia and the United States had flown space stations prior to this. And so the crew was pretty brave to request that callsign. They didn't want an international incident about somebody being offended that, "Well this ain't the first space station," you know. And they got away with it for SDS-1, but you notice, nobody calls the ISS Alpha anymore.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, I was going to say, it's a bit of interesting trivia there. I'm fascinated by the process of making something as information dense as a patch is, and you've done so, so many. So how do you even begin to distill the information that needs to be there, with just aesthetics of making sure that, you know, it looks good? What's your process for that?

>> Tim Gagnon: The process for me is to start out by researching, What is the mission goals for this one? You know, like on a shuttle mission, are they carrying up a specific piece of hardware? What is unique about that expedition that is different from any other expedition prior to it? Every crew still wants something unique, and so the challenge is still there for any artist that gets the opportunity. But I usually study the mission objectives and, How can that best be represented? And I try to put, How would I want to, if I was in orbit, and seeing this mission from a, you know, an outside perspective, what would I want to see that would make that mission understandable? And so I try to place my imagination in orbit, seeing, you know, that mission happening, and then I, you know, I make up a- some sketches. And I still start out with pen and ink. And now I just, you know, scan it and email it to a client. Or I'll do a rough rendering on the computer. And then they come back with, you know, "We like this; we don't like that. Let's change this to that." And s- and it's a process. No patch has one parent. You know, as- as- as much as I appreciate the reputation I've built as somebody easy to work with, and- and very fortunate, numerous times, I'm not the only person involved, you know. There are multiple people. The- you know, the entire crew is involved, and can't forget George Carts [assumed spelling] my brother from another mother, who has joined me on this experience.

>> Maria Varmazis: I'm sure many artists come up to you and ask, "How do I figure out where I fit in? You know, I have a space interest, but I don't know what niche to sort of find myself in." What advice do you give?

>> Tim Gagnon: I'd- I give them the same advice I was given. And at the time I was given it, I didn't appreciate it. Because I started writing to astronauts in 1973. I finally succeeded 31 years later. Now that was really my own fault. I put the obstacles in my own way, because I didn't- I quit college when I fell in love. We've been married for 45 years now, so that worked out really well.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah.

>> Tim Gagnon: But you know, I didn't get an art degree. I didn't- I didn't learn everything I could have about art and the process of it. And that's on me. So I wrote to Robert McCall in 1982.

>> Maria Varmazis: Mmm.

>> Tim Gagnon: Because I was still getting a lot of things like, "We had already chosen an artist to do our patch, and his name is Rober McCall." So I finally went to the guy, and I th- you know, I wanted to say, "How are you getting all these jobs?" And

>> Maria Varmazis: He probably said, "Well I'm Robert McCall."

>> Tim Gagnon: Ex- exactly.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah.

>> Tim Gagnon: He could have.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah.

>> Tim Gagnon: But what he did say, and I've got his letter still on my wall right here.

>> Maria Varmazis: Really?

>> Tim Gagnon: He said, "Dear Timothy: To achieve success, evaluate your ti- talents honestly. Set your goals realistically. Work tirelessly at your art, and love every minute of the work. Study the great art of the past. Come back from inevitable failures with courage, and work relentlessly." And he wished me well, and he drew a very cool sketch on the envelope that he mailed it to me. I mean, so this was 1982. Something like that wouldn't get through the mail today, because somebody would've dethiated it from its destination. So I have- I have an original McCall on my wall. And- and you know, honestly, when I got that letter, I- you know, I had hoped to get, "Here's this guy's name in Houston; he's his number. Tell him I told you to call." None of that, you know. And he knew from his own experience that this was a journey that I had to take. And what I tell people is the same thing. Be relentless. You know, keep sharing- keep working at your art. And I tell- especially if I'm talking to s- the students, artist-if you're- if they're anything like me -- and you know, artists generally are -- they're their own worst critic.

>> Maria Varmazis: Amen to that.

>> Tim Gagnon: Yeah, I mean, you know, all of- you know, this is done- and of course their mom or their wife or their- you know, someone who loves them say, "Oh, that's very nice." And the artist is thinking, "This sucks." [laughter] And so I show them- I show that "this is what I presented in 1973." I'm better at it now, because I worked at it all this time. So keep working at it, and don't let anybody ever tell you no. The world will tell you no all the time. You don't listen to them. You keep at it, because sooner or later, you're going to be in the right place at the right time, with the right resume, and you're going to get that project. And you're going to want to shout it from the rooftops. And if it's a NASA mission, you can't talk about it until NASA unveils it months later. That's the hardest part.

>> Maria Varmazis: [laughter] That is very familiar to me, and I- yes. Not for NASA, but- but yes. For client work, I get it, yeah.

>> Tim Gagnon: I mean, I finished my involvement with Expedition 11 in September of 2004. They didn't unveil it at a press conference until February of 2005.

>> Maria Varmazis: Oh, agonizing.

>> Tim Gagnon: And I couldn't- I couldn't say a word, because if I had, they could've simply said, "Nope, this ain't our patch anymore," and something else would've been created. And somebody- some other artist woulda- have a cool story to tell.

>> Maria Varmazis: What I love about your story, in addition to everything I've fangirled about already, is that you didn't give up. Sorry- sorry for fangirling. I'm just admitting it.

>> Tim Gagnon: No, there were- I mean, there were some pretty frustrating times, when I kept getting the rejection letters. And you know, I get that. And it's, "Why can't they see how enthusiastic and passionate I am?" You know, but the work had to match my enthusiasm and my passion. [Music]

>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back. Welcome back. It's come to our attention that NASA has decided to cut funding for New Horizons, and cease its Kuiper belt exploration, starting in October of next year, and that some in the space community, myself included, are not happy about this. The National Space Society, the Space Frontier Foundation, and the Beyond Earth Institute are supporting a petition to save the mission, and it needs your support by the end of this month. The Kuiper belt is known as the gateway to the galaxy, and Isaac Arthur, Bill Nye, and Alan Stern are amongst a large group of leading scientists that are against NASA's cut to the program, and who believe that there are important scientific investigations that need be completed. And our T-Minus producer Alice Carruth is a huge fan of Pluto, which is still considered a planet in her home state of New Mexico. Didn't even know states could do that, but they can. If t- you, like me, the potential of Kuiper belt exploration is too good to pass up, and if the gorgeous closeup images of Pluto that New Horizon took in 2015 captured your heart -- See what we did there? -- whatever you feel about the efficacy of online petitions, you should sign on to this one. We've included a link to the petition in the show notes, and the petition also includes an excellent explainer by Isaac Arthur on the importance of this region and the benefits of continuing this study. Please sign it, and share it with your community. [Music]

That's it for T-Minus for Aug. 28, 2023. For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes at space.n2k.com. We'd love to know what you think of this podcast. You can email us at space@n2k.com, or submit the survey in the show notes. Your feedback ensures we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in the rapidly changing space industry. We're 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. N2K's strategic workforce intelligence optimizes the value of your biggest investment, your people. We make you smarter about your team, while making your team smarter. Learn more at n2k.com. This episode was produced by Alice Carruth. Mixing by Elliott Peltzman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliott Peltzman. Our executive producer is Brandon Karpf. Our chief intelligence officer is Eric Tillman. And I'm Maria Varmazis. Thanks for listening. We'll see you tomorrow. [music]

>> Unidentified Person: T-Minus.

Similar posts

Stay in the loop on new releases. 

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