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Starfish saves the Otter Pup.

Starfish says the Otter Pup has been stabilized. Weather delays ULA’s launch of the Silentbarker. GITAI raises $15M in a Series B Extension round. And more.





Starfish Space announces the successful stabilization of the Otter Pup. Hurricane Idalia causes delays to ULA’s launch of the NRO Silentbarker satellite. Robotics company GITAI raises an additional $15 million in a Series B Extension round, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Intellectual Property Lawyer Kyriacos Tsircou on space startups navigating IP hurdles.

You can connect with Kyri on LinkedIn and learn more about his work on his website.

Selected Reading

Satellite Internet Market worth $17.1 billion by 2028 - Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets™

ULA delays Atlas V launch to roll the rocket back ahead of Tropical Storm Idalia- Florida Today

US offers rare preview of upcoming spy-satellite launch- Defense One

TEMPO - Nitrogen Dioxide Air Pollution Over North America- NASA

NASA to Demonstrate Laser Communications from Space Station

India to launch solar observatory mission Aditya-L1 this week- TechCrunch

India's Skyroot expects to double rocket launches amid Chandrayaan-3's success- Reuters

South Africa and China Sign Agreements on Space Exploration Activities- Space in Africa

Space Robotics Startup GITAI Raises an Additional US$15 Million in Funding 

Kremlin plays down moon landing failure, says space programme will continue- Yahoo

Space Florida board picks Space Force Col. Long as next CEO- Orlando Sentinel

Announcement of Opportunity ETP - Open Call for Technology - Call Four- UKSA

A Very British Space Launch review – as flimsy as Richard Branson’s rockets- the Guardian

NASA and Forest Service offer seedlings to grow Artemis 'moon trees'- Space.com

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>> Maria Varmazis: A new report from research firm, MarketsandMarkets says that when it comes to the future of the satellite internet market, the line goes up and to the right. Satellites already make up the biggest portion of the overall space market share, and by 2028 as the world continues to expand internet access to the most remote and challenging of locations, this new report says to expect just the internet slice alone of the satellite market to be worth --

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Seventeen point one billion US dollars. The mind boggles.

>> T minus 20 seconds to [inaudible].

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>> Maria Varmazis: Today is August 29, 2023. Happy fourth birthday to SPACECOM. I'm Maria Varmazis, and this is "T-Minus".

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Starfish announces the successful stabilization of the Otter Pup. Weather causes delays to ULA's launch of the [inaudible]. GETI [phonetic] raises an additional $15 million in a series B extension round. And our guest today is intellectual property lawyer, Kyriacos Tsircou, on "Space Startups: Navigating IP Hurdles". Stay with us.

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Let's take a look at our intel briefing for today. We are big fans here at "T-Minus" of the Otter Pup by Starfish Space. And we are so glad today to have some really happy news about it. After experiencing an anomaly shortly after its deployment from Launcher's Orbiter SN3 on June 12th, the fate of the Otter Pup demo vehicle was in serious doubt as it began to spin, and spin, and spin, a smidge under a full revolution per second; 330 degrees per second to be precise, with, quote, "Significant rotation around all three major axes," said Starfish Space. Not only after the Otter Pup's unfortunate anomaly, Starfish Space says they were not going to give up on this mission and would press on and find a way forward. And the company posted an update just today with the incredible news that indeed after some extraordinarily smart and sophisticated moves, the Otter Pup is -- and I quote Starfish Space on this, "Fully stabilized with rates of rotation below one degree per second along all major axes, and normal control operations were established." This story of how exactly Starfish Space saved the Otter Pup is equal parts dramatic and fascinating. The Otter Pup solar panels had successfully deployed after a launch, thankfully, and that was key. A week after the Otter Pup's anomaly, the team at Starfish noticed that the Pup's rotations were slowly slowing down, thanks to the plain old physics of electromagnetic and atmospheric drag, but that alone wouldn't be enough to stop the spinning. So while Starfish tried to figure out a way to do just that, between June 19th and July 8th, just in case the situation wasn't dramatic enough, the Otter Pup started to experience what Starfish called a, quote, "Series of low power events, forcing the vehicle into safe mode," and again quoting Starfish here, "Pushed it to the bring of death." While Starfish Space worked with Astro Digital and ASI, Starfish had Otter Pup execute emergency maneuvers to get it into a better orientation so it could power up again. Phew. And that brings us to July 31st when Starfish activated a control algorithm that they developed for the Otter Pup to slow the spin down. That algorithm, and I quote, "Aimed to utilize Otter Pup's three onboard torque rods to push off against Earth's magnetic field to actively stabilize the satellite." Indeed, upon deployment of that algorithm, the spacecraft spin plummeted to well under half of its previous rotation rate in less than ten hours; from 140 degrees per second to under 50 degrees per second. And by 9:45 a.m. on August 3rd, Otter Pup was officially stable. So what's next for the little spacecraft that could? "Onto its originally planned mission," said Starfish Space. Right now they're working out who their new docking partner will be, so we'll keep our ear out for that, but also maybe news of who is buying the movie rights to this incredible story. But seriously, kudos to the team at Starfish Space for their brilliant feat of real engineering know-how to rescue the Otter Pup. If you haven't heard, there are two hurricanes brewing and stewing near Florida right now. Imminently, there's Hurricane Idalia, which has already impacted Cuba, and is gaining power as it heads north to the state of Florida on Tuesday, and specifically to the Space Coast on Wednesday morning. And there's also Hurricane Franklin, which is further off the Florida coast, and is working its way up and out into the Atlanta and weakening as it goes, but it's still churning up winds and surf. And anyone who loves spaceflight launches is something of an amateur meteorologist nowadays also. So it will come to no surprise to many of you that these twin storms are impacting launches and possibly other things scheduled over the coming week or so. ULA's Atlas V launch of the NROL-107 mission, originally scheduled for today, has been pushed because of Idalia, and the rocket itself has been rolled back to the VIF, or "virtual integration facility", at Cape Canaveral Space Force Space Launch Complex 41. Now, rockets can, of course, sustain some high winds, but hurricane force gales are another story. And ULA says that they checked with their customer -- and that would be Space Systems Command and the National Reconnaissance Office, and they all agreed they would really rather not risk it. There's no updated launch attempt date at this time, but when we know it, we will definitely share it with you. And hopefully when there is a new launch date, the Space Systems Command and National Reconnaissance Offices offer for the public to view the launch still stands. Yes, you and I and anyone in the world was invited to view the launch online, but still, of a spy satellite mission. This mission, Silent Barker, or NROL-107, will be putting multiple object tracking satellites into geostationary orbit. And yes, the Pentagon says, they want everyone to know about it. Well, why; well, quote, "A huge element of deterrence is the ability for the adversary to know what we can and cannot see. So we actually want out competitors to know that we have eyes in geo, and we can see what's happening in geo." And that's a quote from Lieutenant General Michael Guetlein, Space Systems Command lead in a press conference about this mission. NASA has released the first data maps from a new instrument monitoring air pollution from space. The Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring of Pollution Instrument, also known as "TEMPO", collected its first late measurements of nitrogen dioxide air pollution over North America earlier this month. The instrument scanned the continent every hour for six consecutive hours. And as TEMPO isn't a geostationary orbit, the instrument can continuously observe North American pollution during daylight hours. This allows it to capture changes in emissions, chemistry, and transport over the day, enabling better knowledge of pollution sources, and population exposure to poor air quality. And we're of an age at "T-Minus" where the mention of lasers invokes a certain Hollywood character using air quotes. [Music] But this next story is a little more serious than "The Spy that Shagged Me". NASA is sending a technology demonstration known as the "ILLUMA-T" to the ISS to demonstrate laser communications. "ILLUMA-T" stands for "Integrated LCRD Low-Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal". The ILLUMA-T and the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, which launched in December 2021, will complete NASA's first two-way end-to-end laser relay system from the Space Station. The laser communication system will be able to send and receive information at higher data rates, allowing missions to send more images and videos back to Earth in a single transmission. The Indian Space Research Organization, or "ISRO", has been riding the wave of success following its first successful lunar lander mission last week, Chandrayaan-3. Next up is the country's first solar observation mission called Aditya-L1, which ISRO has announced that it plans to launch this Friday. The vehicle will reach its destination, which is a halo orbit around the LaGrange Point 1, in approximately 109 days. The LaGrange Point 1, which is what the L1 and the Aditya name stands for, is a point between the Sun and Earth about 933,000 miles away. Godspeed to Aditya. And Indian private companies are also enjoying a boost to interest, thanks to the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. We've included a story from Reuters in our show notes on sky route expecting to double their SkyRoute expecting to double their rocket launches in the coming years. We're all expecting big things out of India moving forward. And with all the Indian news coming out last week, we managed to overlook some news coming out of China and South Africa from the recent BRICS Summit. According to Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed two agreements with South Africa to partner on space exploration activities. The agreements cover cooperation on human spaceflight activities, and plans for the construction of the worldwide lunar analysis station. Through the partnership with the BRICS nations, China and Russia aimed to enhance their standing in the competition for lunar dominance against the US and its allies. We'll be discussing the prospects of partnering with African nations, and their progress in space exploration, in our chat with Ruvimbo Samanga on Friday's episode this week. Japanese space robotics company, GITAI, has raised an additional $15 million US dollars in a series B extension round. Combined with the $30 million US in funding announced earlier this year, the total amount of the series V extension round is now 45 million US dollars. GITAI says the additional funds raised this round will be primarily used to achieve business expansion in the US, and for developing the company's lunar surface demonstration. A Kremlin spokesperson is downplaying the crash of Russia's Luna 25 last week. In a call with reporters, Dmitry Peskov said, quote, "This is not a reason to despair nor to tear our hair out. This is another reason to analyze the causes of the failure and eliminate them next time." Peskov added that, quote, "The main thing is not to stop. Russia's plans are quite ambitious, and they will be implemented further." That's some fighting talk there. Space Florida's board of directors has selected a Space Force colonel as its next president and CEO. The board has selected Colonel Robert A. Long, who retired in July from the military, leaving his previous role as the commander for Space Launch Delta 30 and the Western Launch and Test Range at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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That concludes our intelligence briefing for today. You can find links for further reading on all the stories we've covered in our show notes. We've also included a review of the documentary covering Britain's first space launch. And it doesn't paint a pretty picture. You can see all of these links and more at space.n2k.com, and just click on this podcast. Hey, "T-Minus" crew, if you're just joining us, be sure to follow "T-Minus Space Daily" in your favorite podcast app. And also, if you could do us a favor, share the intel with your friends and coworkers. So here's a little challenge for you. By Friday, please show three friends or coworkers this podcast. A growing audience is the most important thing for us, and we would love your help as part of the "T-Minus" crew. If you find "T-Minus" useful, please share it so other professionals just like you can find the show. Thank you so much for all of your support. It means a lot to me and to all of us here at "T-Minus".

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Our guest today is intellectual property lawyer Kyriacos Tsircou on "Space Startups: Navigating IP Hurdles". I started off by asking Kyri about his background and what led him to specializing in IP law for space companies.

>> Kyriacos Tsircou: So I went to undergrad at the Air Force Academy. I majored in astronautical engineering. And as anyone who graduates from the Academy, you go serve in the Air Force for a period of time. And my first assignments coming out of the Academy was in working in space operations, working with a Air Force satellite system that was a -- it was an infrared technology that used -- was used in missile warning. So that was my first assignment, and I was stationed out in New Mexico. After that, I worked in engineering R&D for Air Force space systems, in particular, a system called the "Air Force Satellite Control Network". It's a global network of antennas that we use to communicate with satellites. And I was responsible for the R&D portion of kind of the next generation of that technology and integrating next-generation satellites into the network. While I was working that active duty job, I went to law school in the evening. And --

>> Oh, my gosh. [Laughs]

>> Kyriacos Tsircou: So it made for a busy day. And luckily, it worked out where the -- that position was a Monday through Friday regular hours, and then law school was in the evening. When I graduated from law school, I transitioned out of the Air Force and worked at a law firm in downtown Los Angeles. Worked there for a number of years, kind of got the big law experience working for a large law firm. And then after several years, I started my own practice. And all along, I've been focusing on intellectual property with a strong focus on patent work in particular.

>> Maria Varmazis: Your background, I imagine, gives you a fascinating insight into what your clients are dealing with. And I'm curious maybe what misconceptions about IP law within the space sector maybe you encounter frequently and any pitfalls there. So I'll start with maybe misconceptions that you frequently encounter.

>> Kyriacos Tsircou: Oftentimes, working with startups, whether it's -- in particular in the space -- in new space industry of commercial space, or just any startup in particular, one of the challenges they had is how to prioritize the limited resources that they have. And one part of that is at what point do you focus on building your intellectual property portfolio; filing patent applications, trademarks, getting that piece of the company put together. And one of the considerations that I like to point out to my clients is that in particular with regards to patents, once you disclose the technology, you run into a deadline as to when you can pursue those patents. And if you wait too long, then you lose the opportunity to protect them. In the US, you -- there's the one-year grace period. If you're interested in also pursuing foreign patent protection, then it's important to file patent applications on any technology you are interested in prior to publicly disclosing that technology. And another consideration is that if someone has a similar concept and they file before you, then they will have priority to securing patents on that technology; which when you're working with these types of startups that are focused on pretty sophisticated technology, if you lose the opportunity to utilize that technology, you're really putting your business in jeopardy.

>> Maria Varmazis: One thing I wanted to ask you about that is top of mind for a lot of us -- I'm going to totally change topics for a second, is bills that are coming into play right now and the legislation talking about designating spaces at critical infrastructure sector, which sounds great, sounds important. I'm curious from an intellectual property point of view, what does it materially mean; like what might materially change from your point of view if that -- if space is designated as critical infrastructure?

>> Kyriacos Tsircou: I think that's a positive benefit for space industry, and feels like the right direction to go. What I envision is that this will further allow the expansion and development of the space economy. It involves the government even further in supporting space as an important aspect. And for example, when we're talking about debris cleanup and those types of things, government -- if it gets that designation, then government will have an important role and obligation to make sure those types of considerations are mitigated to allow for the utilization of low-width orbit and those types of things. So I think it's a positive benefit. And on the IP -- on how that would relate to the IP is that indirectly it will enable those types of companies that are focused on that -- on those solutions to have the assurance that there will be a market for it, that government could be a customer if you're developing a debris cleanup solution that you might have a customer in Space Force, or you might have a customer in NASA. And so there will be opportunities to develop knowing that there's something down the road.

>> Maria Varmazis: A lot of really interesting changes happening, a lot of new technology coming to the fore. AI is one that comes up a lot. And certainly it's not the only thing. I'm curious what you think about how some of this new tech that we're seeing in new space, maybe how that's going to impact where IP law is going or how it's going to impact IP as it involves new space companies.

>> Kyriacos Tsircou: Sure. I'm with the AI piece in particular, there are some interesting considerations as to what role AI will play in IP ownership, for example. That's a topic that's really getting a lot of attention recently. There was a recent case where someone filed a copyright application on an AI-generated image, that the AI solely generated the image. And the Copyright Office determined that it was not protectable because it was not created by a human. Now, so if AI is solely doing the work, then it's most likely not going to be protectable under IP, whether it's copyright or patent. There is some question as to if a human is utilizing AI as a tool. So if there's an interaction and you're using AI as a tool and you're designating yourself as the inventor or the author, so long as you're having an interaction with the AI tool, then there might be an opportunity for IP protection on those pieces of it. Secondly, of course there are different approaches to how you create an AI tool. And there are a lot of people working hard and thinking about that. So as you're developing new tools, whether -- however that might come to be, those types of things are inventable, things that could be protected under patent law. And again, AI is going to play an important role so in satellite autonomy. So that will -- those will be features that you'll see companies utilizing. It minimizes the communication up and down link as far as commands [inaudible] the satellite will have some more autonomy than in the past. You can -- the set of commands and the amount of back and forth could be reduced. So that -- so you'll see a transition. But yes, I would anticipate seeing that as part of how the technology is integrated into space as well. Well, I guess and one last thing I think that kind of ties into both subjects where we talked a bit about AI and autonomy and as well as space as a critical infrastructure, there's also the issue of space being a disputed zone. So there are bad actors who might impact our assets in space. We can name some of the countries or bad actors that could be -- have that interest. But going back to the idea of space being a critical infrastructure, that's a role in something that if that is assumed, then you will have an obligation as the federal government to mitigate that as well. And so that would be something we see, and then AI can tie into that as well where you're having satellites that have the ability to monitor and adjust based on -- for example, if you were getting -- someone's trying to jam the signal and that -- there might be AI that can address those types of concerns.

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>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back. And welcome back. Now, for those of us who really like to putter in our gardens, we sometimes put ourselves into little teams. Some of us are team succulent and zeriscapes, others love aquaculture. Some are all about a productive kitchen garden, and others love fragrant and showy blooms all year. Well, if you are on team tree and you love all things space, well, does NASA have a great opportunity for you. The US Space Agency and the Forest Service are working together to offer education and community organizations the chance to grow trees. But these are not ordinary trees, as you might suspect. The seeds from these trees have flown around the moon on the Artemis 1 mission. You could even go as far as saying that you'd be growing moon trees. How amazing would that be? More than 1,000 seeds from five different species of tree were flown on the Artemis 1 flight, and the Forest Service has been working to germinate the seeds. And now that they've done the hardest part, they are now looking for permanent homes for these seedlings. And yes, they are not seedlings and not saplings, so don't expect shade cover from a moon tree tomorrow. They're about ten to 48 inches tall, depending on the species. And the moon tree species include Douglas fir, loblolly pine, sweetgum, sycamore, and giant sequoia. If you're intrigued, you can find out more about the project and apply to have a moon tree at your educational community organization through NASA's Artifact Module by October 6th.

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That's it for "T-Minus" for August 29, 2023. For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes at space.n2k.com. 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. This episode was produced by Alice Carruth, mixing by Elliott Peltzman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound designed 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.

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>> T-Minus.

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