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Placing our order for space knees, please.

Redwire prints the first human knee meniscus on the ISS. The US military tests an unarmed ICBM. The US Space Force has a new mission statement. And more.





Redwire Biofabrication says they've successfully bioprinted the first human knee meniscus on the International Space Station. The US tests an unarmed Minuteman 3 ICBM at Vandenberg Space Force Base. The US Space Force has a new mission statement, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest is Scott McLaughlin, Executive Director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA).  NMSA is the state agency that manages Spaceport America.

You can connect with Scott on LinkedIn and find out more about Spaceport America on their website.

Selected Reading

Redwire BioFabrication Facility Successfully Prints First Human Knee Meniscus on ISS, Paving the Way for Advanced In-Space Bioprinting Capabilities to Benefit Human Health- Press Release 

MMIII GT-247 Launches from Vandenberg- USSF

Space Force announces new mission statement- USSF

SDA Issues Solicitation for Tranche 2 Tracking Layer Space Vehicles- Sam.gov

NOAA to Hold Industry Day for Commercial Data Program- NOAA

Satellite Software Leader Antaris Announces Close Of Preferred Seed Funding- Press Release 

Employees report a rare round of layoffs at Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture- GeekWire

Relativity Space Signs Lease On Historic NASA Test Stand- Press Release

UK joins Horizon Europe under a new bespoke deal- UK Gov

Japan launches rocket carrying lunar lander and X-ray telescope to explore origins of universe- AP

Aditya L1 shares selfie from space, captures stunning image of Earth and Moon- India Today

Europe assembles Hera spacecraft to eye aftermath of DART asteroid crash- Space.com

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>> Maria Varmazis: If you've got knee injuries, or those knees of yours just straight up aren't like what they used to be, I've got two words for you today. Space Knees. Yes, space knees. We'll explain. Today is September 7, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis. And this is T-minus.

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Red Wire Bio-fabrication says that they've successfully bio-printed the first human knee meniscus on the ISS. The US tests an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM at Vandenberg Space Force Base and the US Space Force has a new mission statement. And our guest today is Scott McLaughlin, Executive Director of the New Mexico Space Port Authority, the state agency that manages Space Port America. Their anchor tenants Virgin Galactic, launches again tomorrow. So stay with us for that chat.

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Onto today's intel briefing. And back to Space Knees. One day you, my friend, may be able to have your very own knee from space. Today Red Wire Bio-fabrication says they've successfully bio-printed the first human knee meniscus on the international space station. That pesky meniscus or should I say menisci as we all usually have two of them in each knee. They are C-shaped cartilage, the kind of rubbery shock absorbers in the knee and it is way too darn easy to tear them playing sports, or just wear them down from living life. And if yours is kaput and you need a totally new one, there are synthetic ones or donor ones from cadavers. And now space knees have entered the scene of the bio-printed meniscus aboard the ISS. Red Wire Executive VP, John Vellinger had this to day. "This is a ground-breaking milestone with significant implications for human health. Demonstrating the ability to successfully print complex tissue, such as this meniscus, is a major leap forward towards the development of a repeatable micro-gravity manufacturing process for reliable bioprinting at scale." Don't call your osteopath just yet though, as this one print is still an experiment. And it took 14 days up on the ISS to culture. Still micro-gravity is proving to be a promising spot for the development of regenerative medicine and bioprinting tissues like the meniscus. And Red Wire says their next research payload to the ISS in November, with the CRS29 resupply mission, will have an experiment to bio print cardiac tissue. Very cool. So yeah, that's space knees. And what better way to relieve the aches and pains of living then mutually assured destruction? Yeah, I don't know how to gracefully transition this one. Onto intercontinental ballistic missiles now. Yesterday an unarmed Minuteman 3 ICBM launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 1:26 a.m. Pacific Time. After reaching sub-orbital space, the missile, again unarmed, deployed three undisclosed re-entry vehicles that splashed down in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. It was a test. It was only a test. Last time the Space Force conducted such a test was actually almost a year ago today. And as we said in yesterday's show there are also three mystery launches happening on the other coast, in Florida this week. So Space Force is pretty buy right now we wager. Seems like a good time for them to roll out a new mission statement then. Yeah, and that mission statement short and sweet is this. "To secure our nation's interest in, from and to space." Hopefully that cures up some confusion about what the Space Force does, yes? No? Space Force went through pains to say that this new mission statement was a crowd sourced effort from within the space force and from actively serving guardians themselves. Not the Pentagon or worst of all, corporate marketing. Switching gears slightly now. This Space Force Development Agency has issued a solicitation for a prototyping effort of the proliferated war fighter space architecture tranche two tracking layer, known as the T2 tracking layer. The prototyping effort will accelerate the capability to provide global persistent indications, detection, warning, tracking and identification of conventional and advanced missile threats, including hypersonic missile systems. It will also demonstrate a missile defense capability by incorporation fire control quality sensors in the constellation. The scope includes the procurement and deployment of 54 and possibly more, space vehicles with infrared sensors in six orbital planes. Additional prototyping of satellites and sensor payloads may also occur under the solicitation in order to inform requirements in constellation design. The fully deployed tracking layer is estimated to include more than 100 space vehicles in low earth orbit across multiple planes. Interested companies have until October 5 to get their offers in. Noah's, National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service, known as NESDIS will host a commercial data program industry day on November 16, at the Silver Springs Civic Building in Maryland. Topics will include the purpose, function, status and plans of the commercial data program. Including operational data purchases and data pilot projects with commercial radio occultation data and other potentially valuable observations for Noah. More details can be found in our show notes at space.n2k.com. Space software company Enteris has closed a preferred seed funding round of $3.5 million U.S. dollars. With this new capital, Enteris now has raised nearly $10 million. Significantly exceeding original seed stage investment targets. Enteris was recently awarded a contract to support the US Department of Defense, and is preparing to launch it's second technology demonstration satellite, the Janus-2 in the coming months. There's been an upset at Blue Origin with some employees taking a social media to announce their lay-offs from the company. Although Blue has not officially announced the move, the reduction in work force appears to be focused in the areas of human resources and talent acquisition. Initial postings on social media platforms indicate that the affected employees have been given the opportunity to apply for different roles before the end of their tenure. We'll let you know if we hear anymore. Relativity space has increased its footprint at NASA's Stennis Space Center to nearly 300 acres with a recent lease agreement for a vertical test stand at the A2 complex. This agreement marks the first time a commercial tenant has modernized an under-utilized legacy test stand at the NASA facility. The test stand was constructed in 1966 to test and flight certify the second stage of the Saturn 5. The launch vehicle for the Apollo Program of course. And was later used for engine testing for the space shuttle program. The A2 stand has sat unused for nearly a decade. Relativity says it plans to invest $267 million into Stennis and create hundreds of new jobs in the region over the next four years to support the Terran R Program Development. The UK and European Union haven't been on the best of terms since Brexit, to put it politely. But it seems that the alliance is thawing, at least in terms of space participation. Starting today, September 7, UK scientists will have access to the world's largest research collaboration program Horizon Europe. They had been excluded from participating since leaving the EU. But UK researchers can now apply for grants and bid to take part in projects under the Horizon Program until it ends in 2027. Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, secured a bespoke deal with financial terms for the UK's participation. The deal also extends to participating in Copernicus, the European Earth Observation Program. This will provide the UK's earth observation sector with access to data to help with early flood and fire warnings, among other things. And with the ability to bid for contracts. SLIM and XRISM are space bound. A H2A rocket carrying JAXA payloads, the smart lander for investigating moon or SLIM and the X-ray imaging and spectroscopy mission or XRISM launched from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center yesterday. Thirteen minutes after the launch, XRISM was put into orbit around earth. XRISM will measure the speed and make up of what lies between galaxies. And SLIM will take another three to four months to reach lunar orbit. There's no set date yet on when JAXA plans to attempt a landing. And as you likely heard earlier this week, India successfully launched it's solar observation spacecraft, the Aditya-L1 last week. The vehicle has sent back an image of earth and the moon, as it continues its journey outside the planet to LaGrange Point One. It also shared a selfie. Aditya-L1 is India's first solar observatory mission. We've added a link to those images in our show notes, along with links to further reading on all the stories we've mentioned in today's show. You can find them and more at space.n2k.com and just click on this podcast episode.

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>> Hey T-minus crew. If you're business is looking to grow your voice in the industry, expand the reach of your thought leadership or recruit talent, T-minus can help. We'd love to hear from you. Just send us an email at space@n2k.com or send us a note through our website so we can connect about building a program to meet your goals.

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>> Maria Varmazis: Our guest today is Scott McLaughlin, Executive Director of the New Mexico Space Port Authority. The state agency that manages Space Port America. They've recently released an economic impact report. And I started off by asking Scott about the highlights from this report.

>> Scott McLaughlin: The report is only for 2022, so it was just a one year estimate of economic impact. And a lot of people say that economic impact is always positive, meaning if you do something you always kind of get something out of it. So it's hard to gage. You know, what is - what is the correct amount that you'd expect at this time. But what it shows on the summary is what it shows is we have about 811 jobs, that are from space ports existence. That includes what are called direct, indirect and induced. And I can explain that more if you'd like. And then the total value added is about $60 million and that's the - that's kind of the raw input into the economy. And then there's another number about double that, which is sort of the money that gets re-used. But the $60 million is really kind of the - the big - the big thing that we want to focus on in the jobs.

>> Maria Varmazis: Sure, okay. So you said - I'm going to see if I remember, direct, indirect and then induced if I remember.

>> Scott McLaughlin: Right. Well in economic terms, direct are the jobs that are directly connected with the economic activity, whatever it is. So if you build a McDonald's, the people working for McDonald's are the direct employees. So anyone directly working for them. Induced has to do with the people who show up and work on the ice coolers and the air conditioner and maybe pave the parking lot. And then - and then - I'm sorry that was the indirect. And then the induced are the - for example, now that you have employees in the area that have to do shopping. So you eventually have to hire some extra full time equivalents at the grocery story. Some of these are direct numbers, direct value is measured directly from Virgin Galactic, our primary customer at the Space Port. Not our only customer, but our primary one. And then the other ones are estimated to something called In-plan which is a commonly used model that tries to model economic impact. So a very interesting study. It was done by New Mexico State University, part of their center for border economic development. And so we had some real PhD economists who worked on this. And so we're going to try a new one every year.

>> Maria Varmazis: And I'm curious. In terms of what it means for you at Space Port America. Like when you saw the report, did that crystalize something in your mind? Like oh yeah, that's what - we sort of had a sense of this, but now we know we have a number to attach to it. What was that take-away for you?

>> Scott McLaughlin: Well there were two things. [inaudible] generic term business person, I was doing back envelop calculations on economic impact. So it was actually good to see that my estimates, through my reading on economic impacts were pretty close. And that was the first thing. And the second thing was thank goodness that we have that kind of impact. But this is just for 2022. It's not a cumulative thing. But what it shows is that we're having significant activity, you know in the region. But I look at it as a cautionary tale because the space port was dreamed about in the '90's after [inaudible] exprise and scale composites one it. And then our Governor Richardson you know, may he rest in peace. He just died, but he - he made a deal with Sir Richard Branson in 2004-2005 and then the Space Port you know, began to be built in 2006. You know we had to get an FAA license, we had to get the - New Mexico Space Port Authority had to be created by the legislature. I work for the state of New Mexico. So you know our economic impact is good. I'm very happy with it. But it's a cautionary tale to all of those people, all around the world, who are working on building commercial space ports. This is not easy. You got to have the right set of ingredients and you better have some patience too because it takes a while you know, as we know space is hard. And then I said the other day, space porting is hard. It's hard to do this. And so these are good numbers, but a lot of people would say in the state that while we've waited almost 20 years for those good numbers, so they better be good. In the meantime there's an opportunity cost with that money. That money that the state of New Mexico spent, could have been spent on something else.

>> Maria Varmazis: You mentioned one of your - your customers. So, that's Virgin Galactic. Very famous elite, launching from Space Port America. And now they're picking up the cadence this year. So next years report is going to be really interesting after all this increased cadence from Virgin Galactic. So I'd be very curious to hear about how your customer Virgin Galactic is - they're increasing flight cadence. How that's affecting Space Port America. And maybe how operations might be changing. Walk us through that. Yeah.

>> Scott McLaughlin: We - we expect a lot more impact because of their monthly activities. And of course what they've said in 2025, 2026 they expect to be delivering the delta class version of space ships, which will hopefully increase their cadence to more than once a month. We'll start talking once a week for example. So in two or three years we'll be talking about real impact. Of course we have other customers that come and go at the space port. Some are there for months at a time, some are there for weeks at a time. So we also count that impact and then even the Space Port American Cup, which is once a year, very large event. We count that impact too. But part of you know, we're trying to do at the space port is we got the jobs and we've got the - we now have some direct impact. But we're also focused on this idea of building an aerospace ecosystem in the area, which is something we've started to call space valley. I don't know if you've heard about that.

>> Maria Varmazis: A little bit; yeah. Could you tell us a little bit about that. That's really an interesting idea. Yeah.

>> Scott McLaughlin: You know, this is the interesting part, you know? I'm an engineer, my training is I've sat and I've worked at - at test ranges and space ports. And then I got on the business side. And so that's kind of how I got into this job. And it's taken me a while once I got this job to really see where - where the puzzle pieces are and what fits in and how they fit in. And really what I'm realizing now is again, the people that studied whether a space port could be in New Mexico in the '90's, they weren't just focused on putting in a space port. They were focused on creating a keystone type activity in the state that could build the whole aerospace ecosystem and - and that by the way is part of the cautionary tale. Because if you look at some of the other space ports that are being proposed or even some that are being built right now in the country and around the world, they really don't have the opportunity for complete aerospace ecosystem. They're going to be able to do launch. And they're going to have some businesses that might form around the space port. But what makes New Mexico unique is you know from Los Alamos to El Paso as I've been saying, you know we've got great universities. We've got aerospace activities from the federal government in several different places. The Air Force Research Lab, the DOE Laboratories, Los Alamos, Ensindia, White Sands, [inaudible] and so you add in the space port and what you have now is a place where you can launch vertically, horizontally and eventually come down - back down to earth because we're working on our FA re-entry license right now. So this economic impact is really cool. But I'm really hoping it will be you know, talk to me in five years and - five or 10 years and we'll see something really spectacular I think.

>> Maria Varmazis: That's really exciting. And there's a lot of wisdom in what you've been saying for I'm sure many of our listeners who are actively working right now on getting space port up and running and wherever they're listening from. Any words of wisdom for people who are maybe in the process right now of trying to figure out if a space port can work where they are trying to get it done?

>> Scott McLaughlin: What we're seeing you know is every space port seems to have it's own little fingerprint of what makes it a great place and maybe not such a great place, right? If you're on the coast and you can launch to the east, you have this incredible launch over water, which right now is still important. You know rockets are not considered safe as a - as a jet airliner flying directly overhead, so you need that option, you know? To do a rapid, unscheduled destruction over water as they say. You can't do that if you're going to fly over you know, if you're going to launch from the middle of the United States. So as much as I'd like the Space Port America be a launched orbit, I don't know of any vehicles yet that can do that. One of the things we're focused on or horizontal also because I think the failure modes are better. If you've got wings and you need to - you need to turn around and come back home, you have a few more options than if you've got engines on a vertical rocket. And so - but when you look at every space port, they all have their great attributes, you know? Alaska can launch over water. And go north, south. You've got Wallops they're launching over water. So this early stage of space ports, we're finding that different space ports are going to concentrate on different things. They're going to try and find a way to exist and to pay for themselves. And some states are very supportive. And they put money into the space port, some states are saying well fine, it's okay to exist. But we're not going to put a lot of money into it because they don't see that maybe there's a future. So again, great numbers I think this year but again the cautionary tale is to - is to how commercial space ports are going to grow across the country and the world.

>> Maria Varmazis: Hm, it's going to be interesting. It's a very interesting time right now. I'm really excited and interested in seeing what's happening. And I'm just curious as you look ahead to the future and you saw us on - as you said in five years when we get back to you on what's going on. Like what do you think Space Port America is going to look like five years from now?

>> Scott McLaughlin: Well we're definitely focused on some of the possible launch systems that could launch orbitally from Space Port America. And something like four or five or six private space stations being worked on right now. And of course we're going back to the moon. There's a lot more space tours that could happen in space. People are talking about mining in space. And as I mentioned we're working on re-entry license. So you know, potentially capsule or the CR Space Dream Chaser Vehicle might be able to come back to Space Port America. So if you kind of fast forward a little bit, and you look at what could be happening in space, you're talking about having to bring a lot of people and a lot of cargo up into space, and to bring a lot of stuff home. So there's - there's a lot of pressure on the eastern range. The Cape Canaveral is to do all that work right now. And of course they have one major customer, Space-X and has - who got there first and is doing a great job. And they're able to come and they take off and they're able to land. At some point there's going to be you know, many more launch providers that need to do the same thing. So the Space Port America we think is well positioned that when they design a vehicle that's safe enough, it could launch and land at Space Port America. And something is going to have to give because the amount of cargo that's going to have to go to space over the next 10 years is kind of phenomenal.

>> We'll be right back.

>> Maria Varmazis: Welcome back. Now a little follow up for all of us cheering on the Revenge of the Dinosaurs. Remember NASA's fantastic double asteroid re-direction test or DART mission last year? To jog your memory, if you forgot, that was the successful proof of concept where they slammed a spacecraft into the asteroid Dimorphos to change it's orbit around it's parent asteroid Didymos. And indeed the mission was a success. DART slamming into Dimorphos demonstrably shortened it's orbit around Didymos. Well next year, ESA is launching their own probe equipped with Lidar and optical and thermal cameras, as well as two little cube stats with radar and near infrared capabilities. To take a look at DART's aftermath up close. And that mission is called HERA, currently in the final stages of preparation in Bremen, Germany with an expected launch in October of next year. And if that schedule holds, it will take a look at what we hath wrought on Dimorphos in late 2026. That would be a mere four years after the slamming. And all those sensors aboard HERA and on those two little cube stats, Juventis and Miliani will provide a truly detailed looked at Dimorphos. Not just the surface truth, but also the internals, it's structure and mineral compositions and the like. And it will be the very first time humanity will use a radar probe on an asteroid. That is a pretty neat first. And I know it's a super cool guy thing to put on your sunglasses and walk away from an explosion that you caused, that's happening behind you, but come on isn't it just a little tempting to see exactly how badly we messed up Dimorphos? Darn right it is.

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>> Maria Varmazis: That's it for T-Minus for September 7, 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 readers and operators in the public and private sector. From the Fortun 500 to many of the world's pre-eminent intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This episode was produced by Alice Carruth. Mixing by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester. With original music and sound design by Elliot Peltzman. Our executive producer is Brandon Carp. Our Chief Intelligence Officer is Eric Tillman. And I'm Maria Varmazis, thanks for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.

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