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OSIRIS- REx touches down in Utah.

OSIRIS-REx returns asteroid samples. US DoD to transfer SDA to the Department of Commerce. The US Space Force looks to establish comms with China. And more.





NASA’s OSIRIS- REx capsule lands in Utah with samples from asteroid Bennu. US Department of Defense to transfer space situational awareness to the Department of Commerce. The US Space Force says it's looking to establish a direct line of communications with its Chinese counterparts, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Chris Richardson, Co-founder of the community Beyond Earthbound.

You can connect with Chris on LinkedIn and find out more about Beyond Earthbound on their website.

Selected Reading

Pentagon plans to transfer ‘high accuracy’ space tracking data to Commerce- Breaking Defense

US exploring potential space force hotline with China- Reuters

Japan startup to develop refueling satellite for U.S. Space Force- The Japan Times

Chandrayaan-3: Hopes of Moon lander reawakening dim as India awaits signal- BBC

Turning up gravity for space fungi study- ESA

​​Paratus sign re-seller agreement with Starlink for Africa- PR

Committee on NASA Mission Critical Workforce, Infrastructure, and Technology - Meeting No. 11 | National Academies 


Building in zero gravity: the race to create factories in space- The Guardian

Surprise Space Force Launch Punches Hole In Atmosphere- The Weather Channel

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>> Maria Varmazis: It is a touchdown in Utah. Sunday in Utah, saw the triumphant return of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft with samples from the asteroid known as Bennu. It's all the industry has been talking about for weeks. And we cannot wait to see what those samples have to offer. And it just goes to show you, you can land something from space in the Utah deserts. Does anyone else feel bad for Varda Space right now?

>> Unidentified Person: We kind of feel bad for Varda Space.

>> Maria Varmazis: Today is September 25th, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis. And this is T-Minus.

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OSIRIS-REx returns samples from the asteroid venue. USDoD to transfer space situational awareness to the Department of Commerce. The US Space Force looks to establish a direct line with its Chinese counterparts. And our guest today is Chris Richardson, co-founder of the Community Beyond Earthbound. Stay with us.

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And now, let's take a look at today's intel briefing. Sunday was sample landing day for our friends at NASA. And the 100-pound capsule from OSIRIS-REx successfully touched down in the deserts of Utah with a sample retrieved from the asteroid Bennu. It was then spirited away to a clean room nearby. And today, Monday, the capsule and all of its components are being transported by plane to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston where it'll all be studied. This is only the third time in history that humanity has successfully returned a sample from an asteroid. The first two successful asteroid sample retrieval missions were done by Pop quiz JAXA with the Hayabusa and Hayabusa 2 missions. And this is indeed the first asteroid sample return mission for NASA. So yes, still a noteworthy first. So what's the big deal about Bennu and why do we want to study it? Well, any sample from an asteroid helps us better understand asteroids in general and how they might impact us here on Earth, literally. But scientists also believe that because Bennu is a relatively unscathed and primitive asteroid, it can serve as a time capsule of the beginning of our solar system and help us better understand how our solar system was made and even possibly how life began. And the mission path is pretty cool when you think about it. OSIRIS-REx launched via an Atlas V in 2016 from Cape Canaveral in Florida, arrived at the asteroid venue in 2018 and took two years to find a good sample retrieval site. In October, 2020 -- you might be forgiven for having been a bit preoccupied at that time if you missed the news. But while we were all hunkered down, that's when the Bennu sample collection occurred. The capsule with the sample started its journey back to Earth in May, 2021. And well, that brings us to yesterday's soft landing on terra firma in Utah. And now, it's on its way to Texas. And I have to admit that is the longest way to go from Florida to Texas that I can possibly imagine. The US Department of Defense has plans to transfer its space awareness program to the Department of Commerce in 2024. The Department of Commerce or DoC is working to establish a space traffic advisory service called the Traffic Coordination System for Space or TraCSS. The DoC's office of Space Commerce will manage the service initially relying on space object-tracking data from the Space Forces' Space Surveillance Network of ground and space-based radar and telescopes. The two departments have signed a memorandum of understanding to coordinate efforts to include how they will share data for TraCSS. Richard DalBello, the head of the office of Space Commerce, told Breaking defense that his office will be spending almost $59 million in commercial acquisition in fiscal 2024. Of that, about 17 million will go into commercial infrastructure set up and over 36 million will go to commercial space situational awareness data, services and Pathfinders to integrate new services as TraCSS matures. US Commander General Chance Saltzman told Reuters that the Space Force has had internal discussions about setting up a hotline with China to prevent crises in space. The chief of Space Operations said a direct line of communication between the Space Force and its Chinese counterpart would be valuable in deescalating tensions. The comments on China from Saltzman come as the Space Force continues exploring potential establishment of a local headquarters in neighboring Japan. And to further cement the US-Japan relationship, the US Space Force last week announced that it had selected Tokyo-based startup Astroscale to develop a satellite capable of providing in-space refueling services to other satellites. The Japanese on Orbit Services company will receive $25.5 million for the contract to provide refueling, to extend the life of satellites and the removal of space debris. And I don't know about you, but I spent all weekend keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that there would be news from the Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover on the lunar South Pole. But thus far, the Indian Space Research Organization has not been able to make contact with them. Israel says that it will continue to work on establishing communications with its lander and rover for the full lunar day, and that's around 14 Earth days, but the team has said that the chances of the probe waking up after the long lunar night are not looking good. Temperatures near the Moon South Pole are known to plunge to as low as negative 250 degrees Celsius. And for us in freedom units that's negative 418 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Those are harsh conditions for the vehicles to contend with, but I'm keeping those fingers crossed. A team from the Macau University of Science and Technology has been using the European Space Agency's large diameter centrifuge in the Netherlands to test the growth of fungal colonies under double normal Earth's gravity. Access to the centrifuge for the university from the Chinese region was arranged through the United Nations office of Outer Space Affairs Hypergravity Experiment Series program. Andre Antunes, part of the research team of Macau University of Science and Technology said of the experiments that, "We are never going to be able to get rid of fungi entirely as we venture into space. So we need to understand them." The team believes that fungi will be essential in helping to reduce costs and ensure sustainability of crude space exploration. Paratus Group has entered an agreement as a distributor for Starlink's high speed satellite communication services across the African continent. Through this agreement, Paratus will provide Starlink to its customers across Africa as operating licenses are awarded to Starlink in those countries. Starlink will be available from Paratus in Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda and Nigeria before being rolled out to more countries across the continent. Starlink has recently announced that it is available on all seven continents in over 60 countries and has over two million active customers. SpaceX launched a further 21 satellites to low Earth orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket from California this morning. NASA's open committee on workforce infrastructure and technology is kicking off session number 11 this week. Highlights include working groups on mid-career development, early career opportunities and executive leadership insights. And there's a link in our show notes if you'd like to follow along. And for all you budding rocket scientists listening, the 2024 Spaceport America Cup HeroX registration site is now live. Team application registration opens on October 1st for the 2024 competition. All details on how you can register a team for June, 2024 can be found in the link in our show notes.

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And that concludes our daily intelligence briefing for today. You'll find links to further reading on all the stories that we've mentioned in our show notes and at space.n2k.com. You know, we've included a piece from the Guardian on the race to create factories in space and an explainer from the weather channel on rockets creating holes in the ionosphere as a result of a chemical reaction between burning fuel and various gases found in the atmosphere. Again, they're all at space.n2k.com.

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A T-Minus crew, every Monday, we produce a written intelligence roundup and it's called Signals and Space. So if you happen to miss any T-Minus episodes, 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.

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Our guest today is Chris Richardson, co-founder of the Community Beyond Earthbound. And I started off by asking Chris to first explain what Beyond Earthbound is.

>> Chris Richardson: Beyond Earthbound is a community of artists and humanitarians that are interested also in space. And we are looking to collectively come together to promote a space in the units of space and what that would look like for the arts and humans as we contain [inaudible]. And right now, this primarily shows itself as we are building a community on Discord as we come together as a community, we're going to start prioritizing where we go from there and how we best utilize the resources that we have. We also are trying to host monthly events right now.

>> Maria Varmazis: Thank you so much for giving us the introduction to Beyond Earthbound. I just joined the Discord myself. And I was really impressed at how international it is because it's so important that when people say space is for everyone, we don't just mean in one location, and we certainly mean across disciplines and across the world truly.

>> Chris Richardson: Absolutely. And we are really focusing on being as international as possible. That's been one of the things we've been doing since the get-go. And while we don't get great analytics on that from Discord itself, we're definitely promoting this internationally for the most part. And as of right now, I think adding the only American on the staff -- our team -- everyone else is from Europe or India for the most part, or Oregon, middle East.

>> Maria Varmazis: That's really great. I was telling you before we started recording, this is something I'm very personally invested in as an artist who's interested in space. So this is -- I I'm really jazzed that this exists, especially because I think for many people who have an artistic inclination, there can often be a sense of like, I don't know where to direct my energy. I don't know what to do with this. And I often will hear people say things like, oh, the space industry needs you, but then you're like, well, how? What do I do with this? Where do I go?

>> Chris Richardson: Absolutely. And that's one of those things that as we've been looking at, we've been realizing throughout the past couple of years, there's been a lot of projects that have come and bond based on the space arts and humanity side, but there hasn't been a lot running in the background to kind of keep everything together and provides some cohesiveness. So by providing the space and providing this community, we're hoping to provide a little more stability for projects to come and go and for people to come and collaborate with one another because it's also incredibly hard to find everything that's happened. Every time I turn my head, I've seen another arts project, another humanities focused project into the space industry that I almost knew nothing about except by random happen chance. So we're trying to build some of that infrastructure out too.

>> Maria Varmazis: So I'm curious what the genesis was for this project because it's definitely a pain point for a lot of people. And I'm curious, like was there a specific event or a discussion that gave birth to it?

>> Chris Richardson: There was a couple of us that affiliated or were affiliated with SGAC that started coming together asking the question of what would this look like if we had this sort of support. And as we came together as we developed that, we decided that we would want it to be a little bit broader than what SGAC's mandate is, but we wanted to try to provide that support network there for these different initiatives and for these different projects. An SGAC being Space Generation Advisory Council.

>> Maria Varmazis: What's your vision for the long term for Beyond Earthbound? Like what would you love to see happen?

>> Chris Richardson: So personally -- all of the co-founders have a slightly different vision. And I can speak towards some of the things I'm really interested in. So I did my undergrad at Virginia Commonwealth University. And I also worked in the film industry before I went to undergrad and entered the space industry. To me, something I've always been very passionate about is supporting artists and making sure they have the tools and the resources to bring their visions to life. So everything I'm doing and the way I'm approaching a lot of this is how can I best support the artistes and also people in the humanities because most of my own research is humanities focus to see their visions stand. And does that mean using a stability of a name to help get access to certain technologies of certain companies for their projects? Does that mean trying and going to get monetary resources where possible for them or providing a platform to boost their own work? Those are some of the things we're considering right now.

>> Maria Varmazis: And it's fascinating because I'm looking at some of the different things that people have posted in the Discord. And some people are -- they may have a humanities degree. Some people have science degrees and they're like a scientist and artist, both, or they're people who are actually, they're doing very highly technical work, but trying to bring in a sort of an artistic inclination or they're trying to do something like a more creative field of work within the science industry that maybe for a role that -- or a field that is sort of nascent, but starting to grow.

>> Chris Richardson: Absolutely. And I know personally through my own experience in the space industry so far, there's been a lot of STEM people I've come across that are incredibly creative, and have their own personal outlets for some of their creativity that are also seemingly looking for places to go with that, and maybe collaborate with others, because while they might not have time in their day-to-day lives with everything they're doing, or either in engineering or the sciences. Some people seem to be looking for these projects to kind of collaborate on and push forward in their own creative spaces too.

>> Maria Varmazis: Excellent. Yeah, so I guess that's a great question then. So who are you looking forward to join this community?

>> Chris Richardson: Anyone that is interested in being a practitioner of the arts and humanities and space. And a lot of our work and a lot of what the community's going to support, we're going to push to social media and that's a great place to follow if one is interested. And we're really encouraging people to join the Discord if they want to come participate and build with us. We've divided how we interact. We share the world there a little bit. We're really encouraging people that want to participate in arts and humanities projects so that have a space lens or focus to come ahead and join us on the Discord where we can coordinate and just talk with one another. Be there.

>> Maria Varmazis: Excellent. And I'm going to flip the question also for organizations that maybe are looking to branch out, bring in more arts and humanities minded folks or do something that's maybe outside of like their technical comfort zone. How can they improve their outreach?

>> Richardson: So if there's an organization that's interested in partnering with us or partnering with the community, we would happily ask them to approach us. Right now, we pretty much taking messages through LinkedIn is the best place for that. And we would just post it into the Discord as an opportunity, like many of the other things that we get and see if anyone's interested because we do have deep experts and practitioners in these different fields that might have some interest in something if they're trying -- if they're looking for someone for those types of positions or those types of short term projects. I know perfectly long term -- one of the things I'd be really interested in is promoting more artist fellowships with some companies and the space sector, but that's going to take some education and some convincing on the value add of that to many of the companies within the space sector, which is more of a long term goal. Because right now, we're just really building the community.

>> Maria Varmazis: What is the value of bringing an artist onboard for like an artist-in-residence or doing some -- bringing an artist in for some sort of project? What would -- if I'm an organization that goes, what's the point of that? What would you tell them?

>> Chris Richardson: So from an organizational standpoint, there's some really interesting work that's been done here over the years on the creative economy, sometimes referred to as the orange economy, depending on where you are in the world, which has shown really well what happens when you bring anti-native mindsets that are going to disciplinary mindsets to tackle certain problem sets. And it's one of those things that can definitely help provide new lenses to solving problems that might've been seen as an entrenched issue where maybe it's just been the mindset and the lenses that they had available. They didn't see another way out of it, someone else can bring in externally. And then one of the other things is also it's important that deeper we go into space, the fact that we go into air and our planetary system, we're going to want to take parts of us that make us humanity -- make us human out there with us. And one of those things from the earliest of ages has been how we communicate and a lot of the ways we communicate is through arts and through some of our understanding of ourselves, both in the past and into the future.

>> Maria Varmazis: I was going to ask what kind of projects have people worked on if they've been brought in that kind of a role? Because I saw that Planet had, I don't know if it's still open or not, but they had some sort of artist-in-residence opportunity. I'm curious if we know what kind of work that they're doing.

>> Chris Richardson: There are some companies within the space industry that have had artist-in-residence programs and Planet is one of those that has had a longstanding program. I'm not sure what the status of it is but used to put artwork on the backside. And if I remember correctly, the solar panels, they were on the Planet Lab satellites that were going into space. And my assumption is that that is still ongoing. Another company that's had a really interesting longstanding artist-in-residence program that's not necessarily in the space industry is Ginkgo Bioworks either in the synthetic biology and biotechnology industry. Another very scientifically heavy company and that really has put themselves forward by funding an artist, funding a project that would provide access to the resources is Kinko to create projects. And one of those projects back in the day was looking into encoding stories into DNA, which was really perfect. So there's opportunities there to push that forward within companies, but a lot of companies are going to -- it's going to require explaining to them what the value is.

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>> Maria Varmazis: We will be right back. And welcome back. And I'm going out on a limb here, but I can just guess that we all have our favorite comfort food, right? Or foods in my case as I have too many favorites to possibly choose just one. But what would you do if you spent months away from it, say in Orbit and you're only experiencing rehydrated astronaut food? No, it does not sound too appealing. Not if you're a foodie like we are here at T-Minus. And if you've ever tried astronaut ice cream, then you know what we're talking about. And as we've heard from several past guests on our show, space agencies are working hard to resolve this issue of space food palatability and are looking to bring more home comforts to the International Space Station. And they've started with a crowd-pleaser, fluffy chocolate mousse is now on the menu in Orbit. Thanks to the European Space Agency and astronaut Andreas Mogensen. He has been excitedly posting on the social media platform X about a special device that he's been testing aboard the ISS. Andreas posted this, "I made chocolate mousse for my crew mates. It turned out delicious and was a huge hit. The chocolate mousse was a test of an ESA and French Space Agency or CNES experiment called Food Processor to see what is feasible to cook in space since food is vital for both our health and morale. At the moment, all our food is prepared on the ground and prepackaged. All we have to do is rehydrate the food or heat it. Cooking food in space could be a big benefit for future crews." I should also point out that Andreas also added this in his post. "Now, I just have to come up with an excuse of why I can cook for my crew mates in space, but not for my wife at home." I just got to say good luck with that, Andreas.

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That's it for T-Minus for September 25th, 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 that 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 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 @n2k.com. This episode was produced by Alice Carus, mixing by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester with original music and sound design by Elliot 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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