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The implications of a federal shutdown on space.

AIAA implores the US government to avoid a shutdown. Axiom, AWS, JAMSS, SwRI, and SpiderOak partner on in-space data processing capabilities. And more.





The aerospace industry implores the US government to avoid a federal shutdown. Axiom Space collaborates with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation (JAMSS), Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and SpiderOak demonstrate an array of in-space data processing capabilities relevant to emerging mesh network applications. Astroscale’s ADRAS-J mission is ready but is facing launch delays following Rocket Lab’s failure, and more

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is former NASA Astronaut Jan Davis. Jan has released a book in which she draws connections between her father's military service and his combat missions and her own spaceflights. Air Born: Two Generations in Flight is available now in all good bookstores.

You can connect with Jan on LinkedIn and learn more about her book here.

Selected Reading


Axiom Space Collaborates to Advance In-Space Data Processing and Cybersecurity Solutions

Astroscale Hopes ADRAS-J Mission Will Lay the Groundwork for Commercial Debris Removal- Via Satellite

To the Moon: ESA seeks ideas for small lunar missions

India space chief unfazed by Moon mission's apparent end

US quietly acknowledges Iran satellite successfully reached orbit as tensions remain high- AP

Space Force faces disproportionate impact from a shutdown or CR- Breaking Defense

Space Force chief says commercial satellites may need defending | Ars Technica

Blue Origin, Sierra Space weigh future of Orbital Reef space station as partnership turns rocky- CNBC

India's ISRO changes social media and private partnership | Reuters

NASA’s Psyche Mission Targeting Oct. 12 for Launch

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>>M: It looks like the US .is heading towards a federal shutdown. Tensions are mounting. There's lots of closed door discussions going on in DC. And as a space based podcast, we want to know, how is a shutdown going to affect the space industry?

>> Unidentified Person: T-minus.

>> Unidentified Person: Twenty seconds to LOA. Go for deploy.

>> Today is September 29, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis.

>> Alice Carruth: I'm Alice Carruth. And this is T-Minus.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: The aerospace industry implores the US government to avoid a shutdown. Axiom, AWS, JAMSS, Southwest Research Institute, and SpiderOak partner on in-space data processing capabilities.

>> Alice Carruth: And our guest speaking to Maria today is former NASA astronaut Jan Davis. So stay with us for that chat.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: On to today's intelligence briefing. And we mentioned it in the opener, but the US Government is heading towards a shutdown. We record this show early on a Friday afternoon, and we're hoping that by the time it airs, that things may be resolved. But in the unfortunate circumstance that they're not, what does that mean for the space industry? So I put that question to the CEO of AIAA, Dan Dumbacher.

>> Alice Carruth: The question that we're getting from a lot of people that I know I'm certainly curious about Dan is the pending possible government shutdown, if it happens. How will it affect the space industry?

>> Dan Dumbacher: In multiple ways, not just the space industry, but aerospace in general. One, you've got the NASA federal workforce affected. You're going to have the Department of Defense affected. You're going to have people labeled essential workers that are going to be working without being paid, which may cause problems at home. You know, that's a stress element that people don't really need. The reality of it is, and I think there's some numbers out of the Congressional Budget Office and other places that, you know, the last time we did this, we waste $3 billion of taxpayers' money. When we do this, I find this interesting that when we have these discussions like this, but in the name of saving money, but we end up losing money. So how does that work?

>> Maria Varmazis: Yup, I'm very curious also. There's the pending FAA learning period extension. The timelines are not ideal. A lot of people are wondering if that would be potentially affected by the shutdown. Any thoughts on that?

>> Dan Dumbacher: I think if you're referring to the Spark efforts and the regulatory on human spaceflight, the regulation discussions on human spaceflight, it may. I'm not really sure. I can tell you this, I'm on a couple of the working groups for Spark 460, and nobody's talking about stopping the work because of a shutdown. Now, the FAA participants may not be able to engage. However, the rest of us are going to keep working.

>> Maria Varmazis: Just to sum up, for people who are wondering if everything is going to come to a grinding halt, the answer sounds like it's more complicated than that.

>> Dan Dumbacher: Things don't come to a grinding halt. You know, from my old NASA days, when this stuff happens, you spend a lot of time planning for it, which is wasted energy. Then you have to live through it, which is wasted energy. And then, you have to get the ramp back up to where you were, which is not efficient either. If you're not labeled essential workers, things do go on stop. You know, it's a matter how the contracts are funded, all this kind of stuff. It gets very complicated. It makes the high technology missions that are already complex even harder to do. And it's just, in my view, unnecessary, because what we're really doing is putting our national security, our aerospace, defense, research and development at the very time the rest of the world is moving fast. And for some reason, we do this and we end up slowing ourselves down. I don't get it.

>> Alice Carruth: And T-Minus will be joining AIAA at the ASCEND Conference in Las Vegas from October the 23rd to 25th. Let us know if you want to chat with our team while we're in town. And if you haven't heard of ASCEND or want to know more about that event, check out the website ascend.events. The link is in our show notes.

>> Maria Varmazis: The US has less than two days to agree on extending federal funding to avoid a shutdown. At the time of recording this, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is having the chamber vote on a stopgap bill. And we at T-Minus hope that they figure out a solution soon.

>> Alice Carruth: A number of organizations have been teaming up for the last year or so on an ongoing in-space data processing and cybersecurity demonstration, involving an AWS Snowcone edge computer installed on the International Space Station. Amazon Web Services, or AWS, and Axiom Space have been working with partners, such as Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation, the Southwest Research Institute, and SpiderOak for a proof of concept on how data processing in space can be done efficiently and securely, especially when supporting human space flight and research done in low Earth orbit. This is understandably something Axiom Space is especially interested in for their own planned commercial space station, Axiom Station. The demonstration done so far involves successfully transmitting large amounts of data from space to ground to aid in fast processing of data on Earth, remotely updating software, or recovering lost data from space quickly, especially important in case of attack. As well as sending and receiving secure operational traffic between ground and space stations. So far, so good, says Axiom Space, with the latest test completed just last month. These efforts are ongoing, so we're expecting to hear more about this, with additional demonstrations continuing throughout the year and next.

>> Maria Varmazis: Astroscale are on a roll this week after securing funding from the US Space Force. And now, they say their ARAS-J mission is ready, but is facing launch delays following Rocket Lab's failure earlier this month. ADRAS-J, which stands for Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan, was due to launch in early November. The mission was awarded to the company by the Japanese space agency JAXA in 2020. It will be the world's first attempt to safely approach and characterize an existing piece of large debris through rendezvous and proximity operations. We hope that Astroscale and Rocket Lab resolve their issues promptly.

>> Alice Carruth: The European Space Agency has put out a call for contributions to its lunar science and exploration strategy. ESA is looking for proposals for small missions to the moon. And the call is broad in scope. The proposed missions can range from flyby satellites and orbiters to landers and rovers, as long as their focus is on exploration and scientific activities. The call sets the parameters that a total cost of the proposals cannot exceed 50 million euros, and that their development from kickoff to launch should take less than four and a half years. More details can be found in our show notes.

>> Maria Varmazis: It's been a week on Earth since the start of the lunar day. And India's Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission probes have yet to wake up. The lunar surface is a harsh environment. And between the freezing temperatures and dust, the Pragyan Rover and Vikram Lander haven't been able to establish communications with the Indian Space Research Organization. It seems that ISRO's chief is not letting the latest saga deter from the mission's overall success. He told reporters earlier this week that it's OK if they're unable to reestablish comms with the probes as "the rover has done what it was expected to do". We will continue to check in on their progress.

>> Alice Carruth: That concludes our briefing for today. We've included extra stories for further reading in our show notes, including a few on the US Space Force, one on rumors that Blue Origin and Sierra Space may be ending their Orbital Reef space station partnership, and a piece from Reuters on India's use of social media to promote the space program. They're all at space.n2k.com.

>> Maria Varmazis: Hey, T-Minus crew. Tune in tomorrow for T-Minus "Deep Space", our show for extended interviews, special editions, and deep dives with some of the most influential professionals in the space industry. Tomorrow, we have Jan Davis talking about her time as a NASA astronaut, advocating for girls in STEM, and her new book. Check it out while you're mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, folding laundry, driving your kids to the game. You don't want to miss it.

[ Music ]

Our guest this week is former NASA astronaut Jan Davis, who flew on three space flights during the Space Shuttle Program. Jan came on the show to speak with me, not just about her past achievements and her STEM outreach program, but also about her latest project, which is a real labor of love. She has released a new memoir in which she draws connections between her father's combat missions in World War II and her own spaceflights. That book is called "Airborne, Two Generations in Flight". I started off by asking Jan to explain to me what led her to become an astronaut.

>> Jan Davis: Grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. So the space program was all around me. And I actually knew what engineers did for a living, which I think a lot of, you know, junior high, high school students may not even know what engineering is. So I decided to become an engineer. But it was not common at all for women at the time, and I was almost always the only girl in my class. The professors were supportive. My students' colleagues were supportive. And so I didn't have any issues. It was just, you know, a little bit of pressure to do well and know everybody's watching you to make sure you can do it. And the same thing when I started working as an engineer. But to answer your question, you know, from an education standpoint, I think it's because I'm just stubborn and because my parents tell me I could do anything. And so, when people said, "Well, that's a man's field," I'm like, "Well, I'm going to be an engineer." You know, because there are people who try to tell you that you shouldn't do that. And it actually has become a passion of mine to encourage young girls to be whatever they want to be, but especially in the STEM fields, because we're lacking women in those fields. It's still about 20% women. So, you know, I started a nonprofit to provide role models and speaking to young girls about STEM careers.

>> Maria Varmazis: I think that -- it's an incredible organization. And motivating the next generation, especially girls, to see what they can be is so important. So, yeah, can you tell me a little bit about your organization and what you do?

>> Jan Davis: Yes. So myself and two other women astronauts were sitting having dinner one night here in Huntsville, actually, and we were talking about how we wish there was an outlet for us to do outreach for girls. And we decided we would just start one. And so, it just evolved from there. We started with other women astronauts, about 20 of them. That was probably 2018 or so. And then, we wanted to expand beyond aerospace and beyond astronauts and have other women in STEM join us. So we have doctors, and generals, and you know, engineers, scientists. Some very cool sciences are with us. And so, we have close to 100 members now. And what we do is we partner with organizations that have STEM outreach and STEM programming for girls, just for girls. So we partner with those organizations, and we provide speakers for them. So, it could be a virtual, you know, after school program. It could be we travel to a big Girl Scout event, for example. And, you know, we usually provide a talk or help them with workshops, or whatever they want us to do. And we've reached, I think, close to 30,000 girls now. It's between 20 and 30,000 girls because we've reached so many. We can reach a lot virtually, but also in person. And we've gone all over the country. We pay travel expenses to wherever the event is. And we've gone to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and just had some amazing feedback from girls talking about, wow, I didn't know I could do that, or I didn't even think about maybe doing this. And so and so told me about it, and it sounds like it's something I would really like to do. So I think some girls out there resist going into STEM because they don't have a role model, or they don't understand it, or they don't think they can do it, or they -- I'm from a little town, maybe, you know, I can't do that. And so, we're there to encourage them, and hopefully, get some more women in STEM.

>> Maria Varmazis: That -- It's so important. Oh my goodness, it is so important. What an -- And the organization's name is AstraFemina?

>> Jan Davis: AstraFemina, yes. And the website is A-S-T-R-A-F-E-M-I-N-A .org.

>> Maria Varmazis: I'm going to backtrack a little bit because I'm sure the question a lot of the little girls have for you, and bigger girls like myself, many people, many children dream of becoming an astronaut from a young age. Was that a dream of yours? Did it evolve during your career? I'm very curious about your path to becoming an astronaut.

>> Jan Davis: Yes. When I was growing up, I was very interested in the space program and around it in one way or another. But there were no women astronauts. All the astronauts were military test pilots. So, it wasn't even anything I thought I could do when I was even going to college. I became an engineer in college because of, again, the influence from being in Huntsville and being around the engineers there and the space program. And it wasn't until I was out working until they first selected the Space Shuttle astronauts, which included women, because the Space Shuttle astronauts had two types of astronauts. They had the pilots, the pilot astronauts who were still military test pilots, and the mission specialists who were engineers, or doctors, or scientists. And they could be civilians or military. And so, it really opened up the world to people like me. And when that group of six women were first selected in 1978, that really inspired me to think, wow, maybe that is a possibility. And so, the next class was in 1980 with two women. And by that time, I had started working. And so, I set that as a goal since we now had eight women. And by that time, you know, we have Sally Wright had had her first flight. And so, that was a goal of mine. And that's how I thought about becoming an astronaut and worked hard to do the things I thought might help me. But it wasn't something I thought about as a young girl because it just wasn't possible. And that's how I know that having a role model is very inspirational. Having a role model for young girls is very important because they don't see other women doing it, then they're not going to think they can do it, because that's the way I was. I didn't think I could be an astronaut because there weren't any women astronauts. But now, there are. And so, I hope we can provide inspiration for future women astronauts.

>> Maria Varmazis: Absolutely. I know it is happening, and it's wonderful to see. Your book sounds like, and your life story truly sounds like a lot of perseverance and hard work service to your nation.

>> Jan Davis: Well, thank you for that. I wrote the book because my sister from my father's second marriage sent a copy of his POW Wartime Log, which is like a journal to me in April of 2020 during COVID. And I saw it was full of beautiful watercolors and drawings and stories about his life as a POW. And I really felt like that story needed to be told and those -- some of those drawings needed to be published. And I'll publish all of them in a later volume. But doing the research for that book was a phenomenal experience for me since I didn't know him very well and he didn't talk about it. And so, I really enjoy the process of learning about his flying career, his POW career, what all -- not career, but POW time, and the hardships he had. And in fact, you know, flying for the Air Force has a lot of similarities to my flying with NASA and the risk we took both, he, and combat, and me on the Space Shuttle. And so, I tried in the book to sort of compare what each of us went through, and how he was an inspiration, and how, you know, some of his training was similar to my training, and tell both our stories. It was really -- His story kind of interleaved with my story, so it became our story. It really reflected both of our flying careers. And so, it was exciting for me to put it together. I learned a lot. I enjoyed it. I learned about -- a lot about him. I learned a lot about me. But I think it's story that's important for people to understand, you know, what the war was like and what aviation was like back in that war. So, it was really, really interesting and fun really for me to put it together and tell his story.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back. And welcome back. OK, who's psyched for psyche? Hot on the heels of the return of the OSIRIS-REx mission, NASA's Psyche mission will journey to a unique metal rich asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. What makes the asteroid Psyche unique is that it appears to be the exposed nickel iron core of an early planet, one of the building blocks of our solar system. But we're going to have to wait a little longer for launch. Psyche was due to lift off on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy next week. But the launch date has been pushed back. And no, it's not because of the looming shutdown. NASA says the delay will allow the NASA team to complete verifications of the parameters used to control the Psyche spacecraft's nitrogen cold gas thrusters. According to the agency's website, the thrusters are used to point the vehicle in support of science, power, thermal, and other demands, such as spacecraft orientation and momentum management. The parameters were recently adjusted in response to an updated warmer temperature predictions for these thrusters. Operating the thrusters within temperature limits is essential to ensure the long-term health of the units. Psyche's window of launch opportunity has been pushed off until October 12th through to the 25th.

[ Music ]

>> Alice Carruth: That's it for T-Minus for September the 29th, 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 are privileged that n2k and podcasts like T-Minus are part of the daily routine of many of the most influential leaders and operators in the public and private sector, from the Fortune 500 to many of the world's preeminent intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

>> Maria Varmazis: 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 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 next week.

[ Music ]

>> Unidentified Person: T-Minus.

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