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First fine dished out for space debris management.

Dish fined by the FCC for bad space debris management. Commercial space stations appear to be in trouble. AFRL announces three JETSON contracts. And more.





Dish Network fined $150,000 by the Federal Communications Commission for bad space debris management. Commercial space stations appear to be in trouble. The US Air Force Research Laboratory selects Lockheed Martin, Intuitive Machines and Westinghouse Government Services for the Joint Emergent Technology Supplying On-orbit Nuclear Power effort known as JETSON, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Dan Dumbacher, Executive Director of AIAA, on ASCEND.

You can connect with Dan on LinkedIn and find out more on ASCEND by visiting the event website.

Selected Reading

FCC enforces first space debris penalty in Dish Network settlement

NASA Seeks Feedback on Requirements for New Commercial Space Stations

Northrop Grumman likely to end its bid for a commercial space station | Ars Technica

Exclusive: Bezos' Blue Origin expects split on space station partnership -sources | Reuters

Mines researchers get $2M from NASA to advance technology for extracting aluminum from lunar soil- PR

AFRL picks 3 contractors for JETSON effort to develop fission powered spacecraft - Breaking Defense

Vega preparing to fly on October 6th- Avio PR

Astroport Space Technologies forms European subsidiary in Luxembourg- Aviation Analysis

China opens up global collaboration opportunities in Chang'e-8 lunar exploration mission- CGTN

DLA Energy Supports Space Missions From Coast to Coast- US Gov

Building more cyber-resilient satellites begins with a strong network- Apple News

A Day Without Space: GPS Is Ground Zero For The New Space Race- Forbes

Japan's SLIM 'moon sniper' spacecraft leaves Earth orbit- Space.com

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>> Maria Varmazis: Ah, the ageless push and pull of regulation. Some say no regulation is best; let the free market decide. Some say regulation is necessary; a critical way to solve inevitable market failure. We can all agree on one thing, though, regulation when properly applied, can protect the public good. And that's exactly what the FCC is trying to do with space debris. Hmm, but have they gone far enough? No.

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Today is October 3, 2023. I am Maria Varmazis, and this is T-Minus.

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Dish gets fined for bad space debris management. Commercial space stations appear to be in trouble. AFRL announces three JETSON contracts. And our guest today is Dan Dumbacher, executive director of AIAA. He's speaking with us on the ASCEND event coming up October 23rd through 25th in Las Vegas. Stay with us for more details.

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On to today's intelligence briefing now. And in pivotal action, the Federal Communications Commission, or the FCC, for those keeping track, fined Dish Network 150,000 US dollars for bad space debris management. And this marks the FCC's first crackdown on space debris. It ends up that Dish failed to dispose of its EchoStar-7 satellite. While it should have been relocated to a graveyard orbit, the satellite had insufficient fuel to reach the assigned orbit for its end of life. This case underscores the growing concern around space debris and the Kessler syndrome. And the Kessler syndrome, if you don't know, is the theoretical scenario where Earth orbit is overpopulated with debris, creating runaway collisions and preventing the use of satellites in certain sections of Earth's orbit. I will note that some pretty well known personalities, including NASA scientist Donald Kessler himself, claim that we're already pretty far down that path. Now, this penalty shines light on the nascent regulations around mitigating space debris. The penalty, although a first, is still admittedly pretty meager. It looks a lot like the early days of privacy fines by the US Federal Trade Commission, and Department of Justice, against internet companies. For example, recently the FTC levied a five billion dollar penalty against Facebook for privacy violations. That stands as to hurt contrast to the FCC's penalty against Dish Network. But it should be said that it took decades for the FTC to finally get to those sorts of meaningful numbers. Until recently, these companies considered fines to be a cost of doing business. Sure, they didn't want to pay a few million dollars a year in fines, but when you make that sort of money in mere minutes, the fines lose any deterrent effect. Corporate responsibility can't be assumed, it needs to be mandatory and enforced. So to have the intended effect the fine has to be more expensive than the solution to the problem. It has to hit the company's balance sheet in a way that makes them more seriously consider axing the CEO. A hundred and fifty thousand US dollars isn't anywhere near close to enough money to solve the debris problem. Dish makes an operating profit of nearly five billion, yes with a "B", US dollars a year, and gross revenues of 17 billion a year. Regulatory bodies like the FCC play a critical role in safeguarding consumer interest across industries. That includes space. They should take a page, we think, from the EU's book where they're gearing up to fine internet companies six percent of global revenue for violating the Digital Services Act around illegal and harmful content. And for those keeping track, a six percent fine against Dish would have been over -- just a bit over one billion dollars. To solve the space debris problem, billions sounds a bit closer to reality than thousands. Commercial LEO Destinations may be in a bit of trouble. In an exclusive, Reuters reports that Blue Origin is reshuffling its partnership and staff, originally set for building a commercial space station. They had originally supported a partnership with Sierra Space to build the Orbital Reef space station. Blue is now shifting focus to other projects like their Moon lander and human spaceflight programs. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman may also withdraw its bid for a commercial space station, shifting to support Voyager Space and Airbus's Joint Venture instead. This, alongside Blue Origin's wavering commitment reflects a challenging future, as NASA seeks commercial successors to the International Space Station. It may also be an early sign that the program just isn't financially viable for these large commercial players. But there are other players as well. Vast Space has indicated its interest in private space stations, and could launch modules as early as 2025. Seemingly in response, NASA is urging firms to share their insights on the criteria for the Commercial LEO Development Program. Through a request for information announced this week, NASA is hoping to refine its requirements to ensure cost effectiveness for their commercial partners. A team at Colorado of Mines, funded by a two million US dollar NASA grant, is developing a method to extract aluminum from lunar soil. There's no information on whether Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck were involved. The technology will be critical for building a sustainable moon base. By melting lunar soil and electrolyzing it, the researchers aim to produce aluminum for core infrastructure, reducing the hefty cost of transporting raw materials to the Moon. The US Air Force Research Lab has selected Lockheed Martin, Intuitive Machines, and Westinghouse Government Services for a program that seeks to mature technologies to facilitate the development of nuclear-powered spacecraft. The contracts are part of AFRL's Joint Emergent Technology Supplying On-orbit Nuclear Power effort, known as "JETSON", which is managed by the Space Vehicle's directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. AFRL is looking for use of nuclear fission, rather than solar panels, to provide electrical power to subsystems such as onboard sensors, communications payloads, and computers. Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $33 million contract. Westinghouse is receiving almost $17 million. And the contract for Intuitive Machines is worth 9.5 million. All three contractors are required to deliver their products by December 29, 2025. European launch services are having a tough time as of late. Although the next Vega flight, VV23 is planned for later this week, the Vega-C's launch has been pushed back to no earlier than the latter part of 2024. The European Space Agency's Independent Inquiry Commission recently completed its review of the anomaly that occurred during a test of Vega-C's Zefiro-40 motor in June. The commission concluded that the nozzle design was the fault of the failure, and a task force steered by ESA and Avio has been set up and will immediately start to implement the recommendations proposed by the commission. VV23 will be carrying payloads from Thailand and Taiwan. A further Vega flight is expected during the second quarter of next year, ahead of the inaugural Vega-C liftoff. Astroport Space Technologies has announced a partnership with Luxemburg based InterFlight Global Europe to launch Astroport Space Technologies, also known as "Astroport Europe". The new European subsidiary will focus on developing the lunar construction and operations technologies needed to support the Astroport's goals of placing lunar surface infrastructure assets, such as roads and landing pads, to support the NASA Artemis program, commercial mining missions, and establishing a permanent presence on the Moon. China has announced at the 74th International Astronautical Congress, held in Azerbaijan, that they are open to international collaboration on their next lunar mission. The Chinese National Space Administrations say that they will set aside 200 kilograms of payload resources for international partners on the Chang'e-8 lander. The deadline for submissions for the mission is December 31st of this year, and the Chang'e-8 mission is scheduled for launch in 2028.

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That concludes our intelligence briefing for today. If you're interested in reading more about any of the stories that we've mentioned, you'll find links to further reading in our show notes. We've included a few extra articles as well, of course; one on the US Defense Logistics Agency's support of space missions, another on building cyber-resilient satellites, and the last on GPS's role in the new space race. You'll find them all at space.n2k.com, and just click on this podcast episode. 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, and we certainly hope that you do, please share it so other professionals like you can find the show. Thank you so much for your support. It means a lot to me and to all of us here at T-Minus.

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T-Minus is excited to partner this year with AIAA on the ASCEND Conference, which is happening in Las Vegas later this month, from October 23rd through the 25th. Our team will be in Vegas to speak with industry leaders and cover the discussions that come out of this gathering. We recently spoke to executive director of AIAA, Dan Dumbacher, on the organization's vision for the annual ASCEND event.

>> Dan Dumbacher: AIAA is the world's largest aerospace professional society, 30,000 members around the world. And our role is to help our members and all of their organizations be successful in the aerospace industry. Coming up in October is what we call "ASCEND", "Accelerating Space Commerce and Exploration and New Discovery" in Las Vegas, October 23rd through the 25th. The idea here is to bring the entire space community together, the civil space community, the commercial space community, and the national security space communities, so that we can work on problems together, understand what everybody's needs are, help communicate out what's happening, and tie the technical research with the economics and all of the business plans in this emerging commercial space business, and also with the policymakers so that we can continue to move forward what the industry needs to help build that cislunar space ecosystem and to help everyone be successful. You can see with what's happening with Blue Origin, and SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic, and all of the growing emerging companies, you can see this opportunity for new markets, new products. The comparison I use with the students of today is when I got out of school, you only had the opportunity to work on Space Shuttle, Hubble Space Telescope, and a few missions, Spacelab, those kinds of things. Nowadays, we have gone from that situation to where there's the national security space that has grown tremendously, commercial space companies are growing and they are developing those new markets, those new launch vehicles. And it's just a tremendous growth. We know that there are situations that need to be addressed, things like space debris, space traffic management, and we have a task force set up with that. And that becomes a big part of the ASCEND conversation that we'll have in October. And if you want to build a cislunar space economy, you have to figure out how to manage and coordinate all of the debris that's already in orbit so that people can put their products where they want to put their products, and therefore deliver the services that make the businesses viable. So we're working on all of that together, and we want to help continue to advocate for the peaceful use of outer space, and help build that economic engine all the way to the moon and eventually beyond, for the benefit of all humankind. Several years ago, we started an effort of helping make people aware of what the cybersecurity needs so that it could be factored into the design and development operations process upfront. And you will see cybersecurity content across all of our AIAA events. ASCEND is the space event, Cytek, our research and development event, and Aviation, our aeronautics event all have elements of cybersecurity in there, because everything we do now with -- particularly with the autonomous systems must be able and capable of protecting itself from a cybersecurity perspective. We have brought in new cybersecurity companies, we get them connected with the aerospace companies and we bring together the people to get those conversations going so that they start working on the problem early. We will also do smaller events around certain topics, like autonomy, or space traffic coordination, or cybersecurity, so that people with the right interest and their right needs can all get together. And then there's also all of our publications, the different journals and the technical papers that come from the conferences is how we share the knowledge. And we purposely try to set up and look for ways to get those connections made. Our job at AIAA, as much as anything, is to share the knowledge and help build the connections. And we do that from across the technical, professional community, as well as the policy and economics communities, so that it's all working together. These challenges we talk about for the future of the industry are not just country-centric. They involve the globe. And there are allies and there are adversaries. And we have to navigate through all of that. But I can't work on space traffic coordination, or cislunar space economy, or autonomous aircraft, without bringing together and connecting the international efforts into this as well, because it all has to work together. So a little under 20% of our membership is international. We are reaching out more and more to them, and we're looking for those opportunities to help connect those dots. Because these are global problems and we need everybody working together. Our mission statement is to help our organizations and our professionals succeed, and so we have to stay abreast of what the industry needs are moving forward and get ahead of it so that we can help channel the efforts where they need to be channeled and make sure our role is to help all of the industry. And so we -- you see us working at a certain level. We will stay out of the company agendas and business plans. We are aware of them so that we can help the industry. They help define for us what needs to be accomplished. And our job is to bring all of the aerospace professionals and the adjacent markets, the adjacent technologies that can help solve the problems, bring all of that together; and we do this with ASCEND, so that we can work on those tangible products, those tangible outcomes that the industry needs to be successful. And so that's going to be our focus. And to help -- and in doing that, we bring along the workforce of the future. We're addressing the problems and the space, the research and development in the aviation domains, and thereby helping the whole industry. So it's quite a job, quite a challenge, but it's our role, and we work hard at it. Everybody come join us at ASCEND in Las Vegas October 23rd to the 25th. We're expecting at least 2,000 people there with speakers, and technical sessions, and all kinds of opportunities to network and to learn what the latest is going on from a company perspective, research perspective, and a government perspective. So we look forward to that. And then after that, hey, join AIAA, join our task forces and help us solve the problems that are needed to help make society's [inaudible] better, because that's what we want to do.

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>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back. [Music] Welcome back. And yesterday we commiserated with the Indian Space Research Organization after reporting the end of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. But today, we're buoyed by the start of the next lunar exploration, this time by the Japanese. SLIM -- and that's the Smart Lander for Investigating Moons spacecraft, launched in early September, alongside the XRISM Satellite. On Saturday, the vehicle performed an engine burn to leave Earth's orbit and head to the Moon. JAXA says that SLIM is due to have its first interaction with our nearest natural satellite on October 4th. Now, that doesn't mean we should expect a lunar landing anytime soon. That is still a month or two away. If successful, though, SLIM's touchdown will add Japan to just a handful of countries to successfully soft land on the Moon. We hope SLIM arrives in lunar orbit as expected, tomorrow afternoon. The world is watching you, JAXA, and we're all wishing you the best of luck.

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That's it for T-Minus for October 3, 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 design by Elliott Peltzman. Our executive producer is Brandon Karpf. Our chief intelligence officer is Eric Tillman. And I'm Maria Varmazis. Thanks for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.

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