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Stoke unveils a bright future for Nova.

Stoke Space raises $100M. US Space Force seeks proposals for national security launches. SatVu releases imagery from its thermal imaging satellite. And more.





Stoke Space has raised $100 million dollars in a Series B investment drive. The US Space Force has released a request for proposals for the next phase of national security launches. British climate tech company SatVu, has released the First Light imagery from its thermal imaging satellite, HOTSAT-1, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Dr. John J. Klein is a senior fellow and strategist with Delta Solutions and Strategies. John has released the book “Fight for the Final Frontier: Irregular Warfare in Space” available now from all good retailers.

You can connect with John on LinkedIn.

Selected Reading

Stoke Space Announces $100 Million in New Investment- PR

Machina's $32m Series B Fundraise- PR

Rocket Lab Opens Engine Development Center in Long Beach

National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 3 Lane 2 Request for Proposal (RFP)

Space Force Takes Over JTAGS Mission from the Army

 China launches new remote sensing satellite - CGTN

HOTSAT-1: 'World's thermometer' sends back first pictures of Earth's hotspots in 'milestone for climate monitoring'- Sky News

2023 Annular Eclipse: Where & When

Good heavens: How light pollution is threatening our sky- The Parliament

2023 ASCEND to Feature NASA’s William H. Pickering Lecture Showcasing Climate Science Advances

2023 ASCEND Adds Lunar Luncheon Session – Chandrayaan-3: The Journey to the Moon

NASA’s Honey Astrobee Robot Returns to Space- NASA

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>> Maria Varmazis: Space sustainability is the buzzword in the industry. So, how can one get to space without causing a large impact on the environment? Space-X has led the way with their Reduce/Reuse method to transportation. Well, you've seen many other commercial companies jump on the bandwagon, too. Rocket Lab recently touted their reusable rocket, and Stoke has been a name that's popped up a few times over the years, and it seems we may be hearing some more from them after today's announcement.

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Today is October 6th, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis.

>> Alice Caruth: I'm Alice Caruth, and this is T-Minus.

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>> Maria Varmazis: Stoke Space raises $100 million in new investment. The U.S. Space Force is seeking proposals for the next phase of national security launches. SatVu has released the first light imagery from its thermal imaging satellite.

>> Alice Caruth: And our guest today is Dr. John Klein, a Senior Fellow and Strategist with Delta Solutions and Strategies on his new book on irregular warfare in space.

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>> Maria Varmazis: Onto today's Intelligence Briefing. Stoke Space has raised a whopping $100 million in a Series B investment drive. The reusable rocket company says, "This new capital, more than doubles the company's total funding, which now sits at $175 million." So, it seems that a sustainable approach to space is enticing to investors. Stoke say they intend to use the funding to finance the development of their first stage rocket engine and structure, the orbital version of their reusable second stage, and new construction at the historic Launch Complex 14 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Stoke has been granted dedicated use of Launch Complex 14 by the U.S. Space Force for its orbital flights. In addition to the new funding announcement, Stoke also unveiled the name of their rocket: NOVA. The company's CEO and Co-Founder, Andy Lapsa, said, "Our vehicle designs build on the ideas and achievements of prior generations. The name 'NOVA' is a way to honor that past heritage, while looking ahead to a very exciting future."

>> Alice Caruth: Los Angeles based Machina Labs has raised $32 million in the Series B investment round. Machina Labs combines AI and robotics to manufacture advanced composites and metal products. This latest funding brings the total raised by Machina Labs to $45 million. The investment will be used to meet customer demand, to further intensify research initiatives, and to continue delivering innovative solutions that exceed customer expectations. The company received a U.S. Air Force Research Lab contract earlier this year to advance and accelerate the development of its robotic technology for manufacturing of metal tooling, for a high-rate production of composites.

>> Maria Varmazis: Space Beach has a new addition or an updated one, we should say. Rocket Lab has opened a new engine development facility at the old version orbit site in Long Beach, California. The manufacturing complex will support the production of Rocket Lab's 3D printed Rutherford engine, as well development and production for the new Archimedes engine that will power the company's medium-lift rocket, Neutron. Rocket Lab took over the lease for the facility from Virgin Orbit, and acquired the factory's production assets, machinery, and equipment in May of this year for over $16 million.

>> Alice Caruth: The U.S. Space Force has released a request for proposals for the next phase of the national security launches. The National Security Space Launch Phase 3 Lane 2 request is looking for partners to provide assured access to space for the integrated space architecture at affordable prices. The Phase 3 acquisition strategy consists of a dual-line approach with two separate contract types to fulfill program and national security requirements. The service issued draft solicitations earlier this year and gathered feedback from companies before releasing the final RFP. We've included the RFP in our Show Notes for more details.

>> Maria Varmazis: And a final story from the U.S. Space Force. The branch has assumed official control of the Joint Tactical Ground Station Mission Warning System, known as JTAGS, from the Army. Assuming control of JTAGS is one of the final milestones in the Space Force's consolidation of many space missions across the services.

>> Alice Caruth: China launched a new remote-sensing satellite from the satellite launch center in Sichuan province. The Yaogan-39 satellite was launched on a Long March-2D carrier rocket. According to Chinese media, the launch was the 490th mission undertaken by the Long March rocket series.

>> Maria Varmazis: British climate tech company SatVu has released the first light imagery from its thermal imaging satellite, HOTSAT-1, at the same time as announcing their move into commercial operations. SatVu's mission is to leverage space technology for climate and environmental insights, as they launch commercial operations. HOTSAT-1 was launched into orbit in June aboard a Space-X rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base. As the first satellite in the plan constellation, SatVu says, "HOTSAT-1 will provide invaluable and unique data-enabling transformation in economic activities and energy efficiency, aligning seamlessly with global net zero goals and SDG's." To date, SatVu has secured over $37 million in venture capital funding. With the successful launch and start of commercial service complete, SatVu anticipates embarking on a Series B funding round in Q1 2024, to propel the growth of their satellite constellation, enabling high-frequency thermal monitoring at scale.

>> Alice Caruth: Virgin Galactic just held their fifth commercial space flight this year from Space Port America. On board was the first space flight participant from Pakistan. The flight took three passengers and three crew members to an altitude of over 50 miles and returned them safely to Space Port America's runway. The space tourism company's on track to hold monthly launches from its New Mexico base.

>> Maria Varmazis: And staying in New Mexico with Alice, White Sands Missile Range will launch three Black Brant IX sounding rockets as part of a NASA mission to capture scientific data during a solar eclipse taking place next Saturday, October 14th. The NASA mission is called Atmospheric Perturbations Around Eclipse Path, or APEP. Perturbations simply means variations in the atmosphere if you were a little caught up on that one word as I was. Three identical payloads will be launched during the annular eclipse. The first payload will launch 40 minutes before peak eclipse, the second at peak, and the third 40 minutes past peak. This will be the first time for simultaneous multi-point spatio-temporal in-situ observations of electrodynamics and neutral dynamics associated with solar eclipses. Say that three times fast. We've included a map of the best spots to view next week's annular solar eclipse in our Show Notes.

>> Alice Caruth: It's in my backyard. Whoo-hoo. And the International Astronautical Congress 2023 wrapped up today in Baku, Azerbaijan, announcing that IAC 2024 will be in, drumroll please, Milan, Italy. This will be the 75th IAC and the theme will be "Responsible Space Force Sustainability." We said it was a hot topic right now, with a goal of raising awareness in the international community of the need to use the space environment more consciously and responsibly. So, yes, Milan, Italy, IAC 2024 will be from the 14th to the 18th of October of next year. We hope to see you there.

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>> Maria Varmazis: And that concludes our briefing for today. You'll find links to further reading on all the stories we've mentioned in our Show Notes. We've even added extra on light pollution threatening our dark skies, and another on new additions to the ASCEND line-up in Vegas later this month. One showcasing Climate Science Advancements, and another on Chandrayaan-3 with ISRO. You'll find them all at space.n2k.com and click on this episode.

>> Alice Caruth: 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 Dr. John Klein talking about his book, "Fight for the Final Frontier: Irregular Warfare in Space." Check it out while you're out enjoying the weekend on your downtime, or in between errands. You don't want to miss it.

>> Maria Varmazis: And an additional programming note for you. Monday is Indigenous People's Day in the United States, and we will be taking a break. Don't fret though. We have an incredible episode for you. We thought, "What better way to celebrate Indigenous People's Day than to speak to the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to fly in space?" So, look out for our Career Notes with retired U.S. Navy Aviator and former NASA Astronaut, John Herrington. It's such a great listen and John's story is amazing, and he tells it so well. Definitely, don't miss it.

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Our guest today is retired U.S. Navy Commander, Dr. John Klein. John is a Senior Fellow and Strategist with Delta Solutions and Strategies, and an Instructor on Space Policy and Strategy. He's recently released a new book called, "Fight for the Final Frontier: Irregular Warfare in Space," and it's available now from all good retailers. And I started by asking John, "What irregular warfare in space means?"

>> John Klein: I mean, it's probably -- the term is thrown around a lot, but probably very misunderstood, but I'll give you the definition that I use in the book. So, irregular warfare is apart from major conventional wars against an enemy who takes a similar approach. Now, so basically, you -- you know, your audience may kind of be kind of rolling their eyes, "Say, hey [inaudible], you just defined irregular warfare as the opposite of regular warfare." And that is okay. We do that all the time in strategic studies. We have the direct and indirect approach. We have symmetric and asymmetrical. So, irregular warfare only has meaning in the context of regular warfare.

But what's important to understand is irregular warfare is not an irregular occurrence. It happens all the time and most conflicts are either below the threshold of major conventional conflicts or have elements of both regular and irregular. And we see that throughout history. So again, it's not a special occurrence, but you know, it's important to realize where it fits in the hierarchy and what we're talking about.

So, these actions that are below the threshold of armed conflict can be coercive. They can be competition. You know, the U.S. jargon, we kind of call it Grey Zone operations sometimes. Like -- because we like to bifurcate. We have peace or we have conflict, right? Well, no, no. There's a lot of stuff in between. So, and different domains can be in different ranges of that competition continuum, too.

>> Maria Varmazis: Putting on my old cyber hat, I can probably imagine a little bit of what we mean by irregular warfare, especially if it comes to cyber in space, but what are we talking about when we talk about these kinds of tactics? What are we looking at?

>> John Klein: So, thanks for keying up the cyber space domain, too. So again, going back to the definition, it's below the threshold, major force on force action. So, let's look to current events. Let's look to Ukraine. So, tying in that cyber, we had cyber-attacks against the Viasat, ahead of the Ukrainian invasion. We have jamming of radio frequency spectra. So, of communications satellites. We have ongoing lasing of electrical optical sensors on satellites. We have concerns with proximity operations of satellites getting close to each other. What does that mean? Are you trained to convey some message? But what's fascinating is that the cyberspace domain and the space domain are kind of intertwined, so sometimes cyber actions or cyber warfare could be considered space warfare, too, because at times they are kind of interspersed, or intermingled.

But you know, drawing upon the cyberspace domain, you know, they're dealing with this already. I mean, there's cyberattacks going on all the time. So, you could say there -- you know, nobody's dying, right? It's not a force on force. So, you could say, based on that definition that irregular warfare of the competition is relevant there, too.

>> Maria Varmazis: Backing out a little bit, given the current events, certainly a lot of -- there's been a lot of interest about, especially with what happened with Viasat and Ukraine, I'm curious. What that -- did that happen when you were already writing this book, or was there sort of a broader earlier reason where you're like, "I need to write this book"?

>> John Klein: Yes, so I -- this effort's been about over two years in the making. It's amazing how -- what a long process it is. So, I've been writing on space warfare and strategy for 20 years now. So, I started off kind of using a maritime analogy. "Hey, isn't space kind of like the seas? And lines of communication--." And then I kind of expanded that out from just a domain analogy. Going back to the enduring classics like Thucydides, Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Mao, some other strategists that I wrote about in my second book. But what kind of took me back is like, what we saw going on was not really -- was not armed conflict in a conventional sense. It wasn't warfare. And I tried to reconcile, "Well, we have over 40 or 50 years of experience in the space domain. There's stuff going on. What is it? I mean, if I can't look to 'On War' by Clausewitz, or one of these other seminal works, what is helpful?"

So, instead of a domain analogy, I said, "Well--." I was reading a friend of mine's book, B.J. Armstrong wrote basically about the history of irregular warfare in the early U.S. Navy. And he gets to the last chapter, and I said, "Well, good grief. That's -- you know, considering as a mode of warfare, vice analogies to the air domain or the sea domain, you know, maybe we should consider what's going on as irregular?" So, it's below the threshold, and we -- there's actually some really good literature on irregular warfare. United States, we like to forget stuff rather quickly. So, we're kind of doing the dump on Iraq and Afghanistan, when we had to relearn all that stuff. And now we're back to strategic competition with rivals, and who needs that other stuff? But you know, it's not going to be an either/or. It's not -- you know, we're going to have elements of regular and irregular working together. So, it's not -- my book isn't saying, "It's all irregular warfare. Forget about the major force on force," because that's still a concern.

To generalize your question, the answer is, we need for strategists to be practical and if I'm presenting a strategy that's more for, you know, major conflict in space, you know, maybe there's a better approach?

>> Maria Varmazis: So, you've been studying war in space for decades. I mean, I hate to ask the very basic question but trends, what is changing? I mean, yes, talk about summarizing your career in one question. I mean, do you want to take a stab at that?

>> John Klein: So, what's changed since I started writing? So, I call myself a Space Strategist. I get paid money to be a Space Strategist. Those jobs did not exist 20 years ago. And when I started writing, you know, with [inaudible] domain analogies, you know, it was -- and my first article was called, "Corbett in Orbit," after Sir Julian Corbett and using his maritime framework. There was only like five of us that would write about these things, and it was, at the time, it was kind of a giggle factor. Ha, ha, ha. They're talking about space warfare, Star Trek, Star Wars, whatever like that. But it's -- nobody's joking really that much anymore. So, we're, you know, more -- there's more space actors. There's more people interested in space. We're going to the moon. There's interest celestial resources such as water ice on the south pole of the moon. India has successful rover. You know, technology's kind of catching up. Satellites are much more maneuverable now. So, you know, and the definition of what a space weapon is, is still to this day kind of ambiguous, because the dual use technologies, and the questions about knowing intent.

But one of the big things is just the role of the commercial sector. So, the U.S. and western liberal democracies look to their commercial companies for technological innovation and the like. But you know, from a space warfare perspective and space strategy perspective, you know, the role of commercial companies is proxy war. That is ripe for the taking. So, you know, again looking at the Ukraine, we had Space-X's Starlink constellation providing services to the Ukrainian military. Putin says, "I consider Space-X to be an extension of the United States." And whether he goes after Starlink will probably be a political decision, vice, you know, are they really providing the services and stuff like that? But you know, the idea of proxies and proxy war for space, that is definitely new.

There's other concerns like in the book, I talk about lawfare. The -- distorting international legal regimes for advantage. But there's concerns there on arms control agreements. When we go to the moon, how much -- you know, you can't claim sovereignty according to the Outer Space Treaty, but the Artemis Accords, we are okay with establishing safety zones. So, what is a safety zone? How is that communicated? Are you establishing a de-facto keep-out-zone? Are we bypassing the whole sovereignty thing? There's just -- there's so much there, but I'm excited, you know, there's so much interest in space right now, whether it's the moon or you know, going to Mars. So, I think the book is important for that to put things in historical context.

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>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back.

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Welcome back. Okay, hands up. Who purchased a robo vacuum cleaner in the last few years?

>> Alice Caruth: Yes, guilty. Got two.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yes, me too. We're all guilty of wanting a robot to do the menial tasks around the house, like cleaning. And it seems the astronauts on the ISS are no exception. Who could blame them? They've been using robots for a number of years now to help monitor radiation and air quality and find missing items around the floating lab. First there was the Quad, and now it's the Astro Bee. Now, they've been without their humming friend for 12 months as the robots were returned to earth for maintenance and updates, but this week, NASA Astronaut Woody Hoburg, helped unpack Honey from its flight container, and verified that the robot was ready to get back to work. Now, Honey is an Astro Bee, a free-flying robot designed to work on the International Space Station. It can navigate around the ISS autonomously and will perform useful tasks for the astronauts. It also proves as an extra set of eyes and ears for Ground Control and can provide transportation of other payloads working on the ISS. The little robots use fans to maneuver themselves around the facility and are able to dock to recharge when needed. No supervision required. So, where can we get one, NASA? Train that thing to pick up Legos off the floor and put them back in their containers, and I will be first in line.

>> Alice Caruth: And I will be second.

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That's it for T-Minus for October the 5th, 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 Caruth, 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. Have a wonderful weekend.

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