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International collaborations on the horizon.

The US signs an agreement to launch from Australia. MDA contracts with SpaceX. AFRL leads the first international CRADA with Indian startups. And more.





The United States and Australia have signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement opening opportunity for US participation in space launches from Australia. Canada’s MDA has selected SpaceX to be the launch service provider for the space technology firm's next-generation satellite constellation for Earth observation known as CHORUS.  Scientists from the Air Force Research Lab are leading the first non-domestic Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the US Space Force and two Indian companies, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Dr. Mindy Howard, founder and CEO of Cosmic Girls Foundation.

You can connect with Mindy on LinkedIn and learn more about the Cosmic Girls Foundation on their website.

Selected Reading

Canada's MDA taps SpaceX to launch CHORUS satellite constellation- Reuters

IHS Towers Partners with Limitless Space Institute to Inspire Space Exploration and Education in Brazil and Nigeria- Business Wire

1st international CRADA between AFRL, Indian startups ignites strategic collaboration for USSF in space technologies

SDA gets OK to begin limited testing of data satellites Link 16 nodes

Putin aims to have Russian space station by 2027- Reuters


Space Force sees SATCOM awards surging to $20 billion this fiscal year

Space Force Solidifies New JTAGS Mission With Stand-Up of Squadron and Detachment

Artificial Intelligence in Its Many Forms Will Be the Most Important Area of Technology in 2024, According to New IEEE Global Survey of CIOs, CTOs and Technology Leaders

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>> Maria Varmazis: International collaboration. It fosters a different kind of curiosity, perspective, and learning. When two nations can work together in harmony, great things can happen. It's like the combination of peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, peas and carrots.

>> Alice Caruth: The worm and the meatball. Maria and Alice.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yes.

>> Alice Caruth: We have a special relationship.

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>> Maria Varmazis: Today is October 27, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis.

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

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>> Maria Varmazis: The U.S signs an agreement to launch from Australia. MDA contracts with Space X. ARFL leads the first international CRADA with Indian start ups.

>> Alice Caruth: And our guest today is Dr. Mindy Howard talking about her new project, Cosmic Girl Foundation. So stay with us for that chat.

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>> Maria Varmazis: On to today's intelligence briefing. Yesterday we noted an innovation alliance between the U.S and Australia, and today there's an interesting addendum to that news that we want to note. The United States and Australia have also signed a technology safeguards agreement associated with the U.S participation in space launches from Australia. And this agreement gives the legal and technical framework for U.S space launches of satellites or rockets from Australian spaceports while making sure that sensitive technology is properly handled. Equatorial Launch Australia or ELA which owns and operates Australia's leading spaceport, the Arnhem Space Centre, put out a statement shortly after welcoming this news. Chairman and group CEO of ELA, Michael Jones, said this. We have been engaged in negotiating with U.S rocket manufacturers for several years now and we've all been awaiting the TSA completion. Today's events are great news for us and clears the way for us to finalize our contracts with U.S launchers. The agreement with the U.S will be the most comprehensive and detailed TSA of its kind for any nation. And there has been a lot of effort by key Australian space industry parties and government entities behind the scenes to ensure that we get this right.

>> Alice Caruth: I think you should have said that in your Australian accent, Maria. It would have made much more sense.

>> Maria Varmazis: I'll sound like the dad from "Bluey" if I try so I don't really want to do that.

>> Alice Caruth: I love it. And the international collaboration theme will be continuing in the next few stories. Canada's MDA has selected Space X to be the launch service provider for the space technology firm's next generation satellite constellation for Earth observation known as Chorus. Chorus will initially include C band and X band synthetic aperture radar satellites. MDA's Chorus constellation is due to launch on Space X's Vulcan Nine rocket in the fourth quarter of 2025.

>> Maria Varmazis: Telecommunications infrastructure provider IHS Towers has announced a one year partnership with nonprofit education and research organization the Limitless Space Institute. The partnership is designed to help broaden access to space education across two of IHS Towers' largest markets. 20 STEM educators from Brazil and Nigeria will be invited to join the 12 month Limitless global educator program and access a carefully curated space education curriculum. They will also be able to attend the Limitless Space summer program in Texas for hands on workshops. More information can be found through the link in our selected reading section of our show notes.

>> Alice Caruth: Scientists from the Air Force Research Lab known as AFRL are leading the first non domestic cooperative research and development agreement or CRADA between the U.S space force and companies located outside the U.S. Two Indian start ups, 114 AI, an artificial intelligence firm, and Third Eye Tech, India's sole image sensor company, will work in partnership with AFRL's space vehicles direct trip. This signing is the U.S space force's first non domestic CRADA with any industry partner. The agreement is part of the India U.S Defense Acceleration Ecosystem or INDUS X, a network fostering joint defense technology innovation between the two countries' universities, start ups, industry, and think tanks as part of the U.S India initiative on critical and emerging technology or ICET.

>> Maria Varmazis: The space development agency has won international telecommunication union approval to test the transport layer satellites over international waters and the territory of an unnamed allied nation. This comes as the Department of Defense continues to debate with the Federal Aviation Administration over the use of the military data and communications link over U.S territory. The SDA continues to pursue a temporary frequency assignment from the FAA that would allow it to begin testing with the support of military partners. The ITU approvals for the experimental use of link 16 signals from the radios being flown on the York Tranche 0 transport satellites. The SDA plans to put some 400 of its transport layer satellites in orbit by the end of the 2028, developing and launching new variants or tranches every two years.

>> Alice Caruth: Russian president Vladimir Putin has reiterated his desire to have Russia's new orbital station in operation by 2027. Speaking to space industry officials in Moscow, Putin said, "As the resources of the International Space Station run out, we need not one segment, but the entire station to be brought into service." The head of Roscosmos, Yury Borisov, was quoted as saying, "If we don't start large scale work on creating a Russian orbital station in 2024, it is quite likely that we will lose our capability because of the time gap. What I mean is ISS will no longer be there and the Russian station won't be ready." He also said that Russia's next moon launch might be moved forward to 2026 from 2027 as currently planned.

>> Maria Varmazis: And over 180 university teams from across the world have applied to the 2024 Space Port America Cup intercollegiate rocket competition. The final selections will be announced next month and the event is due to be held at Space Port America from June 17 through the 22nd of next year. For more information, visit soundingrocket.org.

>> Alice Caruth: That concludes our briefing for today. If you want to learn 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 stories for you to read up on, one on space [inaudible] spending for the coming fiscal year and another on their day tags mission. And a final piece from I triple E on artificial intelligence. They're all at space.n2k.com.

>> Maria Varmazis: Hey, T-Minus crew, we've got something a little different for your Saturday listening. As we mentioned earlier this week, tomorrow we have Kathy O'Donnell, leader of space solutions architecture for AWS aerospace and satellite, for the first of our miniseries called AWS in Orbit where we explore the intersection of cloud, space, and AI technologies. Give it a listen when you're on the road or in your down time at home. And visit space.n2k.com/aws for more details.

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>> Maria Varmazis: Our guest today is Dr. Mindy Howard, founder and CEO of Cosmic Girls Foundation. I asked Mindy to tell us more about the foundation.

>> Mindy Howard: I'm a commercial S [inaudible] trainer my day job, but I'm also my day job now a director of Cosmic Girls Foundation. It's a foundation to actually help get girls up skilled to space actually and feeding the astronaut technical talent pipeline with more capable girls around the world from all walks of life. So it's really a charity as well as a program to help get girls up skilled.

>> Maria Varmazis: That's really cool. And I'm going to shift slightly into some -- it's going to seem really random to our listeners, but I promise there's a reason I'm asking. What is the connection to the Royal Dutch Mint?

>> Mindy Howard: Okay. Well, it's actually that's how the charity all started. Essentially as one of the first commercial astronaut trainers I was asked a few years ago to train at a company a group of people to space who were having a competition. And I was going to train and coach these winners and it was going to happen this year, but then we had a pandemic. Nonetheless the Dutch media picked up on this story because if I were to have flown this year I would have been the first Dutch female astronaut to go to space. And for that reason in the last few years there's been a lot of media attention around that. I have two passports, American as well as Dutch. And so shift to the Royal Dutch Mint. Last November when the Royal Dutch Mint kind of approached me they said they wanted to make a first Dutch woman space coin. So they're having the first Dutch woman to space. But I felt funny because I hadn't flown yet to space. And, you know, I thought maybe we could actually shift the theme of the coin to say, you know, the Netherlands is one of many countries that doesn't have a female representing them in space. In fact, there were only 12 countries in the world that have had women represent them with only 12% of people going to space being women. So perhaps we could use this coin to kind of get that awareness out and try to shift these statistics by helping fill the female astronaut talent pipeline with more capable girls. And so yeah. Essentially the coin came first and then I started to think about, you know, what -- how we could use the coin actually to do this. And thinking, well, we need to have a charity that has -- that does all of these things. And that's how the charity started. I didn't intentionally start out to make a charity to do this, but when life hands you -- I don't know what the expression is.

>> Maria Varmazis: A coin?

>> Mindy Howard: A coin. Exactly. You go and do a charity. Exactly.

>> Maria Varmazis: And for our listeners who haven't seen it, I'm just going to describe it really quick. It's the backside of a 1 euro coin. It has women to space with a woman astronaut with like a ponytail coming out of the back of --

>> Mindy Howard: Gravity defying hair.

>> Maria Varmazis: Gravity defying hair. It's really I thought that was really cute. But I just figured I should -- we should mention that at the start because it is a really interesting origin story.

>> Mindy Howard: Yes. And people, by the way, can buy these coins all over the world because that's the idea. And yeah. They do support our charity if you buy a coin.

>> Maria Varmazis: Obviously the way it started, the idea is really interesting. So tell me a bit about the tag line is dream, dare, do. Launching dreams in girls and girls into space. So tell me a bit about what you're actually doing.

>> Mindy Howard: Okay. So we say like the road to becoming an astronaut is very demanding. I mean I know this from my own background trying to get to space. You know, based on several times getting very close. And I think it requires mastering three main skill sets which we refer to as our astronaut building solar system where we have, you know, getting more girls into STEM, getting key life skills like ingrained within girls, and then astronaut skills. So these three areas of getting girls really equipped with STEM skills -- when I say key life skills I'm talking about things like grit and resilience and leadership. But also the astronaut skills of things like mental preparedness, scuba, being a pilot, having high G training, low G training, all of these things kind of help build your muscles around becoming an astronaut. And we thought if we could sort of up skill girls in these areas more girls will feel like this is the place that they want to be. And they're welcome. You know, they feel strong enough to be here and they believe that they're actually meant to be here and it's a place for them as well. So what we did is we created a competition just to make things exciting, but also to make things global. I think it's called the six girl six continents competition where girls can send in videos, two videos, and I'll -- I can't say yet what those videos are about, but tune in to our website and you can see more information about that in the coming months. But essentially the girls will send in the videos. They're exposed to our worldwide partners who are doing these key life skills as well as the STEM skills and doing also space education. So girls can say like, "If I want to beef up my leadership skills, I might need to go and join this partner." They sign up with the partner. All of the girls who sign up as a cosmic girl, they get that training. So everybody is a winner, first of all. But then later on there will be a judge from each of the continents who will judge the videos that are coming in and each judge will select the girl from each continent who will then go on to become a finalist to win the astronaut training part of the competition. And six girls and a parent or guardian will be flown to the different astronaut training locations where they will get their training. And then one girl out of those six will become sort of the grand prize winner who will actually win a sub orbital space flight.

>> Maria Varmazis: Oh. Can you say with who or is that -- is that a --

>> Mindy Howard: It's -- well, I have to say I can't say with who because we're kind of in the middle of figuring all this stuff out. I can't say it yet. But --

>> Maria Varmazis: Figured I would ask. It's really cool. That's so cool. I mean I love that there is such a global emphasis on this. Because, as you said, I have a t-shirt with all the women who have been -- the first women to space. It is a short list which always kind of gets me because it's like, wow, is it still so short? So yeah. Any sense of like what countries are being represented with this round of girls this year or just everywhere?

>> Mindy Howard: Yeah no. It's meant for girls everywhere. And we don't -- we haven't yet got our first applications because that's coming in a couple months.

>> Maria Varmazis: Got you. Got you. Okay.

>> Mindy Howard: I can't say yet, you know, where they're coming from, but I have to say I already have had girls sort of finding me out and hunting me down and contacting me from all walks of life, from all over the place. You know, and it's funny because we sent the press release out and was curious who this would have reached. And I've gotten some countries from -- that we actually didn't specifically put the press release out in that country just because there's sometimes some cost issues in doing all -- to send it to every single country. And still we managed to get some far away places. Like wow. We didn't even advertise there and we're getting girls already interested. So I cannot wait to see where they're all going to be coming from, yeah, in a few months' time.

>> Maria Varmazis: That demonstrates there is a great need and a great interest certainly. I'm looking at the age range on the website. These are girls ages, what, 14 to 19. So these are not like little tiny kids who are just kind of dreaming of it. These are girls that are on their way.

>> Mindy Howard: They're on their way. Yeah. And they have big dreams or they want to test their big dream muscles. And we want to kind of make it for them like that they are very welcome to test them with us. And to keep going and daring to dream. Because we want to be there to support them. That's what we're here for. So it is -- it is an honor to serve these girls and to try to sort of make it all happen for them.

>> Maria Varmazis: I mean obviously with your story also it seems like a personal mission for you as well. Given that you are going to be the first Dutch woman in space, you know, that seems like it's a big deal. That's -- I can completely imagine that, you know, wanting to sort of help other girls get to where you are going.

>> Mindy Howard: For sure. I really wish somebody would have done this for me back in the day because it just makes such a difference when you have somebody in your camp believing in you, pushing you, saying you're meant to be there versus I think in my situation where I've had to sort of fight every battle. It was always an uphill thing. You know, always kind of feeling like I was not invited into the good old boys' network that would often sort of get in the way of me doing my own space training business and, you know, it was clear they were on the inside, I was on the outside, and no one ever really gave me a leg up. And I just thought I don't want other girls to have to experience this. I know it can't, you know, sort of prevent this, but I would like them all to feel as welcome as possible and that they are meant to be there. And to grow a network for them that, you know, they just go and kick some butt. That would make me very happy.

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>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back. Welcome back. So checking in on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample retrieval mission now, that canister of rock and dust from Bennu that landed all wonderfully in the Utah desert recently, well NASA's very happily letting us know that they've already surpassed their goal of getting 60 grams of material back to Earth mostly from the outside of the sampler head. That's 70.3 grams they've got, to be precise. What's been interesting is there's still no word about what they found inside the TAGSAM or the touch and go sample acquisition mechanism. You know, the Bennu sampler jar for lack of a better term. And there's a reason for it. Quite simply, the lid is stuck.

>> Alice Caruth: Open the --

>> Maria Varmazis: Oh yeah. We've all been there. They've tried and tried and the darn thing won't budge. 2 of the 35 fasteners on the TAGSAM head, literally the lid, won't come off with their current approved tool set. So they've got to find a different way to pry that lid off without contaminating or otherwise messing up the precious samples inside. And they're working on it, says NASA. Over the next few weeks they're figuring out a safe method and practicing what to do in hopes that we soon will get to see the bulk of what the OSIRIS-REx sampler return brought home. I'll be very curious to find out what they end up trying here to loosen the lid because I doubt using a tea towel or running the lid under hot water or smacking the TAGSAM in frustration against the kitchen counter top are NASA approved methods.

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>> Alice Caruth: That's it for "T-Minus" for October the 27th, 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'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.

>> 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 Tre 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 great weekend.

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