<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=205228923362421&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

The Sirius business of lasers and space planes.

NASA holds the farthest-ever demonstration of optical communications. Sierra Space cuts staff. MDA announces a new satellite constellation. And more.




NASA holds the farthest-ever demonstration of optical communications, beaming a near-infrared laser encoded with test data from nearly 10 million miles away. Sierra Space lays off hundreds of members of staff. MDA announces a new Non-Geostationary Orbit satellite constellation, and more.

Remember to leave us a 5-star rating and review in your favorite podcast app.

Miss an episode? Sign up for our weekly intelligence roundup, Signals and Space. And be sure to follow T-Minus on Twitter and LinkedIn.

T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is David Logsdon, Senior Director at the Space Enterprise Council.

You can connect with David on LinkedIn and learn more about the Space Enterprise Council through their affiliate the Information Technology Industry Council.

Selected Reading

NASA’s Deep Space Optical Comm Demo Sends, Receives First Data

Lockheed Martin Prepares First 5G.MIL® Payload for Orbit

Sierra Space lays off hundreds in push toward first Dream Chaser spaceplane launch

MDA Initiates Work On A New Digital Satellite Constellation

Advanced Space's CAPSTONE Operates One Year at the Moon

Telenor sells Satellite unit for $217 mln- Reuters

China launches new-generation marine satellite - CGTN

Space training for African youths opens applications

Controversial Quantum Space Drive In Orbital Test, Others To Follow- Forbes

All systems go: Amazon confirms 100% success rate for Project Kuiper Protoflight mission

1 year after Artemis 1 launch, NASA readies Artemis 2 to shoot for the moon again (video)

T-Minus Crew Survey

We want to hear from you! Please complete our 4 question survey. It’ll help us get better and deliver you the most mission-critical space intel every day.

Want to hear your company in the show?

You too can reach the most influential leaders and operators in the industry. Here’s our media kit. Contact us at space@n2k.com to request more info.

Want to join us for an interview?

Please send your pitch to space-editor@n2k.com and include your name, affiliation, and topic proposal.

T-Minus is a production of N2K Networks, your source for strategic workforce intelligence. © 2023 N2K Networks, Inc.

>> Maria Varmazis: Oh, you know, it's going to be a Good Friday when the first two stories involve lasers and spaceplanes.

>> Alice Carruth: Thank you, Austin Powers, because I don't think anyone is capable of saying lasers without [inaudible].

>> Maria Varmazis: Laser. And it's been a few weeks now, Alice. It's been a few weeks since we've been on together, so I know I'm going to regret this. But due to popular demand, do you have a dad joke for me?

>> Alice Carruth: I knew you'd come to the dark side. I absolutely do. So why didn't the dog star laugh at the joke?

>> Maria Varmazis: I have no idea.

>> Alice Carruth: Because it was too Sirius.

>> Maria Varmazis: Oh, my God [laugh]. And it's an astronomy joke, too. Brava. Bravo.

>> Alice Carruth: Thank you. Thank you.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: Today is November 17, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis.

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

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: NASA holds the farthest ever demonstration of optical communications. Sierra space makes layoffs. MDA announces a new non-geostationary orbit satellite constellation.

>> Alice Carruth: And our guest today is David Logston, Senior Director at the Space Enterprise Council. Stay with us for the second part of the program for his chat with Maria.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: Well, happy Friday, everybody. It's intel briefing time, and let's talk space lasers. NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs are reporting a success for their Deep Space Optical Communications, or DSOC, experiment. On November 14th, we got first light from DSOC, meaning the DSOC experiment beamed test data with a near infrared laser from its home aboard the psyche spacecraft all the way to the hail telescope at Caltech's Palomar Observatory in San Diego County. And that was a distance of 10 million miles, or 16 million kilometers, by the way, not too shabby because that's 40 times the distance of the moon from the Earth. Abi Biswas, project technologist for DSOC at JPL, said, achieving first light is a tremendous achievement. The ground system successfully detected the deep space laser photons from DSOC's flight transceiver aboard psyche, and we were also able to send some data, meaning we were able to exchange bits of light from and to deep space. So cool. JPL, in their announcement, said that this is deep space communication with lasers, emphasis theirs. And this experimental success could really transform how spacecraft communicate with us and with each other. And the hope is that continued tests will help develop high bandwidth data transmission, so lots more information a lot more quickly, something we really need if we are ever going to put humans on Mars or beyond. And by the way, that 10-million-mile downlink distance is also the farthest that optical communications have ever traveled as far as we know for humanity anyway. So congratulations to the JPL team on that nifty record. I'm sure they're going to be breaking it again soon.

>> Alice Carruth: Another week and another round of layoffs are hitting the commercial space companies. Sierra Space is the latest to call members of staff as the company moves into the next phase of its dream chaser space plane development.

>> Maria Varmazis: They're moving into a new phase of development but laying people off. So is that normal?

>> Alice Carruth: In my experience, I'd say for startups it is. I've seen several rounds of this from 2018 to 2022 when I was at Spaceport America with tenants there. It does mean you lose a lot of the institutional knowledge from people that have worked on the programs from the start, but it also means saving a lot of money, which we all know is a necessary thing, especially in the expensive business of space. Now, Sierra Space's spokesperson told CNBC that the company let go of about 165 employees on Thursday, but apparently declined to specify the number of contractors affected. While former Sierra Space employees said that the layoffs included a significant number of the contractors with the cuts including hundreds of personnel in total. We all just want to see that space plane in flight, which is expected next April.

>> Maria Varmazis: Well, Lockheed Martin is making moves into the world of 5G connectivity. The aerospace company says its validated innovative space payload is set to deliver global advanced communications capabilities from orbit. Lockheed Martin demonstrated the industry's first fully regenerative advanced 5G non-terrestrial network satellite base station, which was developed as a space component of the company's 5G MIL Unified Network Solutions program. It was mouthful. Lockheed expects to launch its service in 2024, saying that it will bring 5G capabilities to the final frontier to prove its capability to connect the globe.

>> Alice Carruth: MDA has announced that it's received a contract from an undisclosed customer to start work on a new non-geostationary orbit satellite constellation. The contract is valued at approximately $180 million US, and MDA says that they will immediately commence engineering and programmatic activities, including the procurement of long lead items. According to the press release, the full constellation is valued at a minimum of $750 million US and is expected to include a minimum of 36 MDA software defined digital satellites, for which MDA would be the prime contractor is expected in 2024.

>> Maria Varmazis: And today marks one year of successful missions for the CAPSTONE mission in orbit around the Moon. CAPSTONE stands for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment. Advanced Space is the first company to operate a commercial satellite at the Moon, and the company says that it has gained valuable insights around Cislunar operations that can only come from hands-on experience. Advanced Space says it's undergoing an enhanced mission phase for its primary customer, NASA. CAPSTONE has around 50% of its fuel remaining, and Advanced Space says it's engaging with customers and the community for additional on-orbit experiments to be performed using the existing onboard flight computer and surplus fuel.

>> Alice Carruth: Norway has been taking great leaps in the space sector of late with the opening of its first orbital launch site, and now the country's space agency has purchased telecoms company Telenor's subsidiary Telenor Satellite. The purchase was made by the government-owned space Norway for 2.36 billion Norwegian Krones, which is about $270 million US. The company provides satellites for European, Middle Eastern, and African markets. Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry said that the acquisition ensures that Norway, in a time of increasing geopolitical turmoil, has control over satellites that critical societal functions depend on and that are strategically important to the country.

>> Maria Varmazis: China has launched an ocean monitoring satellite to help improve the understanding of marine waters. The vehicle was developed by the China Academy of Space Technology and transported into orbit by a Long March 2C carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. According to Chinese media, the satellite plans to monitor water color, temperature, sea ice, suspended substances, water, ecological environments and other elements.

>> Alice Carruth: And we've got a great story to end on. Intelsat is partnering with MaxIQ for a STEM program aimed at engaging youth in space across Africa. The program aims to attract high school learners from across the continent to design, build and for certain missions, launch satellites into space and participants get to design a habitat on Mars. Intelsat provides 30 scholarships to the strongest candidates to participate in the program. They receive an Intelsat MaxIQ kit at their home and join live virtual workshops with subject matter experts. The initiative aims to build a STEM workforce pipeline for the growing space industry across Africa. And we'll be speaking to another of MaxIQ's STEM partners on the show from Princeton University on Monday so join us for that chat.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: And that concludes our briefing for today, and you'll find links to further reading in our show notes. And we've included a few extras for you, of course, one's from Forbes on the controversial quantum space drive in orbital test and another's from Amazon confirming the success of the Project Kuiper Protoflight mission. All those stories and more @space.nk2.com.

>> Alice Carruth: 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 Buffy Wajvoda talking about AWS and cybersecurity in space. Check it out while you're walking the dog, preparing for Thanksgiving dinner, or frantically preparing your house for family ahead of their visit, like I am. You don't want to miss it. And another brief programming note for you. It's Maria's birthday on Sunday. Happy birthday, friend.

>> Maria Varmazis: Thanks, Alice. I appreciate that very much. Thank you very much.

[ Music ]

Our guest today is David Logsdon, Senior Director at the Space Enterprise Council. And I started off by asking David to explain what the council does.

>> David Logsdon: So the Space Enterprise Council was formed in 2000. The US Department of Commerce and NASA came to the US Chamber of Commerce and said, we need a commercial voice for space in the Washington DC area. The Space Enterprise Council was born. I came over in 2003 from the Aerospace Industries Association to take over the Space Enterprise Council. Now, the commercial space industry was in its very nascent stages at that time, so wanted to change the focus of the Space Enterprise Council to include the entire space enterprise. So that's commercial, that's civil, national security, and intel. The Space Enterprise Council has been around now for 23 years. I've been running it for 20 years. I've ran it at the US Chamber of Commerce, Trade Association, Tech Trade Association named Tech America, another tech trade association named CompTIA. But we finally found our forever home, and that's the Information Technology Industry Council. To a person, the noted global leader driving innovation policy. The Space Enterprise Council currently has three primary focuses, space and cybersecurity, the role of emerging technology and space. Lastly, international cooperation, international engagement. We were the only space-related US body that started to focus on that particular focus. We did so starting in 2017 with a train mission to Brazil, followed that with a train mission to Brazil and Chile in 2019. We have signed a series of memorandums of understanding, MOUs, with like-minded bodies across the globe to help create a nurturing regulatory, legislative and policy environment for our member companies that want to either scale up business or build business in those particular locales. But it's also a two-way street. We've allowed and nurtured an environment where private sectors in those particular regions, if they want to do business in the United States were a pathway to do so. And we see space as a pointing edge of the 21st century technology spear in a lot of these countries. It's a way to accelerate economic ambitions and efficiencies. So we've been able to get access to leading government officials and we are a trusted voice in a number of different locales.

>> Maria Varmazis: Given that you've been working in this role for 20 years, your perspective on how things have changed must be really fascinating. So could we start with that? I would love to get your thoughts on where things have gone and maybe where things are going.

>> David Logsdon: It's not about space, it's not about technology, it is clearly about data. Ten, 15 years ago, perhaps, we didn't have tablets, smart devices, there weren't smart factories, there weren't smart cities. It's all being driven by the pent-up demand for data. And with the pent-up demand for data, there's a pent-up demand to deliver those data services. And so, the space industry has heard the demand signal for data, both from a domestic perspective and from a global perspective. And that is driving efficiencies and this is driving innovation within our industry.

>> Maria Varmazis: So let's talk a little bit about what maybe policy can do to support stronger cybersecurity protections and maybe regulation. I don't know if that's a bad word, but I would love to get your thoughts on maybe what policy is doing and what you would like to see policy do to shore up protections and bolster the industry.

>> David Logsdon: We got to look at it in four different perspectives. Policy. What policy is out there, but more importantly, what policy recommendations can be implemented in a short-term from a global perspective. That's when we'll see the rubber hit the road. Technology. There isn't a one size fit all technology solution for space and cybersecurity. We need to continue to bring on new solutions, work on current solutions, test and evaluate, and then build that space and cybersecurity solution toolkit, both from a domestic and global perspective. Acquisition. We need to ensure that they're readily available acquisition tools to onboard these solutions in an expedious fashion. Workforce. There isn't a one size fit all for workforce. We need to be able to recruit the best and brightest and retain our current workforce. And I think we have to look at other industries and see what works and implement those best practices. And then mentality, every single one of us that is in the space and cybersecurity industry, whether we know it or not, are cyber employees. We need to have that cyber first mentality. We are getting there. We have a lot of work to do.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, let's -- That's such a great point. What could both the private sector learn from, let's say, civil and national security policy? And flip side, what could maybe government entities learn from the private sector on this front?

>> David Logsdon: Well, I would flip that question and say, what can the space industry learn from other industries in terms of best practices? I'm thinking about the auto industry, both from a domestic and global perspective, what they've already been able to implement in terms of supply chain solutions. A lot of industries are ahead of the space industry in terms of looking at security, secure by design. We tend to look at things in a siloed fashion. We need to cross pollinate. When we cross pollinate, that's when we'll see things move forward.

>> Maria Varmazis: Let's completely switch gears now and talk a little bit about the Global Space Summit and what you'll be speaking about there. Could you tell me a little bit more about that, please?

>> David Logsdon: So last year we held the first ever Global Space Summit. Several countries attended. Fantastic event. That's the feedback that we received. Wanted to build on that success and reached out to one of our partners, Italy, and said, we'd love to partner with you in this year's iteration of a Global Space Summit, which will be held on December 13th. And once again bringing in key government officials, both from a domestic and an international stage. Panel sessions and the panel sessions will focus on the helio economy, cislunar, and then how space innovation is driving the fourth industrial revolution.

>> Maria Varmazis: Where can people find more information about this if they want to register?

>> David Logsdon: You can find information on the ITI website. If you are interested in getting more information on the global space summit, please reach out to me at ITI. My email address is dlogsdon, L-O-G-S-D-O-N, @itic.org.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back. Welcome back. And we know we missed a major milestone on yesterday's show, so let's make up for it today, shall we? On November 15, 2022, NASA launched the Artemis 1 mission, marking the return of lunar exploration for the US space agency. It was the first integrated flight test of the Orion spacecraft and the controversial Space Launch System, or the SLS rocket. The mission's main objective was to test the Orion spacecraft, especially its heat shield, ahead of subsequent Artemis missions. And these missions seek to reestablish a human presence on the moon and demonstrate technologies and business approaches needed for future scientific studies, including the exploration of Mars. Yeah, it was a bit of a where were you when this happened moment for all of us space nerds.

>> Alice Carruth: I'll be honest, I slept through it, but I did watch it online the next day. Oh, my gosh.

>> Maria Varmazis: I've -- I -- My husband and I stayed up to watch it. It was like two in the -- 1:45 in the morning, Eastern time, and it -- we were super tired, but we still were like, yeah --

>> Alice Carruth: It was worth it.

>> Maria Varmazis: We watched it on TV. It was so great. It was such a great moment. I think I cried a little bit to be honest with you. And it looks like it's going to be at least another year until we see the Artemis 2 mission, which will be taking humans back to the moon. Although they're not going to be landing for the first time since 1972.

>> Alice Carruth: Yeah, that was Harrison Schmitt's mission. Did you know that he's from New Mexico?

>> Maria Varmazis: I feel like you've told me that before many times, but that's still [inaudible]. Justifiably proud honestly. Those of us that were born after the Apollo era, that's you and me, Alice, are eagerly awaiting the next human spaceflight outside of LEO. And honestly, we're counting down, yeah, T-Minus style until the next four astronauts get to experience space from our nearest natural satellite. Super cool.

[ Music ]

>> Alice Carruth: That's it for T-Minus for November the 17th, 2023. For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes @space.n2k.com. We'd love to know what you think of this podcast. No, really, we really do want to know. 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 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 Carruth, mixing by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliot Peltzman. Our executive producer is Brandon Carp. And I'm Maria Varmazis. Thanks for listening. Have a wonderful weekend.

>> Alice Carruth: You too, Maria. Happy birthday.

>> Maria Varmazis: Thanks. Thanks, dear.

[ Music ]

Similar posts

Stay in the loop on new releases. 

Subscribe below to receive information about new blog posts, podcasts, newsletters, and product information.