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Delays, deals and sanctions.

Artemis III is likely to slip to 2027. Angola signs the Artemis Accords. US and allies sanction North Korea following their first satellite launch. And more.




The US Government Accountability Office says that Artemis III’s launch is likely to slip to 2027. Angola becomes the latest nation to sign the Artemis Accords. The US and foreign partners hit North Korea’s Kimsuky Cyberespionage Unit with new sanctions following the latest rocket launch by Pyongyang, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Allen Herbert, Advocate for Commercial Space Agrifood R&D and Production.

Selected Reading

NASA Artemis Programs: Crewed Moon Landing Faces Multiple Challenges- U.S. GAO

FACT SHEET: The U.S. – Angola Partnership- The White House

US Sanctions North Korean Cyber Unit After Satellite Launch

Arcfield Acquires Orion Space Solutions

Hastings Law Office, P.C.: Federal Jury Finds Aerojet Rocketdyne Breached Two Non-Disclosure Agreements with ValveTech Inc. Concerning Components for Starliner CST-100 Spacecraft

MUOS SATCOM System Completes Successful Demonstration in Canada- Space Systems Command

Ireland set to launch first satellite into space 

POLARIS successfully tests spaceplane engine - SpaceWatch.Global

The Kármán Line: Where does space begin?

Scientists Discover a Stunning River of Stars Flowing Through Space : ScienceAlert

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>> Maria Varmazis: It's been 51 years this month since NASA's last human spaceflight to the Moon and a lot has changed since then, but one thing remains the same: Spaceflight is hard, y'all. Artemis 2 is planned for November 2024 to send humans around the Moon, but not to land on the surface. That accolade will be given to the astronauts on Artemis 3.

But when will we see boots on the ground? Oh, it may be longer than we'd like to admit. Okay, before we get into the news briefing, Alice, you said you have another terrible joke for me?

>> Alice Carruth: Terrible? I take that personally. Okay, this one's Kirsty, my 11-year-old. What currency do they use in space?

>> Maria Varmazis: I have no idea.

>> Alice Carruth: Starbucks.

>> Maria Varmazis: That is a groaner. That's an absolute groaner.

>> Alice Carruth: It is, isn't it, right?

>> Maria Varmazis: Oh my gosh.

>> Alice Carruth: I love that she gathered that for me.

>> Maria Varmazis: That, yeah, well, kudos to her. That's a groaner for sure.

[ Music ]

Today is December 1, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis.

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

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: Artemis 3 is likely to slip to 2027. Angola signs the Artemis Accords. US and allies sanction North Korea following their first satellite launch.

>> Alice Carruth: And our guest today is Allen Herbert, advocate for Commercial Space Agrifood R&D and Production. Stay with us for Maria's chat with him about space and food in the second part of the show.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: Happy December, everybody. On to today's intel briefing. Now, this one's not going to surprise many of you, but it is noteworthy. The US Government Accountability Office or GAO published a report yesterday about Artemis 3's landing on the Moon in 2025.

What was the current pace of starship flight tests and all? Yeah, that 2025 year is not really realistic, is it? That 2025 schedule, to be specific, the GAO says is, quote, "ambitious." It's much more realistic that the United States' return to the surface of the Moon will be in early 2027.

Now, that's not NASA saying this. That's the GAO saying what a lot of us have been thinking. And as far as NASA is concerned, right now, 2025 is still the schedule. But given this new report, NASA is officially reviewing the schedule for the lunar lander, so stay tuned on that front. But yes, there is still a lot of work to be done before SpaceX's Starship is ready for orbital space, let alone a human lunar landing.

So in this case, the GAO is just saying the quiet part out loud. And to be fair, it's not just the ride to the moon. It's also the spacesuit that Axiom is building that needs more development time as well, says the new GAO report.

So overall, yes, for the United States' ambition to put humans on the moon again, hopes are one thing, and reality is another. Lots more work to be done. And as with so many things in space, expect those timelines to move to the right.

>> Alice Carruth: Yeah, delays in space, who'd have thought?

>> Maria Varmazis: Right?

>> Alice Carruth: In another under-the-radar signing, the latest White House factsheet has slipped in that Angola signed the Artemis Accords. The statement was hidden at the bottom of the briefing room release on the US-Angola partnership after the presidents from both nations held a meeting in DC.

The statement says that the signing advances a common vision of space exploration for the benefit of all humankind. The Angolan president's visit to the US follows the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's visit to the African nation, which launched the creation of a joint high-level defense dialogue scheduled for early 2020.

The leaders identified future engagement potential in several areas, including capacity building for maritime security, space, and cyber defense.

>> Maria Varmazis: In a move that will come as no surprise to savvy followers of international relations, the US and its allies have hit North Korea's Kimsuky cyber espionage unit, or hacker group, with new sanctions. And while that headline seems completely unrelated to space, the reason behind the new sanctions is the latest rocket launch by Pyongyang.

That launch took the first reconnaissance satellite into orbit for North Korea, and Pyongyang state-run media claims that the Malligyong-1 satellite was used to take detailed photos of The White House, the Pentagon, and nearby military bases. No surprise then that the US has slapped another round of restrictions on them, really.

>> Alice Carruth: No, not really. Government tech company Arcfield has acquired Orion Space Solutions, a Colorado-based developer of end-to-end space mission capabilities and solutions. According to the press release, the acquisition of Orion enhances Arcfield's space exploration and hypersonic detection and tracking capabilities for agencies in the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community.

Arcfield says that this new venture will bring expertise in sensor and payload design, SmallSat and CubeSat spacecraft integration and manufacturing, and space mission operations and data analysis to the company.

>> Maria Varmazis: A district court in New York has found Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris technologies company, breached two non-disclosure agreements with Valv-Tech, Incorporated and improperly retained and used or disclosed proprietary information provided by Valv-Tech for the Starliner CST-100 spacecraft.

Valv-Tech filed a lawsuit in 2017, alleging that Aerojet intentionally and improperly retained and used the company's proprietary information in the development of Aerojet's flight valve for the service module propulsion system for the Boeing Starliner CST-100 spacecraft.

Aerojet is accused of terminating its contract with Valv-Tech after obtaining all of its designs and test data. Valv-Tech supplies 14 other valve components to various vendors for the Starliner CST-100 spacecraft.

>> Alice Carruth: The US Navy and Space Force have partnered with Canada's Department of National Defense on assessing the Mobile User Objective System, known as MUOS, narrowband global SATCOM system. Canada is the first international partner to use the system.

MUOS is the US DOD's advanced UHF SATCOM system, and it is designed to provide joint warfighters with reliable worldwide voice and data communications in challenging weather environments and through thick foliage.

The US military says that MUOS offers significant improvements over legacy systems, including a tenfold increase in overall communications capacity, reduced signal interference, and improved connectivity performance.

The MUOS Integration Lab lead says that Canada's ability to close communication links on Canadian soil using Canadian procured radio terminals through a Space Force UHF narrowband military satellite system is a tremendous achievement.

>> Maria Varmazis: Ireland has launched its first domestically produced satellite onboard this morning's Falcon 9 launch from California. The University College Dublin have been working on their EIRSAT-1 satellite for more than six years.

Once operational, the satellite will begin to hunt gamma rays, which can be caused by stars exploding at the end of their lives or black holes or neutron stars merging together to form the explosions. The vehicle is also testing a surface coating and a new technology developed to manage the satellite's orientation.

>> Alice Carruth: German spaceplane company Polaris held the first static fire test of their AS-1 engine. Polaris held the test at an airfield in northern Germany. The company is aiming to develop a reusable space launch and hypersonic transport system that will operate like an aircraft. The AS-1 engine will be carried on the demonstrator flight mirror after completion of the ground test program.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: And that concludes our briefing roundup for today. You'll find links to further reading on all the headlines we've mentioned, and Alice has thrown in a great piece on the Kármán line, everyone's favorite. Where does space begin?

>> Alice Carruth: That's bound to provide plenty of fodder to keep you entertained at your next visit to the pub. And 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 Allen Herbert on talking about two of our favorite topics: space and food. Check it out while you're driving to the mall for holiday shopping, debating if you should take your kids to the local tree lighting, or traveling across the country like I will be doing on Sunday. N2K HQ, here I come. But seriously, you don't want to miss it.

[ Music ]

>> Maria Varmazis: Our guest today is Allen Herbert, advocate for Space Agrifood R&D and Production. And I started our conversation by asking Allen to explain about the work he does.

>> Allen Herbert: What I look at right now is I look at how to work with companies so they can become more commercial dealing with food and space that companies or organization or people that normally don't deal with space. I think we all, in a space community, need to know we're seeing it, but it still has a government part of it.

But agriculture and food, agriculture is commercial around the world, no matter what. Food production is commercial. Food delivery is commercial. Food research is commercial. Agriculture research is commercial. Everything dealing with food on Earth, mostly, unless in some other countries, is commercial.

And what we have right now, the government's doing a lot of the research, universities, on agrifood production in space, but the bottom line, it's going to be commercial.

And I have a new company called Space Terra Solutions. It's based here in Las Vegas, in Nevada. We harness space technology for sustainable agricultural growth and production on Earth and in space. But commercially, we look at how because one of the things is, you know, if the government is not supporting it, which the government should, is we got to look at how we can make it sustainable commercially, and that's what I look at too.

And so we look at a diverse range of things. I call my 10 impact areas of, one, waste reutilization, which can be -- I call it dual purpose -- can be used in Earth and space, water reutilization, energy efficiency, utilization of AI, lighting, which is very important, robotic, feed development and nutrition, the different types of growth medium, 3D-printed lab, grow food wellness. And then we also look at the culinary arts. One of our clients, she is an ice cream scientist.

>> Maria Varmazis: Oh my god, best job ever.

>> Allen Herbert: I'm telling you. She's looking at how, you know, how do we utilize ice cream in space? How do we make it in space? How do we do desserts in space? All of these things are important.

>> Maria Varmazis: You speaking my language.

>> Allen Herbert: Okay? So all these things are so important. And so she, I mean, she's been all over the world, everywhere. And that's one of our clients, so now she's looking at how she can -- she wants to do an experiment in space on -- and how ice cream melts. What's the best type to -- I mean, it is just amazing what she's looking at.

>> Maria Varmazis: Way beyond freeze-dried cubes that we --

>> Allen Herbert: That's not really astronaut, no.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

>> Allen Herbert: But she's looking at how when you grow strawberries, you can grow strawberries in space. How do you turn up into ice cream and space in microgravity? I mean, it's just so much, you know, Maria.

>> Maria Varmazis: It's funny.

>> Allen Herbert: There's so many things that we have to look at, if we're on the Moon. All these things have to be commercial. So that's what we do. That's what I do now.

>> Maria Varmazis: Well, that's amazing. And it sounds like the application is also like not just in space, but also I've hear a lot of things that have application on Earth too.

>> Allen Herbert: That's it.

>> Maria Varmazis: Like making, yeah, and can you talk a little bit more about that too? Because, I mean, maybe it's my personal angle. I am always fascinated by what we're going to be doing in space, but I'm -- to me, what we're doing on Earth is more immediate, I suppose, less abstract to me. Yeah.

>> Allen Herbert: Okay, let's look at this: water utilization. Okay? The water gets reused over and over and over again, even in the International Space Station. When we're on the Moon, Mars, wherever we are, we're going to have to reutilize that.

I live in Nevada. They have a water problem, so we have to look at that technology for water reutilization. In Abu Dhabi, Dubai, in desert regions, they have to look at water reutilization. We waste so much water here.

So that same technology -- this what I always look at, Maria -- could be used on Earth and in space. And already, some of the ISS technology the using to reutilize water in other countries and things like that.

Then waste reutilization, that's my passion. Okay? I'm one of these people when you go to a restaurant, I got to eat everything, or I got to take it with me. In space, you can't waste, oh, I'll throw this in the garbage. I'm going to do this. No, that food that you leave, or whatever you do, even the packaging has to be reutilized. So that same technology could be used here.

One of the things I was going to talk about later is that I try to live like I live in -- as an astro farmer, astro chef, whatever, as if I live in space. One, most people in space will be -- will have to be plant based or land based, but really a lot of plant based where to grow it. But I look at what -- how I, when I go somewhere, how do I reutilize the food? I have a whole little garden I'm growing using composting. We can start being -- living like we would have to live in space because, in space, everything is, no joke, has to be reused.

Then also energy efficiency. What are the issues with closed environment agriculture, even on Earth, is there's a lot of energy that needs to be for their whole closed environment. So on space, you have to really be energy efficiency, AI utilizing AI for robotics, for the environment, for the nutrition. AI could be used in all kinds of things on Earth and space.

Lighting is huge and on Earth because you have to have efficient lighting, and it has to -- there's different type of lighting to grow the food a different type of way. Could be used on Earth and space, robotics, of course, because astronauts can't do all that, so you have to make it mechanized.

>> Maria Varmazis: Of course, yeah, yep.

>> Allen Herbert: Seed development and nutrition, I was involved in where we sent seeds up into space, and they see how they react in space. They brought it back to Earth. So that's a lot of people are looking at that.

>> Maria Varmazis: The mutations, right, yeah.

>> Allen Herbert: Yeah. The wellness. I mean, there's so many things, even with the mutations that are sent up into space, it has to be able to deal with a harsh environment. But now they're using those seeds here on Earth to grow in harsh environments, and the Chinese have been really, really leaders in that, and even the United Nations is starting to look at that.

And so they could use them in -- as climate changes is wrecking havoc, especially in harsh environments like deserts in Africa or around the world, they're looking at ways how can we make these seeds strong to be able to stand up to harsh environments?

>> Maria Varmazis: I was going to say, what kind of mutations are they seeing once the seeds go to space? Is it that they are more able to withstand temperature swings?

>> Allen Herbert: Yes. That's it.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, yeah.

>> Allen Herbert: Exactly.

>> Maria Varmazis: I garden.

>> Allen Herbert: I mean, there's a whole scientific thing about it, but, bottom line, it makes them stronger to deal with Earth. Just like you know those science fiction where the guy goes up, gets blasted, and then comes back as Superman, you know?

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah.

>> Allen Herbert: So it's almost the same. The Chinese are good at that. So in an unscientific way, yes, the seeds come down, and they're able to deal with a harsh environment because they've been exposed, basically. And so the other thing is wellness.

They say the astronauts when they do the gardening on the space station, it helps them deal -- because they see stuff growing, and it helps them deal with certain things and being up there. They're seeing -- they're watching some growth, something grow. It's not dead, you know? Like it's because space is just whoo. And so that's what I see.

What I see in the future, Maria, is that when you go on your trip to the Moon, on vacation, or as a journalist, or you're going to be interviewing people, why do you live here? What's going on here? When you go out to eat, I want to see that it's a commercial company that is growing the food, that is getting the water, and even maybe another commercial company that's putting the food together for you to eat. I see it as commercial and not government. And because I think, even as time goes on, the commercial entities are going to really take over, and do --

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah.

>> Allen Herbert: They're already doing that already.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, that's true.

>> Allen Herbert: You can see that now.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, yeah, yup.

>> Allen Herbert: But I see it more in a little niche here into the food production and things like that.

[ Music ]

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

[ Music ]

Welcome back, and zero surprise here, we love to nerd out about astronomy here at T-Minus. We love all things space, but there is something about stargazing that really takes it to the next level.

So imagine, if you will, the headline Scientists Discover a River of Stars and the squeals of delight during our morning meeting today. We have discussed whether our morning chat should be recorded, but I've decided that, for now, we want to continue with the appearance that we are professionals and not just space fan girls, although I think we've done away with that just now, haven't we, Alice?

>> Alice Carruth: Yes.

>> Maria Varmazis: Anyway, the river of stars. What is that? Well, okay, it's known as a stellar stream, and we're not talking about the Milky Way. The one in this article, which we've of course included for you in the show notes, is at a length of 1.7 million light years, and is newly named the Giant Coma Stream.

It is the longest that astronomers have ever seen, and that's not all. The faint river is the first of its kind ever seen outside of a galaxy. Of course, the new discovery has opened a whole can of worms for the research field.

How did this happen? A stellar stream is not expected to survive long, but it's hoped that by studying the environment that it's in, it'll give us some clues as to the stream's origins.

>> Alice Carruth: And can we also note that researchers have called it a gravitationally chaotic environment? Sounds a lot like my house when my kids come home from school.

[ Music ]

That's it for T-Minus for the 1 of December 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 that we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in the rapidly changing space industry.

We're privileged that N2K and podcasts at 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 key 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 Elliott Peltzman and Tre Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliott Peltzman. Our executive producer is Jen Eiben. Our VP is Brandon Karpf, and I'm Maria Varmazis. Thanks for listening. Have a great weekend.

[ Music ]

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