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Europe’s flush with funds.

D-Orbit raises over $100M in new funding and Sateliot raises €6M. ESA launches an environment monitoring platform. AX3 is ready for launch. And more.




Italian space logistics startup D-Orbit has raised more than $109 million in a funding round led by Japan's Marubeni. Spain-based Sateliot has secured €6 million Euros in new funding from Banco Santander. The European Space Agency says its EO4Security platform to fight environmental crime and monitor illegal activities from space, is fully operational, and more. 

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Meteorologist Meredith Garofalo.

You can connect with Meredith on LinkedIn and learn more about Foundations for the Future on their website and join their event here.

Selected Reading

Banco Santander funds Sateliot with 6 million through its high growth enterprise program

ESA Director General’s Annual Press Briefing

New ESA Environmental Security Project Goes Live - Via Satellite

Axiom Space Flight Readiness Review Complete, Ax-3 Proceeds to Next Mission Milestone

China to launch 26,000 satellites, vying with U.S. for space power - Nikkei Asia

NASA Funds Laser Communications Tech with Small Business

NASA Selects Crew for Next Simulated Mars Mission

SpaceX and T-Mobile send first texts via Starlink satellites

Hicks: U.S. Aims to Prevent Conflict in Space, Other Domains Through Deterrence

Space Business: Payload problems

Enabling a space circular economy by 2050 


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Yesterday we had some encouraging news in the space sector coming out of India and today we're seeing some more bright numbers coming out of the European space sector. While there is, of course, a very justified amount of attention on what's happening in space in the United States and in China, it bears repeating that space is increasingly global and a lot of big moves are happening outside of the usual suspects. 


Today is January 11, 2024. I’m Maria Varmazis. And this is T-Minus.

D-Orbit raises over $100 million dollars and Sateliot raises €6 million Euros. ESA launches an environment monitoring platform. AX3 is ready for launch.

And our guest today is Meteorologist Meredith Garofalo on her involvement in space communications and hosting events for Foundation for the Future, stay with us for the second half of the show.

Raise a glass of prosecco to in-space logistics services company D-Orbit of Italy. They announced today that they raised 100 million euro in a Series C funding round, led by Marubeni of Japan. This new funding follows triple-digit year over year revenue growth since 2021 and will help them to boost their space logistics offerings, including space debris clean-up capabilities and in-orbit satellite servicing. In their press release, D-Orbit also mentioned that this funding round will help them expand their operational capabilities across the US, Europe and the UK. 

Spain-based Sateliot has secured €6 million Euros in new funding from Banco Santander. Sateliot is launching the first constellation of low-earth orbit nanosatellites providing 5G coverage for Internet of Things or IoT. With this new capital, Sateliot aims to accelerate the development of its technology and the deployment of its satellite constellation. The company says it is poised for significant growth with the launch of four new satellites in 2024, marking the beginning of its commercial phase.

The European Space Agency’s Director General Josef Aschbacher shared this year's key milestones for European Space from ESA headquarters in Paris. Aschbacher says Europe will regain its autonomous access to space this year, with the inaugural flight of the heavy-lift launcher Ariane 6 from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. He says we should excerpt to hear more about Hera, the planetary defense mission which will be launched at the end of 2024 and EarthCARE, ESA’s Earth observation mission studying the role that clouds and aerosols play in reflecting solar radiation. 

And staying with ESA, a project to fight environmental crime and monitor illegal activities is now fully operational. EO4Security is dedicated to developing algorithms and application platforms designed to provide tools capable of delivering timely geoinformation on noncompliance with environmental regulations, such as illegal mining and irregular trafficking. e-GEOS, a joint venture between ASI and Telespazio, and part of Leonardo Group, and the primary contractor on the project, announced the project had gone live, on January 9. You can read more about it in the Via Satellite article linked in our show notes.

Axiom Space held a press conference today with the four European Astronauts that are part of the AX3 crew planned for launch next Wednesday. Axiom Space has successfully completed its internal Flight Readiness Review for the mission moving the crew one step closer to their January 17 launch. The review evaluated company and crew readiness in support of the first all-European commercial astronaut mission to the International Space Station. The crew say that they are all very excited with the Turkish crew mate Alper Gezeravcı (Ahl-pehr Geh-zeh-rahv-juh), talking about how proud he is to be the first to fly to space from Turkey.

China has started  building its own satellite internet constellation using low Earth orbit, with plans of launching some 26,000 satellites to cover the entire world led by state-run companies. The construction of a commercial spacecraft launch site for China's version of StarLink is underway near the Wenchang Space Launch Site in the southern province of Hainan. China Satellite Network will launch about 1,300 satellites, or 10% of the planned number, starting in the first half of 2024 through 2029, according to Chinese media. This is hoped to pave the way for liftoff by 2035 to establish a network supporting high-speed 6G communications.

The latest update from Astrobotic on its Peregrine lunar lander is positive. The team say that they have been able to gather payload data, receiving data from all 9 payloads designed to communicate with the lander. All 10 payloads requiring power have received it, while the remaining 10 payloads aboard the spacecraft are passive. These payloads have now been able to prove operational capability in space and payload teams are analyzing the impact of this development. 

NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation- known as SCaN- Program has funded the successful development of a new piece of laser technology. Through a small business collaboration, Fibertek Inc., has developed the Basestation Optical Laser Terminal, a four-channel laser unit that could enable the transmission of high-power communications to the Moon during the Artemis II flight test. Known as the Orion Artemis II Optical Communications System, the Artemis II demonstration will use laser communications to transmit high-resolution images and video of the lunar region to two ground stations. That demonstration will fly with the crew no earlier than September 2025.

Staying with the US Space Agency, they have selected a crew of four volunteers to participate in a simulated journey to Mars inside a habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The crew will enter the ground-based Human Exploration Research Analog facility known as HERA, on January 26, to live and work like astronauts for 45 days during the simulated mission to the Red Planet. Crew members will exit the facility on March 11, after they “return” to Earth. Two additional volunteers are available as backup crew members.

SpaceX has successfully demonstrated the first text message sent via Starlink satellites using T-Mobile’s network. The direct-to-cell satellites were launched to LEO last week by a SpaceX Falcon 9. The company said it performed the texting demonstration on Monday and declared the test "validates" that "the system works."

<Selected reading articles only>

That concludes our intel briefing for today. Please check out the selected reading section in our show notes to find further reading on all the stories that we have mentioned. We also like to add a few extra stories for you as well. Today we have an opinion piece on preventing conflict in space, a follow up on the payloads on the ULA launch and a blog on enabling a circular economy in space by 2050.


<Thursday Programming Note w/o Industry Voice> Hey T-Minus Crew, if your business is looking to grow your voice in the industry, expand the reach of your thought leadership, or recruit talent, T-Minus can help. We’d like to hear from you. Send us an email at space@n2k.com or send us a note through our website so we can connect about building a program to meet your goals. And it’s international thank you day so thank you for being part of our crew.

<Guest intro and segment>

My guest today is Meteorologist Meredith Garofalo. I wanted to know more about Meredith’s background and how she got involved in space communications.

MEREDITH:  If you know me in the space business, you might have heard me referred to as Rocket Girl. Um, I am a award winning broadcast meteorologist, uh, and space and science correspondent. So what that means is my degree is in meteorology. I have a bachelor of science.

I've been Forecasting the weather for the local and national news for the last 15 years of my career, and I'm also a reporter and a journalist. And so I've done stories on big space events, big science events. I've interviewed some of the heads of the space and science communities. I've covered rocket launches.

I've done a lot of really good stories on our satellite programs to help people better understand what's going on. Because a lot of people really don't know what's going on with the space program, and you just think,  rocket launches, you think a lot about astronauts, but there's so much more.

There's experiments going on in space, we're working on building space colonies, and so I've really dedicated my career to transition from just being a meteorologist and doing the weather to also being a great storyteller and a communicator and using my on air background as a privilege to, you know, help get these really important stories out there. 

MARIA: I'm so glad you've done that because the need is so great.  We need. Storytellers, talented storytellers like yourself doing that work. So you have that meteorology background and meteorology on its own is a fascinating science, but combining meteorology and space is like extra cool  So Can you tell me a little bit about that combination? The two of them together is just so neat. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

MEREDITH: I think what's really cool is I went into this field. I was three when I decided I wanted to be a meteorologist. My mom survived a tornado outbreak. And so here's a little Meredith like, Oh my gosh, I want to save lives. I want to help warn people.

And I was always the non shy kid, like family videos, front and center singing and dancing. So I knew I had that presence where I could go on. TV and be comfortable and get in front of big crowds  so the more and more I got into my career, um, I enjoyed reporting a lot. And then I covered a story in 2017  on how our weather satellites.

Our new generation of the GOES satellite program was going into space, and not a lot of people are talking about it. And I don't think a lot of people realize that now we rely on this data, not just like Doppler radar when we show it to you and we're covering a tornado warning, but we need the, the big picture stuff from these satellites to help show what's going on above so we can work with what we have.

As we call now, casting going on right now, close to home, but seeing the overall big picture, and when these storms are moving in, we can help make the decisions and, and guide people like first responders to make the right decisions to help save lives. And so I did a story on it. And something almost like the space bug  exploded inside of me, and I just wanted to learn more about other things in space.

So I started doing more stories with NASA, and I started talking to stories with NOAA in the Space Weather Prediction Center to talk about how solar storms impact us here on Earth. And then I just started to get more and more well known as this on camera meteorologist that can communicate science. But also can communicate space in a way that people can understand and your five year old can understand what I'm saying as well as your 90 year old grandmother.

So I found it is kind of my niche and my new direction to take my career. And so since 2017, I've just seriously dedicated my, uh, my time to going and speaking. I'm also a big, um, moderator and panelist for a lot of the big space conferences now. Because people are trusting me with my science background and my storytelling ability.

To come into the space community and say, Hey, you know, I'm a public figure. I'm a TV personality, but I love space too. And I want to help out in any way that I can, 

MARIA: I love that you said that. And when I speak to expert communicators like yourself, I would love to know your perspective on why has space had such a hard time communicating to the broader public about why it's so crucial and important? What's been missing there? 

MEREDITH: you know, I think  we need to focus on more than just The rocket launches just SpaceX did this or NASA did that.

We need to start telling stories like we tell stories on the news that these scientists are in space and they're working on a cure for cancer. So somebody at home, like I lost my father to cancer in 2022.  I can feel that connection. Oh, thank you. But I can feel that connection because it's something that's real.

It's not sci fi It's not watching a movie and I get it. We like to watch movies. We like to read books Fantasy is fun but at the same time A lot of it is starting to turn into reality and we need to make sure we're getting the right facts out there and sometimes I feel like The only thing that's getting pushed in front of public in the news is stuff that's going to grab headlines or stuff that's going to be like, oh my gosh, you know, and dramatic and all this stuff.

But we need to stick to the facts, just like a good journalist knows how to tell a good story using the facts and telling both sides. I think we need that same approach to storytelling, whether it's private sector or whether it's coming from the government. 

MARIA: That's such a great point. I'm curious to get your perspective also on when speaking to the greater public about what we, I guess, in the space bubble, so to speak, would consider, oh, great learning from maybe a mission that didn't go the way we thought it would, if something just went a little sideways or, it didn't hit its goals.

A lot of times we'll hear how that's covered more mainstream as it's a total failure, and then the public opinion will be, well, why are we spending this money? Which is, becomes a compounding issue. Any thoughts on how we can do better to talk about those things and maybe different ways we should be covering that? 

MEREDITH: Well, you need the right people in these jobs that are going to stand up and say, you're not telling that story, right? I mean, you need people that if you're going to be the lead space correspondent for a network, that person has a responsibility to make sure they're doing everything they can to tell both sides and not get into the political bubble or the popularity bubble.

And I run into that problem where I've had to go to a news director and say, this is a great story. And yes, it's a national story, but it impacts our viewers close to home. And they'll be like, eh. Did something explode? Is something major happening? Is it first of something? No, it's not. We're going to move on.

It's like, we need to get away from that mentality. And we need the communicators also in these companies. You know, like I said, whether it's the government, whether it's the private sector, you know, these companies need people like myself to come in there. As communicators and say,  how can we take the story and tell everything that we can to get out the correct information, but also to captivate the public to want to know more. And I think we need to remember we're all humans.  Just like, think about when we're babies and we're trying to walk and we fall down and we're crying and screaming and our mom didn't just say, Oh, it's a failure.

My kid's never going to walk, right? They stand us back up.

MARIA: you imagine?

MEREDITH: give us a sucker. I know, right? We'd all be still sitting on the ground crying and eating suckers. But I mean, it's just, it's common sense. And I think sometimes we just forget the basics. And sometimes we just need to  not be afraid to have a voice and an opinion and not in a way where we have an opinion where it's, You listen to me, it's this way or that way.

It's, hey, here's the facts, and you can decide what you want from what I'm giving you, but I'm going to make sure to give you the most factual information. But you have to remember, at the end of the day, we're still learning, and if we look back in history, just like the industrial era Look where we're at now, because of all the failures and all the things we had to go through then.

This is just another chapter of history, and we're writing it, so we need to be excited about that. 

MARIA: What an amazing call to action. I just kind of want to let that for me sinking, because that's such a great, what a wonderful message. Thank you for that. . Um, I wanted to switch topics and talk about your upcoming event.  I wanted to give you an opportunity to tell our audience more about that, because it sounds really cool.

MEREDITH: Well, not a lot of people know about this, and this is so cool, whether you are in the space community or you're a space enthusiast, there's an organization, it's a non profit called Foundation for the Future, and they are working to bring All different types of space companies, whether it's, like I said, the public sector, the private sector, the government, and bring a lot of these topics that are everyday topics that we have here on Earth, but about topics in space, such as investing, or lunar habitats, or research in space, and bring experts from the field together to help get those facts out there and present this and also get legislation passed in Congress and things to brought to the public's attention.

So what they started was an event called Conversations for the Future. And a few years back, I was invited as a guest speaker. They did a whole media panel, but it was cool because it was almost like a live podcast for a few hours. Like this is coming after the era of COVID. So people were coming together.

They were watching a two hour. Event where you'd have speakers every half an hour come in and it's free, which is the best part. Well over the years Um, we started to get a lot more interest and me being my background in hosting I was asked to become one of their regular hosts think of a show like The View, but we're not going to be crazy like The View and all that drama, but it's like going to be four space minded people from different backgrounds, sitting down together and hosting a conversation that people can join for free from all over the world about topics every month.

Such as this month, we're doing the wrong stuff, things that you need to know to have to go back from fiction. So we're going to talk about things such as, you know, well, people are talking about this, but really that's not what should be presented. Here are the facts, or we're going to have fun things like surprise guests.

It's a big space names, whether it's maybe celebrities coming on our show. It's going to be something that's for everybody, but also to show that space is for everybody. 

MARIA: Meredith, where can people find out more about your upcoming appearance on the show? It sounds great.

MEREDITH: If you go to anything with Foundation for the Future,  you can sign up. It's free. And the nice thing is, you know, if you want to just come for a little bit, you want to come for the whole hour.

The thing is, if you sign up, you can get on our website, which has all the different speaker bios. So you can learn more about us. You can kind of learn more about the mission and, uh, like we're, we're calling it our liftoff, you know, like come to the launch pad and join us for this big liftoff for 2024.

MARIA>And we have links to the event Meredith mentioned in our show notes. We’ll be right back

Welcome back

<Kicker, Fun Fact or B-Roll>

If you, like me, see the glaring need for more robust, effective and creative science communication to the general republic... this item may be of interest.

Science comics, from social media comics posts to graphic novels, are a big part of a contemporary effort to explain science concepts in a way that's really appealing to a broad audience. And Professor Caroline Hu at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, who also has a PhD in biology from Stanford University herself I should note, is heading up a Science Communication & Comics course this semester at MassArt. And Professor Hu is looking for scientist collaborators that she can pair up with her artist students. 

Basically you, the scientist, just need to serve as a subject matter expert in your field, and a science comics artist will work with you to turn your idea into a 4 page educational comic. Sounds super cool if you ask me. 

There's a link in our show notes if you are interested in learning more about this collab. The deadline to sign up is February 1. Grad students, post-docs, faculty and staff actively engaged in scientific research in any and all scientific fields are welcome to join in. And I happen to know Professor Hu personally and the scuttlebutt is that astro and aero sciences are very underrepresented in the respondents she has received so far, so don't be shy T-Minus didacts! Feb 1 is your deadline! Get to it. 


<Credits (T/R)>That's it for T-Minus for January 11th, 2024. 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 Tré 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.

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