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SDA Tranche 2 awards for L3Harris, Lockheed and Sierra.

$2.5B from SDA for L3Harris, Lockheed and Sierra. The US Space Force gets a bit more flexible. Artemis is scrutinized by a US Subcommittee. And more.




The Space Development Agency announces $2.5 billion in contracts split between L3Harris, Lockheed Martin and Sierra Space. The US Space Force will become the nation’s first military service that allows troops to switch between full-time and part-time work without formally transferring to a Reserve component or the National Guard. The US Federal Government holds a Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Hearing on returning to the Moon and keeping NASA on track, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Geology and Astronomy student at The College Of Charleston Honors, Tyler Glymph.

Selected Reading

SDA Awards $2.5B in Tranche 2 Tracking Layer Prototype Agreements to 3 Companies- GovCon Wire

Congress approves Space Force part-timers, but still no Space Guard

Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Hearing - Returning to the Moon: Keeping Artemis on Track

NASA Administrator Names New Head of Space Technology

Mage Networks Signs Memorandum of Understanding for Telesat Lightspeed Services

Spaceium Partners Space Machines for Space Cryogenic Refuelling

Water on the Moon: international prize launches for purifying lunar water - GOV.UK

Spacelog: What's the 'new arrival' on the Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft?

Oman unveils plans to set up Middle East’s first spaceport | Oman – Gulf News

Berkeley SkyDeck and Berkeley Space Center Join Forces for Air and Space Accelerator Track- Business Wire

Axiom and SpaceX are disrupting Europe’s traditional pathway to space- Ars Technica

In US-China space race, success depends on lunar landings and orbital ‘parking spots’

Meet Helios, a new class of space tug with some real muscle- Ars Technica

JWST Reveals Young Star Beta Pictoris Has a Surprising Second Disk : ScienceAlert

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[MUSIC] Government contracts were a positive standout in 2023 space industry deals.

Something that a lot of industry watchers say is definitely gonna continue this year.

And true enough, news of a big US government contract landed late yesterday, worth a combined $2.5 billion from the space development agency.

And thanks to that deal, we now have a new prime contractor on the scene.

Everybody, welcome Sierra to the primes.

[MUSIC] Today is January 17th, 2024.

I'm Maria Varmausis, and this is T-minus.

[MUSIC] $2.5 billion from SDA for L3Harris, Lockheed, and Sierra.

Space Force gets a bit more flexible.

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology takes a closer look at Artemis.

And for some fresh perspective on workforce and development, we're talking to a student with ambitions for the space industry about what he's experiencing.

Our guest today is geology and astronomy student Tyler Glympf.

And I spoke to Tyler about how we can support students in transitioning from academia to the workforce.

Stay with us for that chat.

[MUSIC] And here's our Intel briefing for today.

The space development agency or SDA yesterday announced a $2.5 billion total award, which is split between three contractors.

The firm fixed priced OTA agreements are with L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, and Sierra Space to build 54 satellites in all for SDA's Tronche II tracking layer constellation with expected launches no later than April 2027.

Each contractor will be responsible for building 18 satellites, and the contract will also include ground segment buildouts as well.

The appearance of primes like L3Harris and Lockheed are probably zero surprise, but the addition of Sierra Space is noteworthy.

This is their first contract with the SDA, and they now join Rocket Lab as only the second previously VC backed space company to get an SDA contract.

Rusty Thomas, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President, General Manager of Space Applications at Sierra Space said, past winners of prior tranches for the tracking layer mission have been traditional big primes.

This award puts Sierra Space on the short list of companies that can deliver as a prime in missions critical to the warfighter.

And SDA director Derek Tournier said this, we're pleased to welcome Sierra Space, a new entrant as a prime vendor on team SDA as we continue working with L3Harris and Lockheed Martin on Tronche II.

The marketplace is responding to the demand signals for our spiral development model.

The agile response across the space industry is critically important as we deliver to the warfighter this no fail mission capability of missile warning, missile tracking, and missile defense.

The US Space Force will become the nation's first military service that allows troops to switch between full time and part time work without formally transferring to a reserve component or the National Guard.

The move is part of the Space Force's broader vision to adapt military service to the needs of modern Americans.

The new policy is part of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The hope is that by eliminating the traditional component structure, which separates troops serving on active duty from those in reserve or guard units, this offers more flexibility for those looking to serve their country and ultimately keep them in uniform longer.

The US federal government held a space and aeronautics subcommittee hearing on returning to the moon and keeping NASA on track.

The committee heard from the associate administrator for NASA's exploration system development mission directorate, the director of contracting and national security acquisitions for the government accountability office, NASA's acting inspector general, and Dr.

Griffin, who is an aerospace engineer and served as the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering from 2018 to 2020.

And Dr.

Griffin says he believes that NASA should modify the strategies, tactics, acquisition approach, and programmatic structure of human lunar return as it is presently planned.

He says the Artemis program should not be, quote, "kept on track," it should be fixed and then prosecuted with all deliberate speed.

Other witnesses, however, stood firm on the NASA approach to Artemis.

NASA's acting inspector general, George Scott, answered questions from California representative, Daryl Issa, about costs and delays to the Artemis program.

>> Is there any reason that these contracts, particularly to go to the moon and circle it, weren't done on a, tell us what it'll cost half a century after you already did it?

>> Thank you, Mr.


So we've previously reported, NASA's been challenged to establish credible costs and scheduled estimates while certainly appropriate.

>> And they haven't met that challenge.

Is that more or less correct?

>> To date, in the way that we would say is most transparent, that is correct.

I think while it's certainly appropriate to have commercial partners involved in the launch activities, a key challenge that we continue to remind the agency is important to hold them accountable for delivering the promised goods and services at the promised price.

We've previously reported that at times, even though contractors were behind scheduling over costs, NASA was still paying them overly generous performance awards.

And so I think, again, this is less about the who and more about just making sure that you hold them accountable for delivering at the price they promised.

>> Well, a follow up to that.

When you've got to, I mean, because you're in the business of figuring out the why.

Is it because the contractors are not living up to their original promise, perhaps never intended to?

Or is portion of the blame, the shifting sands of NASA, starting a project and then endlessly changing it even when it's to return to do what you did half a century ago?

I mean, I worked as identified various factors contributing to some of these challenges.

One is workforce challenges.

It's harder while you can set a requirement.

If you don't have the workforce available at the time to actually execute it, that's challenging.

Also, NASA's changing requirements.

>> But workforce is a great question.

If I'm any of these contractors, either the historic incumbents or the newer combinations, isn't that in the bid?

>> There's always optimism that you'll be able to get the workforce to complete the work, right?

Some of these contractors are actually competing for the same workers, for example.

And again, whether it's workforce issues, whether it's changing requirements on NASA's part, all of those add into these eventual cost over NASA NASA experiences on some of these contracts.

Again, this is about accountability for holding the vendors responsible for what they're promising.

>> Okay, well, I'm going to go back again.

When you look at the current cost over runs and time delays, can you pull your slide rule out and figure out why?

Or do we have to rely on computers now that cost more and take longer?

Sorry, but I can't resist the fact that we truly did go to the moon with slide rules and we now seem to take longer with more indecision when we're simply retracing the steps.

Perhaps it's because we're not measuring with a slide rule.

Our work previously talked about some of the challenges NASA faced with project management.

Part of it was over optimism, right?

NASA can get things done.

Sometimes that confidence in getting things done so over rules what you know it's going to take to actually get it done.

Part of it is, and Cathy spoke to this earlier, the unstable funding stream.

It's hard to plan in the long term if you're not sure about your funding stream in the near term.

And finally, sort of making sure you continue to grow the workforce within NASA and within the industry to continue to support the work you're doing.

So there are a number of challenges to NASA being able to get these projects done on time and at the promised amount.

NASA has announced that Dr.

Kurt Spudz Vogel will serve as the new associate administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

Vogel succeeds James Reuter, who will retired from the agency in June 2023.


Prasad Desai has served as the acting associate administrator since and now will return to his previous role as deputy associate administrator for STMD.

Over to Canada now, and Telesat and Mage Networks have signed a memorandum of understanding for Telesat Light Speed, Low Earth Orbit Satellite Services.

Telesat and Mage Networks will work to expand broadband internet services to unserved and underserved communities in Canada, leveraging the Telesat Light Speed Capacity Pool that was established through a partnership between Telesat and the Canadian government.

The companies will collaborate on integrating commercial and technical aspects of Telesat Light Speed high throughput and low latency capacity into its services portfolio.

Together they will develop demand and traffic projections and network performance criteria by market segment and define optimal business and operating models with the objective of contracting Telesat Light Speed services.

Australia's Space Machines Company and Canada's Spaceium are partnering to embark on the first ever cryogenic refueling mission in space in 2025.

Under this agreement, Spaceium will showcase its cryogenic storage capabilities on the Space Machines Company's platform.

Following this demonstration, Spaceium will refuel Space Machine Company's spacecraft's tank with cryogenic fuel using the stored reserves to highlight Spaceium's refueling capability.

The UK and Canada have launched a 1.2 million euro Aqua Lunar Challenge to support development of water purifying technologies for the moon.

The new International Challenge Prize is looking to reward the design of innovative technologies to make human habitation on the moon viable by finding ways to purify water buried beneath the lunar surface.

Entries must be UK-led, however the Aqua Lunar Challenge is actively encouraging international collaboration within teams.

The deadline to enter is April 8th.

More details can be found by following the link in our show notes.

China today has launched its Tianzhou 7 cargo spacecraft headed to the Tianjiang Space Station.

The vehicle is carrying supplies including clothing and food for the taikonauts for both the in-orbit Shenzhou 17 crew and the subsequent Shenzhou 18 crew.

Among the supplies are New Year gifts and fresh fruit.

The fruit alone weighs nearly 90 kilos.

A luxury that the China Academy of Space Technology says is essential for the quality of life for their taikonauts.

We mentioned in yesterday's show that there's a growing space industry in the Middle East and the news today is that Oman has plans to open the region's first space port.

Named "ETLUK", the facility will be designed to accommodate space launchers of various sizes and is strategically located in the port city of Dukum.

The announcement was made during the Middle East Space Conference in Muscat by the National Aerospace Services Company known as NASCOM, the entity overseeing the project.

The Middle East's inaugural space port is planned to be fully operational by 2030.

Berkeley Sky Deck has announced that it has relaunched its air and space track in collaboration with the recently announced Berkeley Space Center at NASA Research Park.

The relaunched track takes advantage of renewed interest in space exploration and commercialization, as well as advances in autonomous flight technology to provide startups with the resources and connections necessary for success.

Interested startups can apply for the track beginning with Batch 18, which will take applications from today through February 14, Valentine's Day.

You'll find a link for the applications in our show notes.

And it was due to be a launch day in Florida today, but SpaceX and Axiom Space are now targeting tomorrow, January 18 at 4.49 p.m.

ET for the launch of Axiom Mission 3 to the International Space Station.

According to the media briefing, this launch date change will allow for additional time for teams to complete prelaunch checkouts and data analysis, including the Parachute System energy modulator.

That concludes our briefing for today.

Head to the selected reading section in our show notes and at space.entuk.com to find links to further reading on all the stories I've mentioned.

We've included a few extra stories for you today, and one's on the South China Morning Post on the US-China Space Race, and another one's from ours Technica on the new Helios Space Tug.

Yeah, not from for all my kind.

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[Music] Workforce development is one of the biggest issues facing the space industry, and as much as we talk about ideas for solutions, sometimes it's also good to get perspective on how it's going right now from people who have ambitions to join the space workforce.

So in that spirit, our guest today is geology and astronomy student Tyler Glympf, and I spoke to Tyler about how we can support students like him in transitioning from academia to the workforce.

T-minus met Tyler at the InterAstra event late last year, which brings students into the conference to encourage networking.

So I started by asking Tyler about that experience.

Yeah, so this is my second time attending the event.

It was spectacular.

All of the other like, I don't know, I guess like space conferences or like science conferences in general that I've been to, or nothing like this.

I mean, I'm able to like, essentially talk with people who are like, well into like their professions in the space field and get to like pick their brains, like have dinner with them and like do, I guess like, find like extracurricular activities with them and like get to know them on like a deeper level.

Yeah, what's of interest to you?

I mean, the world is your oyster right now.

You're a student, everything's, I mean, it must be almost overwhelming to sort of narrow it down into what you want to do.

It's like, what are you interested in right now?

Yeah, it's a really hard question.

So, I mean, when I first came to college, I was like strictly all about astrobiology.

I thought that was like the coolest thing ever since like slice spread.

But like as like, I started taking more classes and like my other majors, like, I think I took a geology class and I was like, whoa, like planetary science, like that kind of stuff sounds awesome too.

But then after attending the Ender Astro conference, I could like meet some space lawyers and people doing like, all aerospace medicine research.

And I was like, wow, there's so much going on that I can't really like choose right now.

So like between like all those like areas, I'm trying to like find a way to, since you like wrap them all together as like a maybe like a company one day in the future.

But let's see what time, what time goes or how time goes.

I'm with you.

I'm coming at this later in my career.

And I'm looking at it and it's the same thing.

Like I didn't know half of these fields even existed.

I think our space lawyer friends are going to be really thrilled to hear that you like what they're doing too.

Because there's a there's a mighty need, as they say.

You are studying a whole bunch of sciences at once right now.

So and how things sort of converge is a really fascinating thing.

I hate asking this question to students, but I have to.

What do you what do you think you might want to be doing after you graduate?

I'm sorry for asking.

I mean, yes, yes, yes, that's a really hard question.

But I mean, I honestly don't know.

I mean, right now I'm kind of like doing research with NASA and USC and like something called SANS or space flight associated neuro ocular syndrome, which is like kind of taps into like my aerospace medicine kind of interest.

And I hope to like continue like doing more kind of research like that with like other disciplines I'm studying right now as well in the future.

But I mean, working for NASA or work for SpaceX or some like space company or probably more of a startup space companies like learn the ribs of that.

And then hopefully one day I create a startup of my own.

But I mean, how do they have no idea at the moment?

That's completely fair.

As I said, I hate asking.

I have to ask, but I also hate it because I know I hated being asked that question.

So you are in the middle of studying again, interdisciplinary studies, which is such a cool place to be when it comes to sort of the aerospace side of things.

Do you feel like you have the access and the information that you want?

Or do you feel like you're getting the connections to the space industry that you need right now?

I feel like connection wise for sure.

I feel like the events like Interastra have definitely like propelled me a lot further than I can ever like hope or dream and like making connections like that and like networking.

But I feel like the information has somewhat been like a struggle to like obtain for like certain certain like projects I've been doing like about certain projects that like involve NASA and try to get like their information.

Well, I've it's not been like public information access or it's like information that is like incredibly hard to find.

But I feel like it's definitely like getting to a better spot now.

That's good.

That's good.

Yeah, the reason I ask is in many conversations I have with people who careers are basically helping students get into the aerospace industry.

There is definitely an identified gap that people have said like a lot of students feel like they kind of don't know where to go next and they can't find what they're looking for.

And I was curious if that sort of was echoed in your experience.

It sounds like there's a lot of work left to be done there.

So call to action for a listener.

So on that one.

Tyler, in general, when you think about the space industry, because you mentioned, you know, working at a startup, SpaceX, of course, NASA also, what really excites you like, what are you into?

I think the space industry is like, it's at a great spot right now.

It will definitely be like going a lot further in the future as well.

I mean, like, I think today alone, I think NASA is launching their new X-59 supersonic jet.

And that's like so exciting in like SpaceX, like doing stuff at Starship and NASA is going back to the moon, stuff.

So I mean, like seeing all like the innovation and stuff of technology and seeing how many people are like coming together, like from like nation-wide to like the global scale that come together to work on this like one like huge problem.

This is so awesome.

I'm like so inspiring.

The global nature of how space is moving is definitely for me also something that I really am very excited about it.

It's kind of being in a new space race is kind of neat.

A lot of the people I speak to are, you know, it's been a while since they've been in school.

They maybe have forgotten a little bit about what that experience is like.

If you could talk to them right now, because you are, what would you like, what would you like people to know, like maybe more established aerospace professionals?

What do you want them to know about what you're experiencing right now as a student?

I think the main thing is, is that like the own I've heard is that our generation like probably seems like we're like all like on our phone stuff all the time.

A good bit of us are actually like so excited to like go into like the workforce and like, I guess like learn and experience like new things and that sense and it will actually like, I guess like contribute to something bigger than ourselves.

That makes sense.

I think the main thing is, I guess like why I want to talk about now is like advice for like people who are like my age or any younger that like does it help them get to like where I am or like to get them like further or I am right now.

I mean, essentially like to all like in my story getting to space, like my first like saw, I think there's a Pixar movie called Wally.

I mean, I was like my yeah, that was like my favorite movie.

I watched like 50 times of leeches like that.

I mean, like that like truly got me like hooked on space and then after that, it did like a deep dive on the internet and like started like to give such information as I could to learn more.

And I got to like, see people like Charles Bolden or Charles Bolden and he was like one of my biggest like installations like ever and I'd be able to like meet him at an international like huge.

But this is like, I think the biggest thing is like to dream big as cliche cliche as that sounds, but it's like to really like go shoot for the stars.

Also sounds really cliche.

Let's really like, like put the pen to paper and this work towards your dreams.

We'll be right back.

Welcome back and I'm going to have to annunciate this story very, very carefully.

Researchers using the web telescope have discovered that the beta pic Taurus or beta pic star system has an extended secondary debris disk.

Yes, beta pic has two disks.

Only with infrared imaging were we able to see this previously unseen debris disk.

So thank you, Nurkham and Mary.

Given that the material of this disk glows in mid infrared imaging, but is otherwise quite dark.

The current theory is that the material in this previously unseen disk is much hotter than the main disk and that it's made up of highly porous organic refractory material, perhaps similar to the kind of carbon rich material that Osiris was able to use.

The material that Osiris Rex brought back from the asteroid Bennu and this second disk has a funny shape.

It kind of looks like a cat's tail.

In fact, now it is very unusual to see something hanging off a star system with that kind of a shape.

So the current theory for why it's shaped that way is that it's from recent collision damage.

And I mean really recent cosmically anyway, like a mere 100 years ago.

So in sum, we got some disk pics from web this week or beta pics just clipped disk pic.

See that 10 times faster.

That's it for T-minus for January 17th, 2024.

For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes at space.ntuk.com.

We'd love to know what you think of this podcast.

You can email us at space@ntuk.com or submit the survey in our show notes.

It's always there.

Your feedback ensures that we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in the rapidly changing space industry.

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.

This episode was produced by Alice Karuth, mixing by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliot Peltzman.

Our executive producer is Jen Iben.

Our VP is Brandon Karpf.

And I'm Maria Varmazes.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow.

[Music] T-minus.


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