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Peregrine heads back down to Earth.

Astrobotic brings Peregrine back down to Earth. JAXA prepares SLIM for its lunar landing. SpaceX launches the Ax3 crew to the ISS. And more.




Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander makes a controlled reentry to Earth over a remote area of the South Pacific. JAXA confirms that SLIM is ready to begin preparations for landing descent on Friday. SpaceX launches the Axiom 3 mission to the International Space Station, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Joining us for our monthly catch up is Space Lawyer and President of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals, Bryce Kennedy.

You can connect with Bryce on LinkedIn and learn more about ACSP on their website.

Selected Reading

Update #20 for Peregrine Mission One- Astrobotic

JAXA | Transition to the landing preparation phase for the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM)

Stem Cell-Derived Brain Organoids on Ax-3 Mission Seek to Improve Modeling for Neurodegenerative Diseases

SPACEWERX activity

DoD ‘completely rewrites’ classification policy for secret space programs

UK Sovereign Satellite Navigation Overlay Successfully Demonstrated for First Time

BlackSky Wins Initial Task Order Exceeding $1 Million Against New Multi-Year Contract to Deliver Space-based Intelligence Capabilities to Indonesian Ministry of Defense

Europe's access to space 'guaranteed' after 'painful' lessons of Ariane 6 delay, says ESA head- Euronews

James Webb Telescope detects earliest known black hole — it's really big for its age

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It's been 10 days since the Astrobotic Peregrine Lander launched from Earth heading towards our nearest natural satellite.

And for 10 days, we've been glued to the updates.

The lift off on ULA's Vulcan Centaur was seamless.

The first announcements excitedly indicated a nominal mission, and then… Pellent Leaks, an anomalies that have left the team wondering what to do.

Two days ago it was decided to bring the little falcon home.

And today's the day the Peregrine comes back to Earth.

Today is January 18th, 2024.

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

[Music] Astrobotic brings Peregrine back down to Earth.

Jacksept prepares Slim for its lunar landing.

SpaceX launches the AX3 crew to the ISS.

And today we have our monthly catch up with Space Lawyer and President of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals, Bryce Kennedy.

You don't want to miss that chat.

[Music] And today we're going to start our Intel briefing with fire and destruction.

Just an average day in the space industry, really.

But this isn't an average mission.

The first commercial lunar lander mission by U.S. company Astrobotic has had us on the edge of our seats for ten days since it launched.

The vehicle experienced an anomaly causing a propellant leak on day one.

And the decision of what to do next has been a roller coaster of highs and lows.

Astrobotic decided that in order to be good stewards of the new space age, and kudos to them for this, it was best to clean up their junk rather than add to the growing number of vehicles littering space.

Astrobotic has been tirelessly working to position the Peregrine spacecraft for a safe, controlled reentry to Earth over a remote area of the South Pacific.

The team developed a two-step maneuver to move the spacecraft and change its projected trajectory.

The first step requires a main engine burn, and due to the propulsion anomaly, it was impossible to operate the main engines normally.

As such, Astrobotic developed a plan to fire the main engines with a series of very short burns.

They conducted a test burn of all five main engines.

Each pulse was spaced out to avoid overheating, allowing the mission control team to monitor results and the spacecraft status after every burn.

Following this, they performed a series of 23 small main engine burns.

Secondly, Astrobotic adjusted the spacecraft's attitude so the force induced by the leaking propellant shifted the vehicle towards the South Pacific Ocean.

The procedures the team executed were to minimize the risk of debris reaching land.

And as of the time of recording this podcast, we're waiting for the expected reentry to occur at approximately 4 p.m.

Thursday, January 18th, US Eastern Time.

The team will then be holding a call on Friday to share mission updates, so join us tomorrow for more details.

So stand down Peregrine, and here comes Slim to attempt the first soft landing on the moon by Japan.

Slim, which stands for Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, was launched on January 6th last year and entered lunar orbit on Christmas Day.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, also known as JAXA, has confirmed that Slim is ready to begin preparations for landing descent, based on operational results since insertion into lunar orbit.

It was decided to move the landing/descent preparation phase on January 10th, and the Apollo Loon, which is the furthest point from the moon, descent maneuver, was successfully executed and completed on January 14th.

The Slim spacecraft is further confirmed to be inserted into a circular orbit at the planned altitude of approximately 600 km.

JAXA says that the spacecraft conditions are currently normal.

And from now, the Perry Loon, and that would be the closest lunar point, descent maneuver will be performed, and the Perry Loon point will be lowered to an altitude of 15 km on January 19th, that would be tomorrow.

So we're expecting the first attempt at touching down on the lunar surface on Friday morning US time, early morning Saturday in Japan.

SpaceX took to the social media platform X this morning to declare that all systems are looking good for today's launch of the Axiom 3 mission.

And at the time of recording today, we're expecting the lift off at 4.49 pm Eastern time, and the weather is 80% favorable, so you may be listening after launch already.

We'll bring you an update on all that on tomorrow's show.

And about the Ax3 mission, flying with the Ax3 crew is a host of payloads for research and experiments on the International Space Station.

Among the many bioscience experiments heading to the International Space Station's lab is one looking to better understand and model what causes neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease and primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Human brain organoids derived from patients with the two different types of degenerative brain diseases are being sent to the orbiting lab.

And the National Stem Cell Foundation is funding this research, and their CEO says that the data collected from this flight is crucial.

We hope to bring you updates on those experiments in the coming months.

Spaceworks, a US Space Force initiative that seeks to form collaborative partnerships between the military's operational experts and the top problem solvers in industry, academia, and the government, has awarded contracts to 19 companies.

Spaceworks will award up to $1.7 million to each of the 19 Sibir Phase II companies, totaling $32.3 million with a 15-month period of performance.

The 19 organizations applied to the 2023 Spaceworks' Tactically Responsive Space Challenge, which aims to generate cutting-edge ideas and state-of-the-art capabilities that will enable the US Space Force to more rapidly and flexibly respond to emerging on-orbit threats by 2026.

And we should note that 232 companies submitted 302 proposals in response to the Open Innovation Challenge in August of last year.

Among the awardees are GravidX, Impulse Space, Scout, Starfish Space, and True Anomaly.

And you'll find the full list of all the awardees in our show notes.

The US Department of Defense has introduced a new classification policy for space programs that discourages the use of special access programs or SAP status.

The idea is to open still-secret programs to more stakeholders, including US allies and industry partners.

Last year, John Plum, DoD Assistant Secretary for Space Policy, suggested that the overuse of SAPs was hindering information sharing across platforms.

He told reporters that, from now on, the DoD will be "assigning minimum classifications to a various number of things, which will then allow the services to examine their own programs and determine, should this really be SAPT anymore?"

ViASat has demonstrated a UK satellite-based augmentation system known as UKSBAS for the first time, showing how accurate GPS data can maximize safety and improve efficiency.

The UK is no longer part of the EU's similar European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service following its Brexit from the European Union.

And while EGNOS can still be used for non-safety applications in the UK, the trial aims to provide a first step towards a complementary UKSBAS, which can be used for critical safety of life navigation services across air, land, and sea.

BlackSky Technology has been awarded a multi-year contract from PT LEN, exceeding $1 million, supporting the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Indonesia.

The contract will provide immediate access to subscription-based real-time, high-frequency imagery and analytics services.

The Earth Observation Company says that their assured access program gives customers guaranteed capacity within a predefined area of interest.

Brian E.

O'Toole, BlackSky CEO, says, "The Indonesian MOD has made a bold and innovative step towards defence modernisation as an early adopter of space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance on demand."

And those are the main stories that we're following today, and you'll find links to further reading on all that we've mentioned in our show notes as usual.

And we've added one additional story on remarks by ESA Director Yosef Oshbacher at the World Economic Forum Conference in Davos.

And they're all on our website as well at space.ntuk.com.

And just click on this episode title.

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.

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Today we have our monthly catch up with space lawyer and president of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals, Bryce Kennedy.

And I started off by asking Bryce for his opinion on the discussions around sending human remains to the moon on the Astrobotic mission.

So from two sides, and this is something I'm thinking about a lot in terms of how we move space commerce forward, because that's my background.

And also, the reason I got into space was because I'm not going to joke, I looked up at the stars and I go, "How do we make sure we do this right?

How do we get it right?"

So to me, ensuring that we don't bring the problems that we have on Earth up to space, which I mean, we inevitably will because we're humans, but also ensuring that we actually do create those boundaries and mechanisms that respect everyone.

And so when I saw the Navajo Nation kind of petition to potentially postpone this thing, I understood because to have a sacred site, it's really difficult because you look at where Mount Rushmore is.

And that was an incredibly sacred site.

And we just drilled our president's faces right into it.

And it's one of those things where you can like, "Well, it's just for progress.

It's just civilization.

The spoils go to the victor.

But how do we let both live?"

So, and the other thing that I'm contemplating too is when you have threats like China that really don't care about any of this.

And they're just going to bulldoze their way forward and potentially claim, regardless of the outer space, sovereignty of the moon or different locations that are essential to landing on the moon and creating moon bases and whatnot, how do you balance those?

And that's, I don't have a really good answer because to me, it's like, "Yes, I want to, I want to honor that sacred site."

And the other thing is too is you could have 100 other different traditions start to come up because the moon has been sacred for the dawn of humanity.

I don't think there's a single group of people since the dawn of time that doesn't have a legend, a story, some kind of mythology.

It's so ingrained the moon into everything about humanity.

Certainly Navajo Nation is not the only one.

What is more universal to the human experience than the moon in our sky?



But this is the thing is like then you look at the moon potentially, inevitably maybe, is going to be a jumping off point for Mars, for us to reach the outer solar system and become a mining platform.

And so it's a really, really difficult question.

But to me, the thing is, is if these threats outweigh the traditions where it would impact potentially freedoms broader than a traditional landscape and spiritual age, well, it would impact spiritual too.

But that is where I think you start needing to have a conversation with the Navajo, with the nation and these different entities like, okay, great, we want to respect it.

But what if we go down a dictatorship where they take every freedom away from you potentially, and they have the high ground where they're looking down at the earth and potentially sabotaging satellites and every mission that we have where we don't even advance into space.

Then those are the conversations because I would like to have those conversations with these groups to see what their opinion would be.

This is a very difficult situation.

And I don't think anyone's got like, oh, you should have done this, you should have done that.

And it deserves respect and thoughtfulness for sure.

And you raised such fantastic points there because we need to take good care.

We don't want to repeat the same mistakes.

There are external pressures.

And then I think about sort of within the realm of commercial space.

To me, the question is how can commercial space be thoughtful moving forward?

Because there's the law about what commercial space can and cannot do.

And it doesn't say anything in this case.

Then there's sort of the ethics and the morality and the very gray areas of how can you be sort of a good steward of these space assets, so to speak?

We're still figuring that out right now.

How do you, if you have a, because we don't want to go full like military mindset too, where everything's a threat and that outweighs everything.

Because then you're just, you're going to, you know, it's kind of like what we saw with the Patriot Act, which is bulldozed rights, left and right.

And now we saw, we gave a lot of freedoms away immediately in the face of terror.

And it has had some detrimental effects.

We put up the Homeland Department of Homeland Security, which GAO has said was fundamental failure and waste of resources.

And it's done the exact opposite of bringing together multiple stakeholders so they could communicate in the face of terror.

All these are for things.

But at the same time, if this threat does exist and they are moving without any regard of any humans, like, Chinese space program is very interesting where, you know, our, my specialty is the regulatory framework here in the U S very robust and difficult for a lot of people trying to move forward where you have China that doesn't, and they could drop rocket bodies on villages or this, that, the other thing.

And while that is bad, if that is the reality though of what is coming to potentially colonize the moon, how, how, yeah, it's just, it's one of those questions.

Where do we, yeah, where do we balance it?

Because that is a reality.

And I think, I think also sussing out what the reality is as opposed to just fear monitoring, you know, us versus them type of thing, but look at the reality is like, this is our program.

This is how they approach it.

These are the countries that are starting to go over it.

The company's starting to want to move fast and, you know, be as agile and cheap as possible.

Can't get that in the U S.

Where are they going to go?

You know, and having that and then asking these stakeholders, maybe they'll see it.

Maybe they won't, maybe they'll still focus on the sacred aspect as being the ultimate aspect.


The general feeling I have, and I'm a very, very, very big picture person, so I'm very bad at the detailed side of things.

To me, the feeling I get is, is essentially, they just wanted to be, Navajo Nation wanted to be asked.

They wanted to be brought in.

I don't think, this is a guess.

I don't think they really wanted to scuttle the whole thing.

I think they were just sort of like, hey, NASA, you said you were going to bring us in.

You were going to talk to us.

And you didn't.

I think they were trying to just get attention to that issue anyway that they could, which I can understand.

As we move forward, especially as commercial space moves forward, there are going to be more issues like this.

And it doesn't feel right.

And again, I'm just going with feeling to just say, well, we don't care about those objections.

We also, we can't say we're going to just, you know, every single person who raises a hand is going to, you know, be able to scuttle a mission.

But there's got to be some process, some consideration somewhere built in maybe just to say, hey, is there a way that we can make sure that we're at least informing people who are potential stakeholders or interested parties here?

Because that was a miss in this case.

Again, from my kind of own legal background and my own desire for commercial space to thrive 100 percent.

And also my deep, deep reverence for space, you know, that's just built into my being I agree with you.

And yet I would actually, I'd be curious to see if there's, you know, why reinvent the wheel.

Has there been historical precedent or historical examples in the past that have moved, allowed commerce to move forward while honoring these, these voices?

Where's this the first time?

And you know, because that's the thing that's like, we try to reinvent the wheel.

I mean, I've had so many conversations like we should look at maritime law for space.

We you know, there are these things that we've we've done some pretty good work for that could be applicable to space, but we're kind of a lot of people look at it as this new thing when it shouldn't be.


And is there that historical precedent?

I wish I had the information, but I don't.

It's a good question.

Maybe one of our listeners knows I would love to hear that because I'm a very cynical person and my reaction is just, I doubt it.

I really doubt it.

I'm very cynical though.

So, I mean, but at the same time, if there isn't any precedent, I hope there is.

But if there isn't, wouldn't it be amazing if space could be the time we try to get that a little, maybe not right, but do a little better.

That's sort of my Trekkie hope.

Do a little better.


Do a little better.


I wouldn't it be great if we could, if we could just get that a little better, do better than we've done on the ground.

But it is a Trekkie, Trekkie situation.

And Bryce, I've really enjoyed this conversation because it is a really tough one to extricate.

You know, one of the things that back in my, when I had an executive coach and company and a lot of people who worked under managers or leaders, had a very similar feeling.

Like they weren't being heard, but they didn't understand this thing.

And what I would do a lot of times, kind of back to what I was saying before is I'd had the leaders basically transparently lay out everything that they're working on, the pressures that they have, being quite vulnerable from their own thing that allowed their counterparts to understand and see exactly what they're going on and why they're doing the things that they're doing, which might not be the right way.

But there is something about opening, you know, that bonnet so that they could see exactly, you know, how the sausage was being made and the threat that they experienced on their own and that allowed a conversation that was really different.

And I think kind of going back to what I was saying, that maybe that's one of the keys is like someone from military or someone that just had a really blunt conversation like, look, this is what laid that out.

And then at least had that discourse where they could be like, oh, cool.

How do we balance that out from your point of view?

I might take it, I might not.

But I think that's one of the best ways that we could potentially move forward.

Don't need to stop progress, but at least bake that into the process.

We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

Now, I don't get tired of hearing about how images from the James Webb Space Telescope are breaking down a lot of paradigms.

It's kind of what we were hoping for in a way, not necessarily answers, but instead a lot more tantalizing questions.

And some recent stories out of the web world illustrate just what exactly this incredible space telescope is doing to astrophysicists and cosmologists.

In one case, a closer look at the extremely distant and extremely old galaxy GNZ-11, and not to age discriminate here, but it shows that it's much brighter than it should be for a galaxy its age.

Astrophysicist Roberto Maolino of the University of Cambridge published a paper in Nature about GNZ-11 with a theory on why this very old galaxy is so bright.

And his paper is called A Small and Vigorous Black Hole in the Early Universe.

And as you might surmise from the title, the theory is that a supermassive black hole, a mac dab in the middle of the galaxy, is drawing just so much stellar material into it, gas being pulled in with so much friction, that that is what's making the galaxy so unusually bright.

And this supermassive black hole is voracious and weirdly young, kind of like a teenager.

And Maolino says it seems like GNZ-11's black hole is basically, and I'm quoting here, "eating an entire sun every five years."

And that is a kind of black hole hunger they didn't even think was possible.

But what's really puzzling Maolino is that the thinking is, a black hole that powerful should take a lot more time to get that big.

But GNZ-11's black hole is way bigger than it should be for its age.

So did it form some other way?

Are our frameworks of understanding for how and when black holes form incomplete?

Yeah, possibly.

It's amazing that we are only just about a year and a half into getting data from web.

And yet the more we learn, the less we seem to know.

That's it for T-Minus for January 18th, 2024.

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

Our privilege 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 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 of our mazes.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow.



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