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Goodbye, Ginny.

Ingenuity’s mission comes to an end. The FCC proposes new rules for space stations conducting ISAM. SpaceX calls for science and research proposals. And more.




NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has ended its mission at the Red Planet after surpassing expectations and making dozens more flights than planned.  The Federal Communications Commission is proposing a new framework to license space stations conducting in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing (ISAM) activities. SpaceX is looking for science and research ideas that will enable life in space and on other planets, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Salvatore Grignano, Senior Marketing and Promotion Officer at the Italian Trade Agency, Houston.

You can connect with Salvatore on LinkedIn, learn more about ITA on their website and meet up at SPACECOM.

Selected Reading

After Three Years on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Mission Ends

First Video of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter in Flight, Includes Takeoff and Landing (High-Res) 

Space Innovation; Facilitating Capabilities for In-Space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing

SpaceX - Research

NASA Selects Winners of Third TechRise Student Challenge

NASA Collaborating on European-led Gravitational Wave Observatory in Space

GMV and Astroscale UK spearhead new ESA initiative for improved satellite collision avoidance

"Europe must promote fair competition between private launch operators"- PLD Space

ESA - Hubble finds water vapour in small exoplanet’s atmosphere

Hellas Sat and Thales Alenia Space sign a Memorandum of Understanding to develop Optical Communication payload for Hellas Sat 5 satellite

Virgin Galactic's to launch 1st Ukrainian woman to space — and 3 others — on Galactic 06 suborbital flight today

January/February 2024 - 10 Defining Moments in Cybersecurity and Satellite in 2023

How the Taiwan Crisis Impacts the Space Power Race

Fighting for Space: The Low Earth Satellite Race | Al Jazeera

New emperor penguin colonies discovered in Antarctica after guano spotted from space

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Maria, we have the Italian trade agency on today's show and I have an Italian space joke for you.

Do you want to hear it?

I mean, do I get a choice?

All right.

I'm sure I'm going to regret saying yes, but please go on.

What do you call an Italian astronaut?

What do you call an Italian astronaut?

A specimen.


I hate...

Oh, no.

I'm fine.


Twenty seconds to L-O-I.

Open aboard.

Today is January 26, 2024.

I'm Maria Varmasus.

I'm Alice Karuth and this is T-minus.

Ingenuity's Mars mission comes to an end.

The FCC calls for new rules for space stations conducting ISAM.

SpaceX puts out a call for science and research proposals.

And our guest today is Salvatore Grignano, Senior Marketing and Promotions Officer at the Italian Trade Agency in Houston.

I'm sorry for the really bad joke at the top, but we're going to be talking to him about their pavilion at SpaceCom.

[Music] Ah, we have to say night night to the little copter that could.

The first aircraft ever flown on another planet, the little drone copter Ingenuity.

Well, NASA officially ended her mission yesterday after Lil Ginny sustained damage to at least one of her rotors.

Ingenuity, the scout for her Mars rover Perseverance, was a tech demonstration and used a lot of commercial off-the-shelf parts.

Was Ingenuity going to be able to fly in the thin Mars atmosphere?

Five flights in 30 days would have been a victory.

And after its first flight on April 19th, 2021, proving that controlled flight on Mars was indeed a possibility, Ginny stayed on the job for three years and flew 72 times, logged over two hours of total flight time, kept on working through harsh conditions nobody thought it could withstand, and opened the doors of possibility for future air-based exploration missions on Mars and beyond.

The announcement about the official end of mission for Ingenuity came yesterday from NASA via Administrator Bill Nelson.

It is bittersweet that I must announce that Ingenuity, the little helicopter that could, and it kept saying, "I think I can, I think I can."

Well, it is now taking its last flight on Mars.

Lots of people are posting their thoughts on Ingenuity and saying goodbye with the hashtag "thanks Ingenuity" if you want to join in.

And honestly, I'm trying not to get a little misty eyed.

Great job, Ginny.

Rest well, little guy.


The Federal Communications Commission has released a notice of proposed rulemaking.

The FCC notice is proposing a framework to license space stations conducting in-space servicing assembly and manufacturing known as ISAM activities.

The commission recognises that as these novel space capabilities develop, they will open new scientific and economic opportunities and provide new tools for sustainable use of outer space.

Effective and efficient use of radio frequency communications will enable these new capabilities and the rules proposed today are designed to facilitate and support their growth.

The FCC says that this notice reflects the input of commenters from the commission's notice of inquiry on ISAM, which sought comment regarding where the industry is today, how the commission can best support its sustainable development, and what tangible economic and societal benefits may result from these capabilities.

You'll find more details by following the link in our show notes.

Now, here's a call you definitely don't see every day.

SpaceX is looking for science and research ideas that will enable life in space and on other planets.

Yeah, they have their own RFP out.

Research proposals for Dragon human spaceflight missions will be accepted through March 15, 2024, and may be included in missions as early as late 2024.

Proposal submissions should focus on one of the two following categories, fitness focused research or exploration focused research.

SpaceX says research proposals submitted will be reviewed and evaluated based on mission objectives, scientific and technical merit and feasibility.

And we've included a link for you to submit your ideas in our show notes.

NASA has selected 60 winning teams for its third Tech Rise student challenge, a nationwide contest to engage students in technology science and space exploration.

The student teams will work together to turn their proposed science and technology experiments into reality ahead of NASA sponsored suborbital flight tests this summer.

The winning teams include more than 490 students representing 46 states and territories.

Their experiments will fly on one of two commercial suborbital flight platforms, a high altitude balloon operated by World View of Tucson, Arizona, or the Zodiac rocket powered lander operated by Astrobotic of Pittsburgh.

The first space based observatory designed to detect gravitational waves has passed a major review and will proceed to the construction of flight hardware.

The European Space Agency announced the formal adoption of LESA, the laser and ferometer space antenna, to its mission lineup with launch slated for the mid 2030s.

ESA leads the mission with NASA serving as a collaborative partner.

And speaking of partnerships, Spain based GMV in collaboration with Astroscale UK has been awarded a new activity under the European Space Agency's CREAM or Collision Risk and Automated Mitigation Cornerstone.

This initiative and extension of the CREAM 2 activity aims to develop an alternative commanding path for late collision avoidance maneuvers leveraging the capabilities of the Galileo return link system.

GMV says that its system offers an alternative pathway for late commanding maneuvers communicating with satellites in Leo for collision avoidance.

The launcher crisis in Europe has been one of the hot topics of debate at the 16th European Space Conference held this week in Brussels.

Addressing this issue, PLD Space organized a detailed presentation at the European Parliament aimed at engaging MEPs and institutional representatives and offering them a strategic perspective on a matter that's increasingly dominating the public agenda.

Europe only launched three rockets in 2023 out of the 223 that launched worldwide.

ESA is actively working to rectify the issue by establishing the European Launcher Challenge actively promoting competitive tenders for space transportation service contracts.

PLD Space was also named as one of five companies chosen for the flight ticket initiative program which is a collaborative effort between ESA and the European Commission which has been established to create a pool of private launch providers dedicated to European institutional missions.

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have observed a small exoplanet where water vapor has been detected in its atmosphere at approximately twice Earth's diameter, the planet GJ98270.

7D, oh my goodness.

The planet GJ98270, quite the original name wouldn't you agree?

Could be an example of potential planets with water-rich atmospheres elsewhere in our galaxy.

Beyond Benike of the University of Montreal and a member of the observation team says that this is an important step towards determining the prevalence and diversity of atmosphere on rocky planets.

Planet GJ98270 is believed to be as hot as Venus at roughly 425 degrees Celsius.

It's not yet known if the water vapor is from the planet's hydrogen-rich atmosphere or if the planet's atmosphere is mostly made of water left behind after a primeval hydrogen-helium atmosphere evaporated under stellar radiation.

ELAS sat and Telus Elenia Space have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the development of an optical communication payload for an upcoming new mission.

The mission will be a future ELAS SAT-5 telecommunications satellite operating in geostationary orbit at 39 degrees east.

The partnership between ELAS sat and Telus Elenia Space aims to provide cutting-edge communication services with very high data rates from geostationary orbit.

This innovative payload aims to connect with the optical ground station of the National Athens Observatory in Greece, optical ground stations in France, optical ground stations of ESA, and Telus Elenia Space's LEO Hydron telecommunications satellite.

And congratulations to Virgin Galactic on their sixth commercial suborbital flight this morning from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic did not reveal the identities of the Galactic six passengers ahead of flight, giving only their home nations and/or states.

One is from Texas, one is from California, one is Austrian, and the other hails from Nevada and the Ukraine.

The fourth passenger is the first Ukrainian woman to go to space.

In fact, it would be remiss if the two of us, being of European descendants, ourselves, did not point out that with the astronauts from Spain, Denmark, Italy, Turkey, and Sweden on the ISS, the addition of two more European representatives from Austria and Ukraine has set a new record for European representation in space.

It's also crazy to think that with 11 people on the ISS right now, three on the Tianyong Station and six on board the VG flight, we had 20 people in space all at the same time at some point today.

That's just amazing.

And that concludes our briefing for today.

You'll find links to further reading and the notices that we talked about in the show in our selected reading section of our show notes.

And we have three extra stories for you to enjoy as well.

One's on how the geopolitical climate in Taiwan is impacting the space power race, another's on the Leo satellite race, and there's a third on my favorite, cybersecurity and satellites.

They're also all at space.ntuk.com, and just click on this episode title.

Hey, T-miners crew, tune in tomorrow for T-miners Deep Space, our show for extended interviews, special auditions, and deep dives with some of the most influential professionals in the space industry.

Tomorrow we have our fourth AWS in orbit episode, Degas in Ghana, empowering small farming through AI and space technologies.

It's a compelling story of how data from space is helping to improve life here on Earth.

You don't want to miss it.

[Music] Our guest today is Salvatore Grignano, Senior Marketing and Promotion Officer at the Italian Trade Agency Houston.

ITA will be at SpaceCom next week in Orlando.

Of course, Maria, first of all, thank you for having me here today.

I'm Salvatore Grignano, Marketing and Promotion Officer for the Italian Trade Agency Houston office.

With the agency, we are in charge of promoting Italy and Italian products abroad and supporting Italian companies in their internationalization process.

At the Houston office, we take care of space as one of the sector that we got assigned for the United States.

And this is the reason why I'm here, because following Space, I'm going to be at SpaceCom, and this is my second time being on your show, and I'm happy to be back.

Thank you so much for coming back, Salvatore.

It's so great to-- I'm getting to speak with you for the first time, so it's really nice to meet you, and again, thank you for joining us again.

So we will definitely talk about SpaceCom.

That'll be right after-- I just wanted to talk about the news that recently happened with the Axiom 3 launch, and there is, and now aboard, the International Space Station and Italian Astronaut.

I mean, all of this, so much going on in terms of Italian space.

You were there at the launch, right?

Yes, I was.

I was one of the lucky people selected to go with the Italian delegation, so I was pretty happy.

That was my first launch.

It was great.

I mean, personal label, it was an incredible experience.

I mean, if you were listening, has never been to a launch, I would strongly recommend it, just because it's an inexperience.

It really is.

When you hear the noise, you start feeling the vibration, and you see the rocket going up, it's something that you will never forget.

And I'm happy that I was part of their experience.

On top of that, there was the fact that we were proud to be there representing Italy, because we're part of the Italian delegation, and we were proud to be in the first all-European private launch going to the International Space Station.

So it was an extra layer of feeling that we are on top of the launch, per se.

One of the best moments was right before the launch.

The Turkish delegation started seeing their national anthem, and then the Swedish delegation, and then the Spain, and then we had the chance to see our national anthem.

And I think it was great.

It was a big celebration of unity, and all these people gathering together to cheer up these four astronauts going to space.

It's something I will never forget.

It sounds beautiful.

It's so moving.

I think it's just so moving, and it matters so much to everyone.

When you see someone from your country that does this amazing thing, it really makes you feel like anything is possible.

It's just a beautiful thing.

So I thank you for sharing that.

I've never been to a launch, so I love hearing people's stories about what it's like, because I haven't had the joy of having that experience yet.

Maybe one day.

Well, take the chance.

I mean, SpaceX is launching pretty often.

It's not that hard to find this lot available.

Of course, not always they launch more often than launch a payload than an astronaut, but just the payload experience would be great.

I mean, we watch a Falcon 9.

I cannot even imagine what the sensation is if you see a Falcon A/B going up, or maybe an SLS, which there are even bigger rockets.

So in term of being a space enthusiast and wanting to go see a rocket going up and enjoy the experience, maybe my next one should be something bigger.

I want to see what the difference is between that rocket that I had, the chance to see, and the bigger rockets.

They are over there.

So yeah, that would be nice to see.

I know for me, I'd love to see a Falcon Heavy or Starship or certainly the SLS.

Any of those, I would be very happy to see as well.

So yeah, it's on my bucket list.

Let me put it that way.

I'd love to do it one day.

So we were talking about an Italian astronaut going to space, going to the ISS.

That's amazing.

Italy in general, there's a lot going on in Italian space, which brings me also to the Italian Pavilion at Spacecom, which I know you wanted to share a little bit about that with our audience today.

So what should we know about the Italian Pavilion?

First of all, yes, you're totally right.

There's a lot going on in Italy in terms of space.

And our involvement in all different levels of space is pretty deep.

We go from the classic space inspiration cooperation between the Italian Space Agency and NASA, the European Space Agency, and all that space agency around the world.

Because don't forget, you know, India land on the moon.

JAXA just land on the moon.

So there are other space agencies they're working on.

And we collaborate.

We almost all of them in different level, in different projects.

So we are happy to be part of that.

And then of course, that is the military aspect of space.

But now, fortunately for us as the ITA, this is the commercial part.

And this is why we are here at Spacecom, because we want to work on expanding our commercial connection with the United States.

Italy is expanding its capability in manufacturing in Italy.

We are creating a new hub in Rome led by Talis Salina.

We are building a new area dedicated to space in Turin.

And we have several hubs there dedicated to innovation.

It is a big program being opened in Padua, Venice area.

We are the Venice Space Cluster.

So Italy is definitely a manufacturer, a solution provider in terms of space equipment.

So and we're going to grow from that aspect.

So growing means providing more opportunities for our partners around the world.

In this case, for whoever is listening, there's going to still thinking maybe to come over and attend Spacecom.

We already asked the ticket, the pass for Spacecom.

We're going to be present with 10 companies.

We have a beautiful pavilion there with a lounge area available.

And we have representatives, they go from companies, they provide machinery all the way to components or full ground system and everything.

So our delegation is pre-mechs, and there is a lot of reason to come and interact with our companies.

But I just want to highlight one thing.

They represent only one small part of the Thailand capability in space.

Consider we have over 500 companies in the space sectors.

In this case, we just have 10 of that.

But unfortunately, the space is limited at the show and the budget is what it is.

So we cannot bring more than 10 companies.

But I guarantee you, whatever you're looking for, we'll be able to provide the information and to connect you with the right people.

Budgetary issues.

We all completely understand.

We've all been there.

We get it.

So I'm sure you've given the pitch on sort of like why Italy in space.

I'm wondering if you can give that to our audience as well.

Because I love hearing this kind of thing.

So can you give me that pitch a little bit?

Of course.

Why Italy in space?

But the first question that we'll try to answer with our promotion activities in the last couple of years, and we create this slogan, there is a lot of space in Italy, and we try to show people that first of all, we have been in space for a long time.

We were the third country launching a satellite in space right after the United States and the Soviet Union.

So it's not like we just show up.

Our space agency is one of the oldest ones.

So we have been around for quite a bit of time.

So we are not new in space.

So this is why Italy in space.

The third reason is for our quality in manufacturing.

I mean, Italy in general, as a brand, it has always been itself as a quality products.

You look at luxury, you look at the food, look at the fashion, any aspect of product coming from Italy, they always have one quality in common that is quality.

And this is where you need a space.

You cannot afford to fail when you are in space.

So you need high quality manufacturing, high quality engineering, and this is what we have been able to provide.

Look at the International Space Station.

We create a big part of the International Space Station was manufactured in Italy.

You look at the module, look at the seniors program.

All the seniors are being manufactured in Italy by Thales Selenia, the famous cupola that everybody takes picture when they go inside the International Space Station.

That was created in Italy as well.

And the reason is because you want quality products.

So we are the kind of country that probably the only country in the world, and I'm not sure about that, but I think we are.

That is able to create a space vehicle from scratch without having to outsource anything in terms of manufacturing because we have company that can manufacture from nuts and bolts all the way up to full systems.

So we don't have to source manufacturing from other places.

So you can get everything in-house, maybe not everything from the same company, which would be impossible, but you can manufacture everything done in Italy.

And that is really where it makes the difference at the end.

So this is why Italy is space.

You want a reliability, quality or component and be able to complete your mission.


Thank you for that pitch.

I love hearing that kind of thing, and I think it's really fascinating.

I always learn a lot through that process.

So thank you Salvatore.

It was really great.

Is there anything that you wanted to mention about the Pavilion at Spacecom or just in general, maybe what you're looking forward to at Spacecom that you want to share with the audience?

Well, first of all, yeah, I want to first invite everybody to come and see us.

I always tell, if you are from the United States, maybe you're from Florida, they're going to attend the show.

Consider our companies cross the ocean.

They travel 10 hours flight to get over here, and you're already there.

So make the last step and come meet them because it means a lot for them.

They are here to really connect and network.

And in total honesty, in most cases, just learn about how doing business in the United States because some of these companies, they are opening to the United States.

They are not established yet in the United States.

So in some cases, they're looking even for partnership for people that can provide solutions for them as well.

So really feel free to stop by even to exchange a business card.

You never know what everything can take you in the future.

And on top of that, I would like to say that Spacecom is going to be our first step this year on a very busy 2024.

I mean, our 2023 was extremely busy, and 2024 is going to be as busy as the 23 if not even more.

So we're going to be a Spacecom.

We're going to go to satellite in Washington with the Italian pavilion.

And then we're going to be a Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

So the first quarter of the year is going to be busy.

But I think the best event of all for us is going to be the IAC in 2024 in Milan, which we invite you all to come to Milan.

Please come to Spacecom.

Come talk with us.

And if you come over, we will have some merchandising for YAK 2024 for the IAC 2024, as well as information product for you to learn about the ratio that we're going to have in Milan.

But there's going to be the peak of the year for Italy.

Finally, being able to host again the space community, the international space community in the heart of the Italian industrial area, which is the north of Italy, the Milan area, the all north part of Italy.

So yeah, it's going to be busy, but it's going to be exciting.

It's going to be a great year for us.

It's going to be a great year for space.

When we heard that it was going to be in Milan, I was about to book my ticket immediately.

I didn't need much convincing.

It was very exciting.

You don't have to twist anybody's arms to say, "Let's go to Italy."

That's exactly.

He's like, "Good excuse.

We're going for work."

So let's put it in the right perspective.

We just need to make the right work.

We're going for work.

We just have them to be in a nice place with nice food and nice people.

Oh my goodness.

No convincing needed whatsoever.

It's such a great event.

I had the chance and the privilege to attend IAC here in Washington.

It was a beautiful event.

It really is.

Space in general brings people together.

But the atmosphere that you get to see on the IAC is quite a bit of unique.

Everybody together tries to face these big challenges.

They are there every time we look at a space and exploring space and bringing humanity to space.

It really brings everybody together.

If you have never been to the IAC, take the chance.

Again, it is an amazing place, which is Milan.

Easy connect with the United States.

There are a lot of flights.

We look forward to vacuum all over there as well.

I can't wait.

Anything else you wanted to mention to the audience?

I know we're wrapping up on time.

I just wanted to give you the opportunity to say anything that maybe we didn't address that you wanted to mention.

No, I think that's pretty much it.

I just want to invite everybody.

Our booth number is 517, but you can miss us.

It's the big Italy in front of the NASA booth.

We look forward to meet you, talk with you and interact during the show.

I hope to meet you in person over there as well.

Maria, I don't know if you're going to be there, but if you are, call me.

Thank you.

I wish I was going.

Next time.

I will be at Space Symposium though.

There is that.

I look forward to meeting you then.

We're going to get a call for you there then.

I would love that.

Thank you so much.

[Music] We'll be right back.

[Music] Hey, welcome back.

And if you've ever watched the March of the Penguins, Alice, have you seen March of the Penguins?

Yes, I have.

It's so adorable.

It's adorable.

It's a lovely documentary following Emperor Penguins as they raise their young and the brutal conditions of the Antarctic.

So if you liked that documentary, this next story might feel a little familiar.

And if you've ever been around penguins in person, like in an aquarium or something, it might also smell familiar.

Okay, context first.

[Music] [Music] So how do you find colonies of penguins from a satellite?

What might you be wondering was the giveaway to Dr.

Fretwell that a whole lot of penguins might be converging in one place?

And keep in mind the penguins themselves are tiny little dots from a satellite.

So no, you need something much bigger.

That is both plentiful, dark, and shall we say, can really cover a lot of surface area if left alone.

Yeah, it's poo.

And the penguin guano, and they do make quite a lot of it, actually discolors so much of the Antarctic ice that it really stands out.

Decent patch of brown and something that's otherwise stark white.

We're a classy show, Alice.

Happy Friday, everybody.

We started off with a terrible joke.

We ended with a poo story.

[Music] Well, that's it for T-minus for January the 26th, 2024 for additional resources from today's report.

Check out our show notes at space.n2k.com.

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

Please don't complain too much about the poop stories and the terrible jokes.

You can email us at space@n2k.com or submit the survey in our show notes.

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

We have 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.

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Learn more at n2k.com.

This episode was produced by Alice Caruth, 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 Karp.

And I'm Maria Varmazes.

Thanks for listening.

Sorry about the poo jokes.

See you next week.

[Music] T-minus.

[Music] [MUSIC]

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