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Starlab chooses Starship.

Starlab will ride to LEO on Starship. Rocket Lab’s Electron has its first 2024 launch. NewSpace India and Arianespace formalize their partnership. And more.




StarLab Space, which is a joint venture between Voyager space and Airbus, have chosen to launch their Starlab commercial space station on SpaceX’s Starship. Rocket Lab launched its first successful mission of 2024 called “Four of a Kind'' from New Zealand. NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) and Arianespace have signed an Memorandum of Understanding for a long-term partnership to support satellite launch missions, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Kevin Brown, Senior Vice President, Business Development at All Points Logistics.

You can connect with Kevin on LinkedIn and learn more about All Points on their website.

Selected Reading

Starlab Space Selects SpaceX’s Starship for Historic Launch

SpaceX: DOD Has Requested Taking Over Starship For Individual Missions | Aviation Week Network

Rocket Lab Successfully Launches First Electron Mission of Busy 2024 Launch Schedule | Business Wire

NSIL and ARIANESPACE sign an MoU for Long-term partnership to support Satellite Launch missions

Norwegian Microsatellite Developed by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Achieves Optical Satellite-to-Ground Communications Link | Business Wire

Space Commerce Institute Partners with Azercosmos to Launch Mentorship Program for Women in Azerbaijan

White House official urges more 'real' Pentagon investment in space mobility - Breaking Defense

The world’s first metal 3D printer for space is on its way to the ISS | Airbus

Exotrail developing space tug to carry small satellites to geostationary orbit - SpaceNews

Space-related incidents during Taiwan’s elections

A Year After Space Force Fuel Spill on Sacred Hawaii Volcano, Work on a Cleanup Plan Continues | Military.com

Space Coast’s new general spearheads more cooperation with private space companies – Orlando Sentinel U.S. 

Space Force wary of China's expanding spy satellite fleet - SpaceNews 

Space Force reexamining acquisition strategy for secure narrow-band communications - Breaking Defense

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[MUSIC] It's a bit of a banner day for SpaceX's Starship.

No, no, no, no news of FAA approval for the next launch of the Super Heavy Rocket just yet.

I know lots of us are waiting for that.

But even without a third launch date set, Starship's dance card is already getting quite full.

Not bad for a vehicle that hasn't even gone orbital yet.

[MUSIC] Today is January 31st, 2024.

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

[MUSIC] Star Lab will get a ride to Leo on Starship.

Rocket Lab's Electron has its first 2024 launch.

New Space India and Arian Space formalize their partnership.

And our guest today is Kevin Brown, Senior Vice President of Business Development at All Points Logistics, to tell us more about their new business line for the space industry called Space Prep.

[MUSIC] Let's dive into this Wednesday's Intel briefing, shall we?

First up today is Star Lab Space, which is a joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus.

Star Lab Space say they've chosen to launch their Star Lab commercial space station on a Starship ride.

Given Starship's massive carrying capacity, it will be able to get Star Lab into orbit in one single mission before the International Space Station reaches the end of its mission.

Once it's launched, Star Lab Space says its space station, which will be fully outfitted on the ground, by the way, will be completely ready to host up to four crew members once it is on low Earth orbit.

And it's not just Star Lab Space with big plans for Starship.

Speaking at this week's Space Mobility Conference in Orlando, Florida, Senior Advisor with SpaceX Gary Henry says the Pentagon has asked SpaceX about potentially taking over Starship missions.

In other words, instead of Starship being contracted out to the US government, in certain critical cases, hypothetically, Starship would be handed over to the Department of Defense, making it fully government owned and operated, and then given back to SpaceX once that mission is done.

As you might imagine, this would be for missions that are highly sensitive or risky.

Right now, SpaceX already has contracts for military missions for Starship, but this kind of, again, hypothetical request isn't something that they've hashed out yet internally or with the DoD.

SpaceX says they're still "exploring their options."

Rocket Lab launched its first successful mission of 2024, called Four of a Kind, from New Zealand.

The electron vehicle carried four space situational awareness satellites for Spire Global and Montreal Company North Star Earth and Space.

The Four of a Kind mission also included a successful splashdown of electrons first stage in the ocean after launch.

The satellites deployed will monitor near-Earth objects from space to provide timely and precise information for space object detection, tracking, orbit determination, collision avoidance, navigation, and proximity alerts.

The mission was Rocket Lab's 43rd electron launch overall, bringing the company's record of successfully deployed satellites to 176.

New Space India Limited, known as Ensil, and Arianespace, have signed a memorandum of understanding for a long-term partnership to support satellite launch missions.

The MOU between the commercial arm of ISRO and the French launch company aims at establishing a long-term partnership between the two companies to meet the global commercial satellite launch service market needs.

Ensil says their heavy-lift launch vehicle LVM-3 and ArianSpace's Arian-6 will address global launch service market needs, meeting the demand for launching heavier communication and Earth observation satellites, as well as satellites for mega-constellations.

NOSA, the Norwegian Space Agency, has successfully demonstrated the Norsat-TD microsatellite developed by Space Flight Laboratory.

The spacecraft successfully transferred data to a ground station using optical communications technology.

The accomplishment is a first for a Dutch-built laser communication device and among the first achieved by a microsatellite.

Norsat-TD was the sixth mission developed by SFL for Norway and launched in April 2023.

It is designed primarily as a maritime ship tracking mission.

The demonstration microsatellite also carried experimental payloads for enhanced GPS positioning, spacecraft tracking by laser, and iodine-fueled propulsion, in addition to the small CAT terminal.

Norsat-4, now under development at SFL for a 2024 launch, will feature a first-of-its-kind low-light imaging sensor.

The Space Foundation's Space Commerce Institute is partnering with the Space Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan to launch a three-month program on space mentorship for women.

The program will connect five women aspiring to be in the space industry, ages 18 to 35, from Azerbaijan, with five international industry experts.

The mentors will meet with their mentees one-on-one each month, and these sessions will be supplemented by monthly seminars from other space industry experts.

The program aims to empower women to unlock their full potential and engage in global collaboration.

Lots of interesting points being made at the Space Mobility Conference yesterday in Florida, and we mentioned earlier in the show about the DOD talking to SpaceX about how they might use Starship in sensitive missions.

And some other sound bites from the conference address how U.S. government agencies more broadly should work with commercial space, especially when it comes to how they provide funding for emerging technologies in in-space satellite refueling and servicing.

Many listeners of T-minus might be familiar with the dreaded Valley of Death, a place where small companies, after being given some initial government funding for an idea or technology, can get mired in endless red tape and delays and, unfortunately, wither away before they can really get their idea off the ground and secure a buyer.

The White House National Space Council head of commercial space policy, Diane Howard, spoke to the conference about the urgent need for change in processes here.

Now, here's a quote from her address that we imagine might resonate with many of you.

"We cannot expect this mission area to develop just from concepts and oversight.

We can't expect to bridge the Valley of Death through science and technology programs and industry accelerator programs.

We need to identify and prioritize resources, funding, and personnel.

We need requirements for the use of mobility and logistics.

And we need roadmaps with prioritized lines of effort and initiatives.

We need creative acquisition strategies with public-private partnerships and cost-and-risk shares.

We need government organizations like Space Force, NASA, NRO, and others to get us off the block with clear strategy, clear policy, clear requirements, and real funding."

The first metal 3D printer for space developed by Airbus for the European Space Agency will soon be tested aboard the Columbus module of the International Space Station.

It could be a real game changer for manufacturing in space and future missions to the Moon or Mars.

There have already been several plastic 3D printers on board the ISS, the first of which arrived in 2014, and astronauts have already used them to replace repair plastic parts, since one of the major problems of everyday life in space is the supply of equipment, which can, as you might imagine, take months to arrive.

Guanyel Aridon, Airbus Space Assembly lead engineer, says, "The metal 3D printer will bring new on-orbit manufacturing capabilities, including the possibility to produce load-bearing structural parts that are more resilient than a plastic equivalent.

Astronauts will be able to directly manufacture tools such as wrenches or mounting interfaces that could connect several parts together.

The flexibility and rapid availability of 3D printing will greatly improve astronauts' autonomy."

We live in the future.

And speaking of in-space satellite servicing, Space Mobility Provider Exotrail spoke to Space News at Space Mobility and said they're working on a new satellite transfer vehicle to take U.S. military satellites to geostationary transfer orbit with the target vehicle launch in 2026.

And we have a link to the full Space News exclusive in our show notes for you.

And that's it for our briefing for today.

And I say it every episode because it's true, there's only so much we can cover in our news briefing and lots more space reading to be done.

So in addition to the links to everything we've mentioned in the briefing today, our show notes always have a bunch of selected reading for your edification.

Space incidents during Taiwan's recent elections.

Space Force still hasn't been able to get a lot of the information from the media.

Space Force still hasn't cleaned up its spill on a sacred volcano in Hawaii.

There's lots for you there, so check out our episode show notes or head on over to space.ntuk.com and click on this episode for more.

Hey T-minus crew, if you find this podcast useful, please do us a favor and share a five-star rating and a short review in your favorite podcast app.

That will help other space professionals like you find the show and join the T-minus crew.

Thank you so much for your support.

We really appreciate it.

Our guest today is Kevin Brown, Senior Vice President of Business Development at All Points Logistics.

Kevin and All Points are starting a new business line specifically for the space industry and here's more on that.

I am standing up a new line of business within All Points called Space Prep, which is developing a line of infrastructure at launch sites that is roughly analogous to airports in the air transportation industry.

It turns out that the launch sites in the U.S. are starting to accommodate more and more launches in the infrastructure, the buildings that you use to prepare satellites and rockets for launch and other support-type facilities are simply inadequate to support the frequency of launch that we anticipate over the next few years.

You beautifully addressed sort of the gap that you saw there and I'm always very curious when I hear about a business that's starting up about the timing, so you decided to start doing this now.

What sort of motivated you to do this?

Well, actually we started about two years ago.

Okay, so, a priest's edition.

This is a long, long process.

We saw this, actually we initially saw the problem way back in 2019.

We actually started doing some publicity and brought up our brand small kids just within the local industry saying, "Hey, there's a big problem coming."

And at the time we really weren't running this type of business.

We just saw the problem and since we didn't see anyone stepping up to address it by a couple years ago, we decided, "Well, you know, this is our bread and butter.

Why not stand up a business to go do it ourselves?"

It's necessary to do it now.

In fact, we're a little bit late, quite frankly, because the significant growth in launch cadence is going to be happening starting to really ramp up next year and then taking off even further in 2025 and 2026.

It takes years to get the permitting and do all the environmental analysis, get the buildings designed, raise the money, do the construction.

So we're looking at opening our first facility out at the Kennedy Space Center in 2026.

That's the earliest we can do it.

That's still two and a half years out from now.

Additional facilities in 2027.

So your question was, "Why now?"

And it's because the demand is aligning with the need for additional capacity in that timeframe.

You also dovetailed really beautifully.

I had just read about the new facility that's being spun up at Kennedy Space Center.

Can you tell me a bit more about that and what that facility is going to have there?


We're going to be developing two facilities at our KSC complex located on about 60 acres of land that is just south of the Vehicle Assembly Building out near Complex 39.

The first building we're going to open is a logistics center, which is a warehouse and processing base for small and medium-sized spacecraft.

So there will be a number of clean rooms, some of which are rather small, about 15 by 20 foot rooms of the table because we're hearing in the market that many of the small satellites, small spacecraft manufacturers and operators don't need to spend a lot of money on a large clean room high bay, which is really all that's available today.

They just need a small room for a couple weeks once they get to the launch site to do their final preparations.

So we're going to rent them essentially a hotel room.

And that's the way we think of it.

This is a hotel.

And we've got multiple rooms and they're different sizes.

They have different capabilities.

Customers will be able to pick and choose which ones they need for the period that they need it and only pay for what they need.

The building will also have what we call operation control centers, which are going to be rooms with consoles and data walls because many of these operators bring entire launch campaign teams into town and they need a place to monitor and control their mission while they're preparing for launch.

And even during launch, so we'll have connectivity out to the launch pads and no waste bring in their data real time into these control centers.

That facility will be open in 2026.

You call it the Logistics Center.

Just on the same complex, on that same 60 acres, we'll be developing a much larger facility, about 270,000 square feet of a what we call a hazardous processing facility.

It's located well away from all the other facilities, including the Logistics Center I just mentioned.

And it will have six high bays that can accommodate spacecraft that are up to like 150 feet long in a large claim room as well as encapsulation bays where spacecraft can be fueled with any of the hazardous commodities like some of the nasty fuels and propellants that spacecraft use.

And then they'll be encapsulated into the the ferries of their launch vehicle and then rolled out to the pad.

So the the fueling will all occur in that facility.

That facility will be open perhaps late 2026, but more likely 2027.


Okay, so I can see the value for sure of this kind of service.

And I'm curious when you're talking to prospects, what do you tell them is sort of the competitive advantage of them using a service like yours?

Excellent question.

There's two main advantages.

One is proximity to the launch pads.

Well, these facilities will be by far the closest processing facility to the launch pads at KSC for multi user purposes.

In addition, they're being designed for flexibility.

I mentioned the small bays while ago today.

If you bring a spacecraft into the Cape area, you really have only two choices.

Either you have either your launch provider, you know, the folks you're paying for the rocket launch will give you some space in their facility, which is very limited.

It's not really set up for the type of processing you need to do.

They'll say, hey, you can have a corner of this room, you go find yourself a table and you can be in there for a week.

And after that, you got to get out, which is not particularly accommodating with the some of these operators need.

The other options are large high bay clean rooms, which you can use, but they're very expensive.

So our differentiator is we're going to have these multiple buildings that have different size rooms from the small ones I mentioned before to medium size, what we call integration cells that can be used to really mount multiple spacecraft on Tuesday, a deployment mechanism, report memory for secondary missions and then stacked with the primary payload and encapsulated.

Or we also have the large space for the large spacecraft that really need the full facility near the launch pad.

So it really boils down to proximity to launch pads and the flexibility of a set of facilities that simply doesn't exist today where you only buy with first long as you need it.

And I'm also curious about space have being part of a larger business.

Can you talk a little bit about any integration there or any advantage that customers can have from sort of being part of that larger context?


All points has been around for about 25 years has been in the business of launch support services and technical services like this for a long time.

So we have a team, a big leadership team that is deeply experienced in these types of operations.

That's a huge benefit to our customers because particularly our spacecraft customers because the operators and companies that are building the spacecraft aren't experts in launch operations.

They're not experts in what is really available at the Cape.

Once we we all get off the bus and my my satellite gets uncreated from the truck.

I really don't know what to expect.

We do we got this leadership has been doing it for a very long time.

In fact, I worked for years on the NASA contract that did payload processing for the space shuttle as many of my colleagues either same contract or something similar.

The larger service offering and capabilities at all points frame provides that expertise tools and many individuals who have expertise in this type of operation, particularly in the specialties include things like cyber software, it develop it support those types of things that are essential to these operations.


Thank you.

I appreciate that.

One of the reasons that we're chatting today of the many reasons is a space conference and I know that all points and space preppers a platinum sponsor.

So if somebody sees you in the hallway at the conference, what do you want them to stop and stop you and talk about?

Or what should they know when they're chatting with you?

I like to talk about the how the space industry picked in the commercial space industry but also the government how it's changing.

What is different today from what it was five years ago and then what we expect it to be different like two or three years from now.

It's important to be looking behind and looking forward.

So they're making good decisions on where to invest their resources and where are the business opportunities that align with the with the upcoming needs for Space Force for civil space and for commercial missions.

Can you elaborate actually would really love to hear your thoughts on that.

Like where do you see things going in the next few years?

Well, you know what's really happened is the cost the cost of spacecraft and launch has come down significantly just over the past five years.

Space X has been a leader in reducing costs for launch and that's going to continue to come down because right now they largely have a monopoly.

So they can the price for launch is a whole lot less than it used to be.

But it could be even lower with more competition and now that you'll a has got Vulcan online and some of the smaller launchers are going to get into operations of relativity and firefly and and others.

We think the price is going to continue to come down.

In addition, the spacecraft the satellites themselves are a lot cheaper because you can pack a lot more capability into a smaller package.

So what that's done is it's opened up many new applications for space.

Everything from agricultural monitoring this different types of communication real time imaging all kinds of science applications.

Medical and I've been reading about, you know, doing 3D human tissue 3D planting of human tissue in orbit for treating cancer.

I mean, those are things that we haven't even really imagined yet.

That's driving demand up.

And what I think we're going to see is something very analogous to what happened in the airline industry years ago.

Some of you may remember deregulation a long time ago, but there there was a time when taking an air trip was something of a novelty.

It was super expensive.

There weren't very many of them.

You go down to the Orlando airport had what eight gates.

That's hard to imagine now.

But then we deregulated and the innovation of private enterprise took over and the air industry just just exploded for commercial passenger transportation.

I think we're at that same inflection point in space this decade because of the tremendous decrease in costs.

We're going to see that similar increase in utilization of faith for just a variety of abuses to include human space travel.

We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

And today we're doing a bit of trivia for you as January 31st has had some interesting space history milestones.

On January 31st, 1958, the United States entered the space age with its first successful launch of a satellite Explorer One aboard a red stone rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The Explorer One team is a who's who of US space legends really.

The redstone was built by a team led by Dr.

Vernevron Brown.

The Explorer One instrumentation was built by Dr.

James Van Allen and the Explorer One satellite itself was built by JPL and led by Dr.

William H Pickering.

Names I know well from physics textbooks over the years.

I'm sure many of you do as well.

Explorer One was not only the US's first satellite, but also the first US satellite with scientific instrumentation aboard.

Yeah, I also would have guessed that the first satellite would have been military, but I would have guessed wrong.

Explorer One had cosmic ray detectors aboard and that always sounds so sci-fi to say out loud.

And yes, this is the mission that led to Dr.

Van Allen discovering the existence of strong radiation belts around our planet, which we now call Van Allen belts in his honor.

Second bit of trivia from today in space history was January 31st, 1961.

And that was the day that Ham the Astrochimp flew on a suborbital flight as part of Project Mercury, making him the first hominid to ever fly to space.

He was only three and a half years old when he went to suborbital space and had been in space training for about half of his life.

He experienced six and a half minutes of weightlessness and 14.7 Gs of force on reentry.

Ham the Astrochimp was in suborbital space for a total of 16 minutes and 39 seconds and had to do work while he was up there, mind you.

Ham's flight proved that difficult tasks could be done even while in space.

Ham retired from NASA in 1963, as a chimp can retire, and went on to live his life in various zoos until he died at age 26, which isn't exactly ripe old age for a chimp, but close.

One might imagine the stress of what he went through might have cut his years a bit short.

I would absolutely be remiss if I didn't mention that the use of animals for space programs, like Leica the Space Dog and Ham the Astrochimp, was never without controversy or obvious ethical issues.

And I would also be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that without Ham's space flight, Alan Shepard would never have flown just a few months later on Freedom 7, the first U.S. human suborbital space flight.

So we thank you Ham and listeners.

If you are ever at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico, I highly recommend it by the way, there is a memorial to Ham right out front.

That's it for T-minus for January 31, 2024.

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

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

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

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

And 2K 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 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 Varmausis.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow.

[Music] T-minus.


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