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China injects funds into commercial satellite launches.

Shanghai Spacecom Satellite Technology raises $933M. Boeing Defense, Space & Security reports Q4 results. AX3 prepares to depart the ISS. And more.




Shanghai Spacecom Satellite Technology raises $933 million in a series A funding round that will go towards building a low-earth orbit satellite constellation for internet connectivity. Boeing Defense, Space & Security have published their 2023 yearly and Q4 financials and for that division, things are moving in a positive direction. ISS Expedition 70 crew held a farewell ceremony for the Ax3 team as they prepare to end their mission on the orbiting lab, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Irish Engineer, Scientist, Writer and Performer, Niamh Shaw. 

You can connect with Niamh on LinkedIn and learn more about her work on her website.

Selected Reading

Shanghai-backed firm raises $933 mln to build satellite constellation- Reuters

Boeing Reports Fourth Quarter Results - Jan 31, 2024

Sierra Space unveils fully integrated Dream Chaser spaceplane amid testing campaign – Spaceflight Now

Los Alamos National Laboratory orders second satellite from NanoAvionics for GTO mission

New Mexico's 50-year plan to squeeze out every last drop of water prompts Google deal to locate leaky pipes

Space Foundation and Starburst Aerospace to Debut New Innovation Pitch Event at Space Foundation Space Symposium

Daka Space Technologies Secures EUR 10,000 to Advance Space Education in Malawi | Space in Africa


Spying From Space- Foreign Affairs

Could a Giant Parasol in Outer Space Help Solve the Climate Crisis? - The New York Times

Why Groundhog Day has its roots in astronomy | Salon.com

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I am contractually obliged to mention that today is Groundhog Day.

Okay, Alice, what you got?

Well, you know, I looked for a Groundhog Day joke with space and couldn't find anything.

So forgive me, this is a non-space joke for this week, but- We'll allow it.

What did the French Groundhog see when it came out of its hole?

Are we doing another accent joke this week, Alice?

We might be.

Oh no, we're gonna get hate mail.

Is Chateau?

Oh my god.

That's a bilingual joke.

It's- [Laughter] Wee-wee.

My French teacher's gonna throw me out.

She's- Ho-ho, I actually quite like that one though.

I might pass that on to my kid.

I like it, enjoy it.

I do, I do, I like it.

[Music] Today is February 2nd, 2024.

I'm Maria Varmazes.

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

[Music] Shanghai Spacecom satellite technology raises $933 million in a Series A funding round.

Boeing Defense, Space and Security Financial Report shows a strong 2023.

AX3 prepares to depart the ISS.

And our guest today is Irish engineer, scientist, writer and performer.

Oh yes, she is all of those things, Nive Shaw.

She has an extraordinary story, so do stay with us for her chat with Maria.

[Music] Let's take a look at this Friday Funday Briefing, shall we?

And this is a lot of money. $933 million raised by Shanghai Spacecom satellite technology in a Series A funding round that will go towards building a low Earth orbit satellite constellation called G60 for internet connectivity.

And according to Reuters, the company, which is backed by the Shanghai municipal government, raised funds primarily from the Chinese finance ministry and various Chinese state-owned companies.

Expect Chinese domestic launch to get even busier as more organizations take aim at directly competing with the satellite internet services currently dominated by SpaceX's Starlink.

That is big news.

While staying with money news, Boeing Defense, Space and Security have published their 2023 yearly and Q4 financials and for that division, things are moving in a positive direction.

$6.7 billion in fourth quarter revenue with revenue up 8% year over year in all.

BDS reported a fourth quarter operating margin loss at 1.5% due to losses in undisclosed fixed price development programs, say the company.

Currently, Boeing BDS says they have a $59 billion backlog with 29% of those orders coming from outside of the United States.

Yes, Boeing overall has been in the news a lot lately due to legitimate concerns about the safety of their aircraft.

The Alaska Airlines incident where a door plug came off the plane mid-flight leads to mind.

Just two points of note here.

One, that incident happened in early January this year, so it's not going to have a knock-on effect to the company's 2023 financials.

And two, Boeing Defense, Space and Security is a different division of Boeing than the commercial airlines part.

Still, safety issues are very much top of mind for investors and we'll have to wait and see what kind of knock-on effect those concerns will have on BDS, if any.

And it feels like we were just talking about the AX3 mission lifting off to the International Space Station and now the all-European crew are heading back to Earth.

Yup, it's been two weeks since the AX3 mission headed to the ISS and the commercial four-man crew and the Expedition 70 crew held a farewell ceremony as the AX3 team, ready to end their mission in the orbiting lab tomorrow.

The lovely thing about a press conference in space is people can be sideways and upside down and right side up while talking to the camera.

Splashdown of the Dragon capsule is expected on February 5th.

It's tough when you're an audio-only podcast and there's epic photographs to talk about like that one.

But here we are and Sierra Space has the image of the Dream Chaser on its shooting star module for the first time and it's worth us talking about.

Sierra Space mated its Dream Chaser space plane to the shooting star module amid shake-table testing at NASA's Armstrong Test Facility in Ohio.

The vehicle called Tenacity is due to carry a resupply mission to the International Space Station this year and is designed to be reused up to 15 times and we can't wait to see it in flight.

That's right.

Smallset mission integrator Kongsburg NanoAvionics US has received a mission contract by Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The 12-view vehicle will host the experiment for space radiation analysis or ESERA mission.

It is the latest of a series of demonstration and validation missions built by the Los Alamos National Labs with the focus of this mission on testing next-generation charged particle sensors and critical flight subsystems.

ESERA will be inserted in geosynchronous transfer orbit and make observations of the Earth's dynamic radiation belts during the solar maximum.

And staying in my home state of New Mexico, the state is looking to space to help solve issues with water.

New Mexico is partnering with Google to hunt for leaky pipes using satellite imagery.

State officials made the announcement as they rolled out a 50-year plan that includes nearly a dozen action items for tackling a problem faced by many communities in the western US where climate change has contributed to warmer temperatures and widespread drought.

New Mexico is the first state to partner with Google on this project and it's hoped that the information will help combat the systems in New Mexico which are losing anywhere between 40-70% of all treated drinking water because of breaks and leaks in old infrastructure.


The Space Foundation's Space Commerce Institute is partnering with Starburst Aerospace to launch a pitch competition.

The event will happen at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs in April and will be called Innovate.

According to the press release, Space Symposium Innovate is dedicated to advancing the development and deployment of innovative solutions crucial to both the expansion of commercial industry and the enhancement of national security.

The inaugural Invite Only pitch competition will take place on Wednesday, April 10th, 2024.

I'm looking forward to going to see that one.

While DACA Space Technologies has secured a €10,000 grant from the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering for its groundbreaking project launching the Malawi Space Stars, a space technology awareness campaign to inspire next generation of space leaders.

The partnership between DACA Space Technologies and the Royal Academy of Engineering set the groundwork for the Malawi Space Stars Initiative, which was officially launched in December 2023.

The project aims to position Malawi at the forefront of space technology in Africa, providing mentorship programs and opportunities for young leaders.

And the International Astronomical Congress, which we'll be meeting in Milan later this year, that's pretty nice, has a call-out for abstracts on decolonial practices in the space sector.

A very timely discussion, as I'm sure you'll agree.

The session aims to showcase and provide examples of solutions via education, culture and outreach activities, as well as belonging, accessibility, diversity, equity, justice and inclusivity protocols in the workplace, organizations and space agendas.

You'll find more details on how you can get involved by following the link in our show notes.

And that's the end of our Daily Intelligence briefing.

We encourage you to visit our selected reading section of our show notes to learn more about the stories we've mentioned.

We've also included a piece on spying in space, and one on an Israeli project to create a giant parasol in space to solve the climate crisis.

Those links can also be found on our website, space.intuk.com, and click on this episode title.

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

Tomorrow we have Nev Shah talking about how she became a steam communicator.

It is a really great chat, so check it out while you're looking for Valentine's gifts for your better half this weekend.

Yes, this is your 12-day notice everybody, enjoying the sunshine that is forecast this weekend on the East Coast, really?

Oh, that'd be great.

You can all blame the groundhog if that doesn't happen though, or if you're just relaxing from the longest month of the year, that was January.

In any case, Nev Shah, you don't want to miss it.

Our guest today is Irish engineer, scientist, writer and performer, Nev Shah, and I asked Nev to walk us through some of her latest work.

[Drum roll] After I did the simulated Mars mission in the Utah desert, what stayed with me was Earth.

What it did was it actually made me appreciate all the resources that we have on this planet, and how you take it for granted, particularly around water that you can flush toilets, you know, and the volume of water that comes out when you flush toilets in.

And I found that when I spoke about it with the General Republic, these were the things that resonated with them and made them go, "Yeah, you know, no food, no power, no infrastructure."

And so it really made me think about, you know, our relationship with our own planet.

And so I, you can't keep going on analog Mars missions.

Again, you've got to find other ways of trying to find a better way in.

And so the biggest issue we have in our planet is that we're not really taking very good care of it.

And so how do we make people care more about our planet?

And how do I connect that lovely philosophy about space that makes us think of these bigger pictures back to Earth?

So I've been actively seeking out going to extreme, other extreme places to see if I can pull more of that from the place.

So I was in Botswana, I was in the Kalahari Desert in July, working with a team of scientists who were looking at this dry salt pan during the dry season, the Magadigadi salt pan, for structures, very similar to what they're seeing on Mars, but they know these structures relate to sources of groundwater.

So if they, if their model works there, then they can say that the same model will work on Mars, you know, theoretically.

And that was six nights in the desert, no running water, no toilets, nothing, living in the bush.

And you learn a lot about yourself.

And again, you slow down and you go into that bigger thinking space, as you do when you, when you think about space.

And the climate is something that, you know, is, is the most useful thing I can do with my skills.

So how do I connect climate change with the topic of space?

So I was very lucky that I got to be a part of a, of an international women in STEM leadership program based in Australia called Homeward Bound.

And they're trying to help women like me upskill in climate change, so that we can become better communicators of it.

And you do this online program, but it culminates in a three week voyage to the Antarctic with scientists on board.

We're all scientists, but they also had an expedition team who had all done research on the, on the mainland, on the continent, whether with penguins or birds or whatever.

And we had one of the guys who contributed to all the David Attenborough programs like the Blue Planet, you know, Frozen Planet, all those.

And every day, like our minds are being filled with this.

And I got to go to the Antarctic.

And again, Maria, I come from a really small town, from a really conservative area.

Never in a million years would I have thought that I would ever have the privilege to have that experience.

And like, it's incredible when you change the way you see yourself and whatever limiting beliefs you have about what you are allowed to do with your life.

It's amazing.

The path just clears for you.

So I found myself the bottom of the world.

And again, the mind slows down.

So there's a pattern you slow down and you start to feel, I don't know if this sounds trippy or anything, but you, I really felt that I could feel the age of our planet.

You know, like you feel you're in really safe hands down there and everything is working together and there's no place for humans there.

Very like Mars, very like anywhere when you take us off Earth where you remove oxygen, water and food.

It feels like that.

It's a privilege to be there and it is so beautiful.

It feels like it's not real.

And it's like the biggest gulp of emotion.

It's completely overwhelming.

It's like it's an over-simulation of the senses in a way.

And again, that's what space does for me.

You know, when you hear about the overview effect and what astronauts talk about this view that they get and it takes some months to think about.

It's here.

When we as humans are in the midst of it, we can't hear the age of our planet and we can't connect with it because we're so busy with the other ways we've chosen to live.

But we're part of the hierarchy of this universe.

And we have a place and we've earned that place and we have chosen to abstract ourselves sometimes from remembering that.

And I think that's one of the reasons why we're really struggling with understanding the decisions that we're making around kind of climate change and stuff like that.

So it was incredible and it just reinforces that amazing overview effect and how we can find new ways of describing it for people.

I feel like the discussion about space, space technology and climate change is one of the areas that really resonates with a lot of people right now.

I would imagine maybe with yourself as well.

When you're talking to people, because I know you do a lot of outreach work, a lot of educational work.

What are you hearing?

What is resonating?

Like what, how are those discussions happening and what's going on right now?

There's a guilt around climate change because people feel it's too big.

Of course people would do whatever they can, but they don't know what that is.

And so they want to know what can they do.

And so, you know, we're beyond getting people to buy keep cups.

You know, it's, it's, it's really about information and it's about like the more people that have an understanding and have a connection to it.

The better chance we have of forcing the people in power with the budgets to really change the infrastructure of how we live.

You know, no more concrete, every house sustainable, every house solar panels, renewable energy, every single house without question from social housing all the way up.

It can't be just for wealthy people to do this.

It's not going to work.

And if you, if you do that, if you, if you can get governments to genuinely upend our infrastructure, then we have some chance and, and then, you know, like what we're doing with the alternative fuels and everything that they're all happening.

But that's the thing.

But I think it's the, what I'm always trying to do is look at, we already know the answers.

It's just about rolling it out on a big, on a big scale because we know how to keep people in space alive in the absence of oxygen, in the absence of water, in the absence of food or any infrastructure.

So you just, we know how to create power from, from solar panels.

We know how to like water is seriously recycled on the International Space Station.

It gets 11 times and, you know, we pull every, every milliliter we can out of everything that's used there.

And we know how to get rid of garbage really well as well.

So all the answers, because you've got the best minds thinking about this when you take people off earth.

So just take those same applications and put them for on earth.

And, you know, and, and that's the thing that I think is obviously there.

And there's a lot of information that our satellites are providing us about climate change, that we know the temperatures and all that kind of stuff.

So it's, again, all that information is there.

It's all freely available to us, you know?



It's such a great point.

You are the second person I've spoken to recently who made such a wonderful point that we, we know how to really efficiently live in space.

And there are so many lessons for us on earth.

The previous discussion I had had was about composting and, and, and how we have to be smart about food waste when in space.

And that there are a lot of lessons we can take on earth from that.

And you mentioned water recycling too.

You know, I feel like those are, these are points that can really resonate with, with people who don't care about space at all.

And then there are plenty of people who don't.




I think we can put the responsibility onto the citizen.

It's not fair.

And I think that's what people feel.

I think somebody, you know, the governments or the people who are, who are the planners of our future cities, they have to take the responsibility and make, make homes sustainable.

It's not, it's not the issue for the citizen because they're going to do it.

They're, everybody would be more than happy to have sustainable homes.

It would be more cost effective for them as well.

Take that responsibility off their shoulders because that's where it is at the moment.

And it's not fair.



It's a, it's a micro responsibility for a macro problem.

It doesn't make sense.


Huge issue.


Huge issue.

Oh my goodness.

It's been a joy speaking with you.

I wanted to give you the last word.

If there's anything you wanted to say to the audience, I just wanted to give you that opportunity.

I think for me, the biggest gift that space provides us is it gives you a chance to look at the bigger picture of your existence and what you want to do with that.

You know, when you look at how short our lives are in comparison to the scale of the universe, we're alive for such a very short period of time.

And yet in human years, hopefully a lot of us will have a long and fully life at least up until 80 years.

So how you choose to use that 80 years is really in your hands and don't let anyone ever prevent you from that.

And if something is blocking you, it's in your own capacity to challenge that and get back on the path and spend your life pursuing the thing that you love the most.

[Music] We'll be right back.

Welcome back.


Speaking for Alice and myself right now, neither of us are at all into the whole Groundhog Day phenomenon.

I guess that makes us Groundhog curmudgeon.

I love that.


I'm not going to even lend any meteorological merit to a ceremony with a rodent and a guy in a top hat and apparently a lot of drunk people gathering early in the morning in Puxitani, Pennsylvania.

Come on.

This is a very odd way of trying to figure out weather patterns.

Nonetheless, it has its roots supposedly in Old World Europe.

Yes, Europeans.

We Yanks apparently imported this one.

Y'all used badgers and hedgehogs, but Pennsylvanians don't have those, so they may do with a Groundhog.

Well, you know, we are quite drunk in Europe.

You can see where it comes from, right?

That's right.

It all makes sense now.

Anyway, I admittedly raised an eyebrow when I saw a headline that said, "Why Groundhog Day has its roots in astronomy."

And I did the reading so you don't have to.

So let's clarify the headline there, a smidge.

There's no astronomical justification for using a badger, hedgehog, or groundhog, y'all.

The timing of Groundhog Day, however, for anyone who keeps an eye on the astronomical calendar, has a bit of logic.

February 2nd falls right smack in the middle between the December solstice and the March equinox.

And it's called a cross-quarter day.

And in many cultures around the world, cross-quarter days and not solstices or equinoxes mark the start of a new season.

So there you go.

Whatever Phil sees or doesn't see, if you go by cross-quarter days on the astronomical calendar, February 2nd marks the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

Don't need to ask a rodent.

Well, that's it for Team Minus for February the 2nd, 2024.

That is Groundhog Day here in the U.S. that I've never understood before now.

And 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 the show notes.

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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 Ivan.

Our VP is Brandon Karp.

And I'm Maria Vermazes.

Thanks for listening.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Such as it is!

[Music] Team Minus [Music] [BLANK_AUDIO]

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