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US military to reconnect space, cyber, and information.

The US Air Force Department pulls in cyber, space and information units. BlackSky scores contracts from Indonesia. Pale Blue awarded $27M in grants. And more.




The US Air Force is partnering with Space Operations Command to integrate space-based capabilities into all of its warfighting operations to defend space assets from cyber attacks. The Republic of Indonesia has awarded a contract to BlackSky to establish a dedicated Earth imaging satellite network. Pale Blue has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research program grant from Japan to develop and demonstrate key technology for space debris mitigation, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Sarah Kalmeta, also known as Sarah the Pivoter on getting involved in SpaceKind.

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

Selected Reading

New Department of Air Force partnership brings cyber, space and information units closer- DefenseScoop

BlackSky Wins Approximately $50 Million in Multi-Year Contracts for Gen-3 Capabilities and Services to Accelerate Sovereign Space Capabilities for Indonesian Ministry of Defense- Business Wire

Pale Blue awarded up to USD 27M for MEXT’s SBIR-3, to develop and operate propulsion systems critical to space debris mitigation

NASA Launches New Climate Mission to Study Ocean, Atmosphere

Ball Aerospace Ships Space Systems Command Operational Weather Satellite for Launch

Kuva Space establishes U.S. arm in Fairfax, Virginia - SpaceNews

January, 2024 Exolaunch Wins Public Tender of the European Space Agency for Launch and Deployment of the Arctic Weather Satellite (AWS)

SmallSpark Awarded Multi-Year Funding for Mission Planning and Design Automation Platform.

China's commercial aerospace sector develops in an all-round way - CGTN

Voyager Space and Palantir Join Forces to Advance National Security Capabilities in Commercial Space

ESA - Capturing the ripples of spacetime: LISA gets go-ahead 

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Spaces for everybody, we often say, unless you're trying to make a mess of it.

In that case, no, we don't want space to be for you.

And Ditto says the Air Force, which is why they're working on a coordinated front with the Space Force in safeguarding space assets against cyber attacks, making space a much less friendly place for adversaries.

Today is February 8th, 2024.

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

The U.S.

Air Force draws in cyber, space, and information units.

Black Sky scores contracts from Indonesia.

Pale Blue awarded $27 million in CIDR grants.

And our guest today is Sarah Kalmetta, also known as Sarah the Pivoter, on getting involved in the organization SpaceKind.

And here's our Intel briefing for today.

And we do say it a lot on T-minus, space and cybersecurity, they're really, really interrelated.

And it's not just us banging that drum.

Today we're learning that the Air Force are partnering with Space Operations Command to embed Space Force personnel into the 16th Air Force, which is the Air Force's information warfare organization.

And they're doing this to help better defend military space assets from cyber attacks.

And to provide more context on this, I spoke with Brandon Karp, our vice president here at NTK Networks, about his take on this announcement and what it means.

So essentially, each of the military services have something called a service cyber component.

So this is the part of that service that is assigned to U.S. cyber command and typically is responsible for a number of things.

And what's consistent across the service cyber components and the 16th Air Force is the Air Force's service cyber component is that they tend to be responsible for cyber operations, network operations often fall under their intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, cryptology.

These are all the different aspects of military operations and capabilities that tend to fall under the purview of a service cyber component.

And so this recent article is basically the Air Force saying that they are trying to closer align their service cyber component, the 16th Air Force, with the space operations.

When you think about space capabilities right now, space capabilities are really network capabilities, right?

This is critical communications capabilities, intelligence collection and information providing capabilities to the joint force.

And so aligning the 16th Air Force and the space operations command together, or at least in a way that they communicate more clearly and more effectively in an operational way, will inherently support the missions of the 16th Air Force.

Okay, so I'm coming in with a really stupid question coming in hot with this one.

Space Force spun off from the Air Force not that long ago.

This to me looks a little bit like it's pulling things back.

Is that impression at all correct?

I mean, it's conjecture, but I think it is.

I think I think that's exactly what we're saying.

So essentially, Space Force spun out 2019 and space capabilities, there were Army space capabilities, Navy space capabilities, Air Force space capabilities.

And those capabilities over the last few years were pulled in terms of the manning, the training and the equipping, providing those technical capabilities and the operations to the Space Force under the purview of the Space Force.

And what we saw was Space Force pulling in the management of those capabilities. 16th Air Force certainly had some purview over those capabilities before the existence of Space Force.

Certainly Fleet Cyber, where I worked for a number of years, did have assets that were space operations focused.

Once the Space Force took control of those, the lines of communications probably over the last few years broke down a little bit unintentionally.

And because the network capabilities, the technical capabilities of these space assets are so critical to the warfighter, so critical to the various combatant commands around the world and the missions that the 16th Air Force or Fleet Cyber or Army Cyber have to conduct globally every single day, it just makes sense that they would better align those organizations, bring them a little bit closer and try to formalize the relationship a little more just because 16th Air Force is responsible for cyber, it's responsible for electronic warfare, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, network operations, it's responsible for providing those assets to combatant commanders around the world and to US Cyber Command.

Space technology is critical to so many of those operations that I just outlined that it just, it's important that they communicate well and that they collaborate in an effective way.

The Republic of Indonesia has awarded a contract to BlackSky to establish a dedicated Earth Imaging Satellite Network.

BlackSky, in partnership with Telus Alenia Space, aims to supply imagery and analytical solutions to the Indonesian government's Ministry of Defense.

The companies will deliver Gen 3 Earth Observation Satellites, ground station capabilities, and flight operation support.

BlackSky has also provided assured subscription-based real-time imagery and analytic services to support the Indonesian MOD.

These multi-year contracts have a combined value of approximately $50 million.

Brian Eotool, BlackSky's CEO, said in the press release that BlackSky now offers sovereign nations the ability to gain foresight into critical matters that affect their national security and economy, using commercially available Earth Observation Technology today.

Indonesia's first sovereign satellites will share the same capabilities as BlackSky's future Gen 3 commercial constellation.

And over to Japan now, and Pale Blue has been awarded a grant by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology under the Small Business Innovation Research 3 program to develop and demonstrate key technology for space debris mitigation.

The grant is worth up to $27 million and will enable the development and demonstration of a miniaturized water-based ion thruster and a water-based Hall Effect thruster by Fiscal Year 2027.

The CBER 3 program supports startup companies that are ready for large-scale technology demonstration and is designed under the Small Business Innovation Research program in Japan to promote innovation by facilitating research and development executed by startup companies.

And some good news today -- NASA's PACE, or the Plankton Aerosol Climate Ocean Ecosystem Satellite, successfully launched into orbit in the early hours of this morning from Florida.

PACE will provide insights into the interactions of the ocean and atmosphere and how a changing climate affects these interactions.

The PACE mission will study the impact of tiny, often-invisible things like microscopic life in water and microscopic particles in the air.

NASA confirmed signal acquisition from the satellite about five minutes after launch, and so far the spacecraft is performing as expected.


Ball Aerospace successfully shipped the weather system follow-on microwave satellite, known as WSFM, to Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The satellite is the first of two that Ball Aerospace will deliver for the U.S.

Space Forces Space Systems Command, Next Generation Operational Environmental Satellite System.

The spacecraft is scheduled to launch in late March aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and once in orbit, WSFM aims to improve space-based environmental monitoring capabilities for the Department of Defense.

Finnish hyperspectral imaging company KUVA Space has announced plans to establish a U.S. space in Virginia, and the move is being spearheaded by a U.S. board member and former ICE-I CEO Jerry Walsh.

The company says that the new location is aimed at attracting U.S. government customers.

German and U.S. company EXO Launch has signed its first launch contract with the European Space Agency for launch services arrangement, integration, and deployment of the Arctic Weather Satellite.

The Arctic Weather Satellite is a micro-satellite aiming to provide high-resolution temperature and humidity profiles in all weather conditions in the Arctic.

The satellite is scheduled to launch no earlier than June 2024 on a SpaceX rideshare mission to a Sun-synchronous orbit.

Cardiff-based Small Spark Space Systems has been awarded a multi-year contract through the Welsh Government's flexible innovation funding program, and the company says that the funding will be used to support the development of Small Spark's next-generation missions and systems-designed platform called the Mission Management Suite or MMS.

And the platform, which is set to launch in its public beta next month, seeks to reduce the sizes of teams needed to plan, prototype, and execute their ambitions in space.

China says that 65% of satellite launches in 2023 in that country were by commercial companies.

That percentage looks set to grow in 2024, as China's commercial space sector is rapidly growing and has been highlighted as one of the country's strategic emerging industries.

China has sent 270 satellites into space in the past year, of which 137 were commercial satellites. 13 of the launches we should know were carried out by commercial rockets.

Wen Zhao Xiaolong, Chairman of the China Commercial Space Alliance, told the China Media Group that the commercial aerospace industry in China is ushering in a historic opportunity for development.

He said, "This will greatly improve the ability to obtain commercial remote sensing data and the level of application services, and the commercial aerospace will inject stronger impetus into the construction of a space power."

And that concludes our briefing for today.

The Selected Reading section of our show notes has links to further reading on all the stories we've mentioned, and we've included one extra for you.

It's on an agreement between Voyager Space and Palantir to advance national security capabilities in commercial space.

All these links and more can be found on our website at space.ntuk.com.

Just click on this episode title.

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[Music] Our guest today is Sarah Calmetta, also known as Sarah the Pivoter.

Now, Sarah is an entrepreneur, professional speaker, and a podcast host.

And she has been in the aviation business world for the last 15 years, and last year she made the sidestep over to space.

[Music] Believe it or not, my first two words were for "star" in airplane.

And my mom realized that I knew the difference between the ones that moved and the ones that did it.

I've been looking upward since I can remember, but as I started going through school and looking at what at that time was the narrative and requirement for being an astronaut, my eyesight was also not so good and these types of things.

And I thought, "What else could I do that I could still have a lot of fun with?"

And airplanes were the next big thing.

So I did that, and I moved to Asia for 13 years.

I was abroad in Singapore, mainland China, and Hong Kong.

And over there, I didn't really have much opportunity to get involved in the space community.

I still remember though, one morning watching the Inspiration 4 launch from Lama Island, like holding my phone up to get signal so that I could watch it.

And then, of course, you know, it was COVID time and I came back to the US to visit family.

During the time that I was here, Hong Kong shut the border from the US as well as a few other countries.

So I was looking at a very expensive and lengthy proposition to get back home.

So I decided to travel and see what I could do here and just follow the breadcrumbs.

And I met Dr.

Sion Proctor at an aviation conference I was at.

And she told me all about the Analog Astronaut Conference.

And I was like, "What?

I didn't know about this."

Basically, an Analog Astronaut.

"Tell me more.

I want to do it."

So she said, "Hey, we're having our conference in May.

Like you should come."

And so I did.

And it's just been this wild ride from there, getting to meet Loretta Whitesides and Frank White and just the amazing people in this industry.

What an incredible journey.

I just want to say, you call yourself the Pivoter, which is a great, such a great way to call yourself.

Because indeed, you just were rolling with it.

But that brings me to sort of where you are now.

You're bringing all of this experience that you've had over the course of your life and career.

You're doing something really fascinating.

And I don't want to mangle the pitch for this.

Because I will not summarize it well.

Could you tell the audience a bit about what SpaceKind is a little bit?


So SpaceKind is this eight-week leadership program for people in the space industry or that want to get into space.

And it was founded by Loretta Whitesides.

And all you need to do is go to CosmicCitizen.training/SpaceKind and watch the video.

And I can guarantee you're going to be moved to tears.

I will test to that.

It is a very moving short video.


It's fantastic.

I watched it just a few minutes before we started chatting and I was blown away.

So yeah.


And so Loretta founded this because she was running a similar program at Virgin Galactic in the past and she realized that we have incredibly talented and smart people in the space industry.

But we've also neglected the human side of ourselves in that logic and the science and the, you know, all of the excitement of those things.

And so it's really time that we treat Earth as a spaceship and be the crew of Spaceship Earth because as she said, we're already on a rocket ship going through space.

And in that learning how to work together and truly understand and connect, we will not only have more successful and more safe missions going to space, but we can bring those lessons back to Earth and make it better here so that we love the lives that we wake up to and we like who we are no matter what our accomplishments are.


I could see very easily people who are very motivated by challenging themselves and very achievement focused.

I've often wondered, I had a discussion with Frank White last year about the overview effect in his interviews with astronauts after they've come back.

And I often wondered after achieving something really great, there can be a let down, a feeling of like, is that it?

And I wonder, do you help people without you walk them through sort of the what's next feeling in my way off base here?

I'm just curious.

I mean, I've never been to space.

That's not a huge surprise, but I'm just so curious about that.


So in this program this year, I'm now a group lead with some other phenomenal facilitators and Christina Starr is leading the program and Loretta's acting as a group lead this time because it's growing so much, which is wonderful.

And it's essentially an eight weeks heroes journey using the heroes journey from Joseph Campbell.


And so we go through this eight step process every week, we have a group call and we review the book that Loretta wrote, which is the new rights stuff.

And that's our training manual for the course.

And then there's a level two that you can do, which goes a little bit deeper, another eight week journey.

And it's really foundational personal work.

It's things like starting where you are and learning what your power is.

And a lot of us tend to think our power is something external, the things that we do rather than who we are and how we show up day to day.

So it's really detaching from that outcome so that when you do the great things, whether that's going to space or building the rocket or developing some nutritious food that actually tastes good for astronauts, you are still enjoying the journey rather than so focused on the outcome that you get that let down.

We also go into things like your dark side.

And there's a lot of space analogies using Star Wars and Star Trek.

And it's so fun.

I love the punny stuff because I geek out on it all day.

And it's really, it's an acknowledging that by accepting who we are fully, we can get through to the other side and we can grow and we can evolve.

It's when we try to pretend that that doesn't exist or we don't communicate and we don't feel, then that's where we get into some strife later on.

And there's, there's been many mental health issues within the space industry, but also just in the world in general.

So this work is very powerful for people who are starting to open up to their true nature.

I really, I really resonate with that.

And I can see the discussions where we talk about resilience and toughness and grit and all that kind of thing, but that can have such a hard edge to it.

I understand the necessity of it, but it does have such a hard edge to it.

And I really appreciate what you all are doing in terms of thinking about things in a much broader context and growth and not just like get through this thing or just do the thing, not just check the box.

I think that's really very important.

And I'm so curious, I know there's a number of cohorts in this program and there's one coming up.

What is the vision for when people come out of this program?

What is the hope of sort of maybe how they've evolved a little bit or how they, how they can take the next step forward, so to speak?


So right now we're in Spacekind 12 and cohort 13 will begin on May 7th in this year.

And what the best thing about it is even after that eight week journey is concluded, you still have access to all of the Spacekind community.

So there are regular wider community calls and I go to an event and people are like, who's Spacekind?

And all these hands go up and it just invites this camaraderie.

It's really, really special.

But the hope is that going through this program will allow you to shift your perspective and better connect with each other and to what your true passion and what you came to Earth to do so that you're putting your energy into something that lights you up so that you can make a difference in the world rather than forcing yourself down an avenue that you think you should do because someone else told you that it was valuable.

So it's really about stretching outside the comfort zone and creating a life that you love waking up to.

And when you do that, all of Spacekind, all of us here on Earth, everyone in the space industry no matter what sector is going to benefit.


And I think the need is great.

And especially now, but in an industry that is as high pressure as the space industry is, yes, correct, kindness, having other avenues to release stress, to understand what you're experiencing.

A lot of us, especially for very STEM focused, there wasn't a lot of attention given to emotions or what's happening.

And so when that doesn't go tended to, it's like, you take a shower every day for your body.

What are you doing for your mind and for the inner you that needs rejuvenation?

And so making sure that we're very holistic in our approach, not just in one lane.


Mind and body.



And soul.

Yes, exactly.

Sarah, I'm thinking ahead to we're sort of entering conference season.

This is a bit of a tangential question, but for me personally, I find conferences are fascinating and fun and also super stressful.

And I'm thinking it can be a pressure cooker situation, especially in a high stress industry.

I mean, if you could put out a call to people in the space industry, especially as we're entering this high pressure season, even though when is it not high pressure?

What would you say?

If you could just be like, hey, everybody keep this in mind.

What would you want to tell people?

I would direct their attention to a quote by Lao Tzu.

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."

Take your time when you're at these conferences to be present and remember to take care of yourself.

If you're an introvert and you know it's going to drain your energy, schedule time where you're going to go back to your room and just chill for a minute.

If you're the extrovert that loves being around people, great, but still remember on the back end of those very busy three, four days, you will also need time to just take a breather.

So being very intentional with how you approach it, slowing down is going to help you to really be present.

And very often that gets you to where you want to go faster because when you're present, when you're not this frantic energy that's very scattered, people tune in and they want to know who you are and what you're doing and you will remember what they said to you, which then leads to more opportunities, to more connections, collaboration, innovation.

So my number one piece of advice is slow down and be very intentional.

What is it that you are going to this conference for?


And direct all of your energy to that and you'll be able to make it through to the other side.

We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

Here on Earth, we were able to confirm the existence of Einstein's theorized gravitational waves with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory or LIGO.

Those are two separate facilities about 2,000 miles apart in the United States.

And LIGO made its first gravitational wave detection in 2015 and has made dozens upon dozens more in the years since.

So we now know for sure that when supermassive objects in the cosmos accelerate, like when black holes collide, they can and do shake the universe.

So rippled in the fabric of space-time, a wave of gravity is going to be, to use the scientific term, absolutely ginormous.

So our ground-based detectors here on Earth are going to be constrained about what they can actually detect by, well, the size of the Earth.

If only we had vast swaths of emptiness around our planet that we could use and maybe put a bunch of spacecraft in it really, really far apart.

So instead of detectors being thousands of miles apart, how about many millions?

Well, ESA's got the green light for ESA.

Sorry, I just had to say that.

ESA's new project, ESA, or the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, will be three spacecraft in an equilateral triangle formation with each side 2.5 million kilometers apart.

And each ESA will be beaming lasers at free-floating golden cubes housed in each spacecraft.

And should the distances between these objects change even by a tiny fraction of a distance, that will be because of a gravitational wave rippling through and altering the fabric of the universe.

This knowledge will help us better understand the first moments after the formation of the universe and how much the universe is expanding currently.

And on a slightly less unbelievably cosmic scale, ESA will also give us a heads up if nearby stellar objects like white dwarfs or neutron stars are merging.

And let us know how our Milky Way neighborhood is changing.

So cool.

So here's a great quote to put it all into perspective from Lisa, Project Scientist, Oliver Genrich.

"For centuries we have been studying our cosmos through capturing light.

Coupling this with detection of gravitational waves is bringing a totally new dimension to our perception of the universe.

If we imagine that so far with our astrophysics missions, we have been watching the cosmos like a silent movie, capturing the ripples of space-time with Lisa will be a real game changer, like when sound was added to motion pictures."

Such a great quote, Oliver.

Now that Lisa has been approved by the ESA Science Program Committee, the work begins.

And the goal is to have this trio launched aboard an Aryan 6, fingers crossed, in January 2035.

That's it for T-Minus for February 8th, 2024.

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

We're privileged that NTK 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 Varmasus.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow.




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