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Odie’s still kicking.

Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus is still operating. The Russian module on the ISS suffers another coolant leak. Iran launches a new EO satellite. And more.




Intuitive Machines’ lunar lander Odysseus continues to operate on the surface of the Moon. The Russian made Nauka module attached to the International Space Station has suffered a leak of a backup cooling system. Iran successfully launched the "Pars-I" remote sensing and imaging satellite into orbit from Russia, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Dr. Knatokie Ford, Founder and CEO of Fly Sci Enterprise. 

You can learn more about Knatokie’s work on her website

Selected Reading

IM-1 | Intuitive Machines

Lonestar Data Holdings Independence Payload Makes History with Successful Test Of Data Storage Concept From The Surface Of The Moon. 

Russian module on International Space Station suffers coolant leak- Reuters 

NASA monitoring increased leak in Russian ISS module - SpaceNews 

Russian module on International Space Station suffers coolant leak- Reuters 

Iran's Pars 1 satellite enters space after Russian launch- Reuters

Viasat Wins Contract from Northrop Grumman on U.S. Air Force's Commercial Space Internet Experiments

Congress Takes Action to Beat China in Space

Firefly Aerospace Doubles Facilities in Briggs, Texas to Support Medium Launch Vehicle

AAC Space Africa wins SEK 2.3 M satellite order

Bright Ascension And Third Planet Orbital Announce Partnership

Space-Caused Eye, Head Pressure Research as Crew-8 Preps for Launch

Varda Capsule Reentry - Full Video from LEO to Earth

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[MUSIC] The journey of the lunar lander Odysseus has had a number of emphatic statements made since its nail biter of a landing last week.

I'm sure many of us Python heads had a good chuckle at the not dead yet, that we heard from Mission Control, when everyone was trying to figure out if it had landed softly or not.

And now, about a week later, we've got another emphatic statement regarding Odie.

Still kicking.

[MUSIC] Today is February 29th, 2024.

Happy leap day.

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

[MUSIC] Intuitive machines as Odysseus is still kicking.

The Russian module on the ISS suffers yet another coolant leak.

Iran launches a new remote sensing and imaging satellite.

And our guest today is Dr.

Nakoti Ford, founder and CEO of FlySci Enterprise.

She'll be speaking to T-minus producer Alice Karuth about diversity, equality, and inclusion in space.

Stay with us for that chat in the second half of the program.

[MUSIC] Let's dive in, shall we?

The report from Intuitive Machines today on their lunar lander Odysseus can be summed up in two words.

Still kicking.

According to the company's website, Odysseus continues to operate on the lunar surface.

At approximately 11 AM CST, flight controllers intend to downlink additional data and command Odie into a configuration that he may phone home if and when he wakes up when the sun rises again.

And part of this historic mission is new commercial payloads that have reached the lunar surface.

We did a whole program on them last Friday if you want to learn more about them.

And one of those payloads from Lone Star Space has successfully conducted a full data storage test from the moon's surface.

The test was conducted for Lone Star's customer, the state of Florida, led by Space Florida, together with Intuitive Machines.

The test marks a leap forward for global disaster recovery services and leads the way for future commercial lunar payload services missions.

Going to low Earth orbit now and the Russian-made Nauka module attached to the International Space Station has suffered a leak of a backup cooling system.

Russian space agency Roscosmos have pointed out that the astronauts aboard the orbiting vehicle are not in immediate danger.

The international ISS occupants are working together to assess the problem.

The backup cooling system is used to regulate onboard temperatures for astronauts.

Additionally, NASA says it is studying a long-running air leak on a different Russian module that recently increased in magnitude.

The leak in the Zvezda service module increased about a week before the February 14 launch of the Progress MS-26 cargo spacecraft to the station, which docked at the same module.

Listen, small leaks, it's the problem that many of us faces we get older, right?

A small leak hopefully won't affect the work ongoing the orbiting lab, though.

Iran successfully launched the PERS-I remote sensing and imaging satellite into orbit from Russia.

The live broadcast of the launch, facilitated by the Russian Soyuz 2.1b launcher, was aired on Iranian state television.

The IRNA news agency disclosed that the satellite took off from Russia's Vostochny launch base earlier today.

The satellite was reportedly manufactured in Iran and will reportedly be used to scan Iran's topography from an orbit of 500 kilometers.

Viasat has been awarded a contract from Northrop Grumman to support the US Air Force Research Laboratory Initiative, called the Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet, or DUSY Call 003 program, better known by its nickname, Global Lightning.

Northrop Grumman was awarded a four-year contract to test how defense contractors and commercial SATCOM providers could integrate space internet services into existing military systems.

And as part of its contract with Northrop Grumman, Viasat will provide its Viasat 3 satellite communications network to enable military users to easily access high bandwidth satellite internet connectivity from existing USAF aircraft or ground vehicles.

US elected officials have introduced legislation that would make Spaceport Facility Bonds tax-exempt, in line with most airports and seaports.

The move aims to solidify America's position as a global leader in the new space economy.

And the move comes on the heels of the inclusion of the tax-exempt status for Spaceport Bonds by the US House of Representatives Select Committee on the strategic competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.

We'll be following this news closely as it moves through the federal government.

Firefly Aerospace held a ribbon-cutting in celebration of the company's rocket ranch in expansion in Briggs, Texas.

The company more than doubled the size of its manufacturing facilities, added two new test stands, and installed state-of-the-art machinery to support the production of Northrop Grumman's Antares 330 and the medium launch vehicle of the company's R-Co developing together.

The manufacturing space expanded from 92,000 to 207,000 square feet and includes two new large-scale buildings for rocket production, assembly, and integration.

The company also built a new higher thrust engine stand to test Firefly's Miranda and Vera engines with up to 230,000 pounds of thrust and five times the load capacity as Firefly's current reaver and lightning engine stand.

The expansion also includes a new 100-foot structural test stand to conduct pressurized axial loading to mimic flight loads.

In total, Firefly now has six test stands at its Briggs location to support the robust testing performed across all vehicle lines.

AAC Clyde Space's subsidiary AAC Space Africa has won its first satellite order.

AAC Space Africa will assemble, integrate, and test two satellites.

The order, valued at 4.1 million South African rands, approximately 213,000 US dollars, is scheduled for delivery in June 2024.

And UK Space Software Technology provider Bright Ascension and satellite bus provider Third Planet Orbital have signed a memorandum of understanding, fostering collaboration and development of joint capability.

The agreement commits the two companies to pool their expertise and resources in order to identify and pursue promising opportunities within the fast-growing new space industry.

Through this collaboration, Bright Ascension and Third Planet Orbital will form the foundations of a standardized integrated software and hardware platform.

And that concludes our briefing for today.

You'll find links to further reading on all the stories mentioned in our show notes.

And we've added a NASA update on the science currently being conducted on the ISS.

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Our guest today is Dr.

Natoki Ford, former Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

She spoke to T-Minus producer Alice Carouse about her organization, FlySci Enterprise, an education and media consulting organization focused on leveraging the power of storytelling to promote social change, especially in STEM fields.

I am such a huge proponent of the power of story.

I think we can all appreciate that you can spit out a bunch of facts to someone, but if you can tell a person a great story, something that they can connect with emotionally or inspire them in some way, you're much more likely to leave a lot, not only leave a lasting impression, but also have an impact and maybe even inspire someone to act in some way.

So I'm a definite believer and definitely want to use the data and support the stories and bolster the stories, but ultimately storytelling is universal across age, race, gender, and everybody loves a good story.

And the more we can use stories to broaden perspectives around certain topics to inspire our young people, to educate our policymakers, even I think storytelling has such a profound potential and has been leveraged.

It's not like this is something that's brand new, but it has been shown to be very effective in producing change.

So you mentioned a little bit there that you worked at the White House, and one of the projects you got to tell was the image of STEM.

Could you tell me a little bit about how you did storytelling and what that project was really about?

Yes, so I was so grateful and so honored to be able to essentially incubate this idea during what we call the fourth quarter Obama administration.

So it was like the last year of the administration and effectively what this project was all about was looking at how do we use media and storytelling to shift public perceptions of what is a STEM job and who should be doing STEM jobs.

Because as many of us know, we've had these pervasive issues with diversity.

This is not new.

It's been ongoing since the inception of these careers and these professions.

The approach that I took with the image of STEM is that I really wanted to focus specifically on entertainment media.

I think many times when people think of STEM in media, it's more overt science content where you're teaching someone a specific science concept or learning where you're trying to teach someone a specific thing.

But with the image of STEM project, it was more about thinking about STEM concepts as like product placement.

So it was a little bit more subtle approach.

And effectively what we were trying to do was sort of normalize certain things around the culture of STEM, the people who, you know, even though we do have these issues with underrepresentation, but we still have amazing women, people of color, people with disabilities who've been amazing innovators in the history and the story of STEM.

And actually, I was so fortunate around the same time as we were wrapping up the administration.

If you remember, the film Hidden Figures was coming out at that time.

So it was just such a beautiful alignment of exactly what the project was about.

And we had a chance to screen it at the White House.

I got to moderate a panel with the cast and creative team.

And then what we also saw was this sort of domino effect around the country.

You had little girls dressing up like the Hidden Figures for Halloween.

Barbie made a doll, a Catherine Johnson doll, you know, in her honor.

So it's just, again, you took a story that was actually based on real life and history and the effect and the impact that it had was truly incredible.

Yeah, there's definitely this argument of being able to see somebody who looks like you in the industry, inspiring the next generation, which I think is really important.

What more can people do to kind of create this more diverse and inclusive workforce?

You know, how should they be approaching this diversity subject matter?

Because it feels like such a behemoth thing to have to deal with.

We can think about this in a number of different ways.

You can think about it as an individual.

So you are a person who has a family or if you have people, the young people in your lives, you can think about the impacts that you can have with people that you have close proximity to.

So inspiring the young people around you to see themselves as little scientists or engineers.

So thinking about it, you don't have to be a scientist or an engineer to inspire someone to become one.

So I think each and every one of us thinking about ways that we can inspire people to see themselves as a part of this, or even just users, not just users of technology and science, but creators and just to also see how science is all around us.

So that's sort of the first phase.

It's like starting young, trying to inspire kids and sort of retain that natural curiosity that they already have and support them in it.

And then as we all sort of progress in our paths, I think the next thing that we can think about is from an institutional perspective.

And just to be candid with ourselves about, unfortunately, historically, STEM fields have sort of prided themselves in this idea of being exclusive.

It's a club that only a few people are so fortunate to be a part of.

There's only a few people who are intelligent enough, etc.

All these very damaging ideals and dated, frankly, ideals.

And so I think if we can have more candid conversations about how do we disrupt those sorts of ideas around the culture to make the idea of failure more normalized as a part of the process, I think what happened for me and my own story, I actually have a TEDx talk about my journey with imposter syndrome because I was always sort of the smart kid in school, did very well in college, got to grad school, I went to Harvard for my PhD program.

And it was this transition from, I was coming from an HBCU, which is Clark Atlanta University, coming to Harvard.

And it was really hard and a tremendous culture shock.

And it was the first time I ever really felt like school was hard.

And I took this cue of like, oh, this is hard.

This must mean I'm not meant to do this anymore.

I'm not good enough.

I'm not smart enough.

And in fact, that's not true.

And I think the reality is we tell these sort of fictitious stories, or we present these fictitious images around the pathways to STEM fields in terms of, oh, you just, you're born good at it.

You just coast through these programs and you never face difficulty or you never have challenges.

And in reality, that's not true.

Everybody who has to develop and cultivate a skill in any field has to struggle to some degree.

So I think normalizing this idea of failure and struggle and making it as more of an opportunity to grow and to see how it, you know, doesn't mean that you don't belong, but this is just an area to grow in.

So with that being said, that if we think about the cultural perspective in terms of education systems, normalizing failure, and then from even beyond that in the workplace, as well, being much more overt about the culture of these places that is not welcoming to people who are underrepresented, welcoming to women, welcoming to people of color or people with disabilities, etc.

When people talk about this issue of diversity, we talk about the STEM pipeline as being very leaky.

So we get people, you can start out as a young person interested, but then we just lose people at different intervals.

You can fall off in college, you can get a degree, and then you get to a job or a place that doesn't feel welcoming, and then you leave.

And so I think for us to really try to address this, as you said, very behemoth sort of massive size issue, we have to be intentional about addressing specific things.

And I think culture is going to be the thing that's cross cutting across everything.

And so creating spaces to have these candid conversations about the role of culture and about certain behaviors that happen in the workplace that can be very discouraging and very impactful in kind of the worst possible way in terms of how people are treated and how people are not being encouraged to be themselves.

But it's more so this idea, you have to fit into the kind of the boys club or you have to dress a certain way.

You don't wear makeup if you're a woman because you don't look like a girly girl.

Like all these sort of very narrow and small minded ideals that may seem harmless.

But you know, many of these things can accumulate over time and can be very detrimental to a person's perception about whether or not they belong.

And I think that's the goal we should ultimately work for is that we can create spaces, whether it's the classroom or the workplace, that people just feel like they belong in STEM.

I know one of the methods you've approached by doing that is by working with popular media, trying to get involved with children's television and getting representation.

Can you tell me a little bit more about what it is you've done with that?

Yes, absolutely.

I had a tremendous honor to serve as a science consultant for the, I'm going to brag a little bit, the Emmy winning Netflix series, Ada Twist Scientist, which centers around a little little black girl scientist and her two best friends as they just are curious about their environment and the adventures that they have in terms of asking questions about why things are the way that they are.

And it was really an honor to be sort of the person and not only help them make the science plausible, we always say we don't have to necessarily make it accurate.

We have to make it plausible.

So kind of the liberties we take in television, but also to help seed ideas for where we could infuse science into certain concepts.

So I was very grateful to be able to be a part of that series.

And also, shame was plugged.

I had a beautiful relationship with the amazing showrunner, Carrie Ann Grant, and she created a little Natoki character that appears in season four, episode 18.

And so truly an honor and it still feels a little bit surreal.

But but yeah, this show was just was really a beautiful example of, again, showing kids at a very young age, just like a preschool series, that you can be a scientist at eight, at five, at six, it's just really about being curious about the world that surrounds you and wanting to ask questions and then pursue answers.

Is there anything you wanted to address with our audience before we close out?

Maybe the final thought is to give names to things that I think I struggled with in my journey that I didn't know were, you know, actual phenomena until I learned about them.

So things like stereotype threat.

This was something I experienced when I got to graduate school, where it's a fear of conforming to a negative stereotype about your group.

And the way stereotype threat manifested in my life was, as you can probably tell, I'm, I can be fairly social.

I'm not really a quiet person.

But when I was in grad school, I was so afraid to speak in classes because I was like, I'm going to make a mistake.

I'm going to sound silly.

I'm going to misrepresent all of black people.

So it was really debilitating in terms of how this sort of narrative and this thing that I was experiencing.

And then on top of that, and I alluded to this a little bit, my struggles with imposter syndrome, which is this inability to internalize your accomplishments and this persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.

And this is something that is so common that so many people deal with silently, secretly, and they assume they're alone in it.

But it's actually incredibly common.

I think it's estimated to at least 70% of people will have an imposter experience at some point.

So all your listeners out there, if any of you are struggling with either of those things that I just mentioned, number one, know you're not alone.

Number two, know that these sort of things, this sort of negative thought process doesn't go away on its own and you have to be proactive in sort of addressing it.

But also know it's not just you because sometimes there are things in our environment, in our culture that sort of feed these negative thoughts and sort of the, I call it my inner haters when I get these like negative thoughts that tell me you're not good enough, don't even go for it.

So I would say be proactive in addressing those things because ultimately the world is only going to be served even more by you being able to overcome that because that's how you get to present and share the fullness of the gifts and all that you have to offer the world.

We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

When an object goes white hot as it enters Earth's atmosphere, we have a sense of what that looks like.

That streak through the sky is pretty spectacular.

But from the perspective of an object actually entering the Earth's atmosphere, or if it's a spacecraft re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, what does that look like?

And what does that sound like?

Well, now we know in high definition, it sounds a little bit like this.

So no need to adjust your audio.

It does just cut off like that.

Varda's space is Winnebago One was much delayed on its re-entry to Earth, landing in the Utah desert last week.

But when it came down, it had a high definition camera and microphone running during the entire re-entry process.

The company posted the full video of that re-entry on YouTube.

It is absolutely amazing to see the capsule starting with a view of the serene blueness of our planet.

And by the end of the video, it's in the Utah desert.

And we even see someone walking up to the capsule all in the span of just a half an hour.

That is some ludicrous speed.

That's it for T-minus for February 29, 2024.

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

We're 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.

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 Elliott Peltzman and Trey Hester with original music and sound design by Elliott Peltzman.

Our executive producer is Jen Ivan.

Our VP is Brandon Karp and I'm Maria Varmasas.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow. .




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