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Pay heed to ITAR warnings.

Boeing hit with a $51M civil penalty. The US Congress passes another continuing resolution for budgets. SpaceX Crew-8 launch delayed by weather. And more.




The US Department of State has concluded an administrative settlement with The Boeing Company to resolve 199 violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. High winds and rough seas in the Atlantic have pushed back the launch of SpaceX Crew-8 Saturday at 11.16pm local time at the earliest, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Robert Kurson, author of Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon. The US Congress passing a Continuing Resolution which extends the deadlines for passing the FY2024 appropriations bills further into March.

You can learn more about Robert Kurson’s novels on his website.

Selected Reading

U.S. Department of State Concludes $51 Million Settlement Resolving Export Violations by The Boeing Company

Boeing in talks to buy supplier Spirit AeroSystems, WSJ reports- Reuters

Congress Clears New CR, Punting Shutdown Threat Further Into March – SpacePolicyOnline.com


NewsSpace ground tracking program to reach key milestone

NASA delays space station crew rotation flight, makes way for SpaceX Starlink launch - CBS 

IM-1 | Intuitive Machines

Sidus Space Announces Pricing of Public Offering | Business Wire

NASA Selects ACMI as Second Approved Exploration Park Facility

UK and France to deepen research and AI links following Horizon association - GOV.UK

Funding boost to grow Aussie space sector

Former NASA Administrator Richard Truly Passes Away – SpacePolicyOnline.com


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Well, I've got a fun fact for you this Friday, Maria.

All right, Alice, lay it on me.

Yesterday was the first ever launch on a leap day from the US.

Russia, China and Japan have launched on leap days, which of course only comes around every four years, and Elspaces is Falcon 9 joins that elite group.

Pretty cool, right?

That is pretty nifty, yep.

And I've got a joke for you.

Are you ready?

As always, I am girding my loins.

Okay, what do you call a lazy person in space?

A lazy person in space.

Oh my God, I have no idea.

No clue.

A procrastinate.

I feel like that should be my username on some early 2000s web forum.

That's great.

I love that.

Today is March 1st, 2024.

I'm Maria Varmasas.

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

Boeing hit with a $51 million civil penalty.

The US Congress passes another continuing resolution for budgets.

SpaceX threw eight launch delayed by weather.

And our guest today is Robert Kersen, author of The Rocket Men, the daring odyssey of Apollo 8 and the astronauts who made man's first journey to the moon.

We say it every week, but this really is an amazing interview, so stay with us for the teaser later on.

And now for our Friday Intel briefing.

For many of us in the space industry, the battle with ITAR is a difficult one.

ITAR, which refers to the international traffic and arms regulations, is a set of US government regulations that control the import and export of defense products.

The purpose of ITAR is to safeguard national security and to further American foreign policy interests.

It also covers a lot of the space industry, and when you want to look to partner with international organizations, launch overseas or hire a workforce from outside of the US to work on US engineered products.

Well, it can be a bit of a pitfall.

So it also comes with a large deterrent, a fine of up to $1 million and 10 years in prison if you are caught violating it.

So imagine if a large corporation is caught violating ITAR along with the Arms Export Control Act.

Well, the US Department of State has concluded an administrative settlement with the Boeing Company to resolve 199 violations, and Boeing has been slapped with a civil penalty of $51 million.

Now, the State Department has agreed to suspend $24 million of this amount on the condition that the funds will be used for the department-approved Consent Agreement Remedial Compliance Measures to strengthen Boeing's compliance program.

In addition, for an initial period of at least 24 months, Boeing will engage an external Special Compliance Officer to oversee the Consent Agreement, which will also require two external audits of its ITAR compliance program and implement additional compliance measures.

We share this news as a warning to all the space companies that wrestle with ITAR.

Those fines may be small for a corporation like Boeing, but we can see it having a much bigger impact for smaller space companies.

And staying with Boeing, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the aerospace giant is in talks to buy spirit aero systems.

A merger would bring spirit back under the umbrella of Boeing, which spun off in 2005, and in recent years has struggled with persistent problems of slowed-down aircraft deliveries and thinned its balance sheet.

Spirit also supplies many space companies.

We will see if this report comes to fruition in the coming weeks.

Stick a Band-Aid on it.

Seems to be the approach of the US Congress when it comes to deciding on a budget.

We're not going to dig into the weeds on the wise.

You can visit any mainstream media program for their opinion on that.

But the continuing resolution, which extends the deadlines for passing the financial year 2024 appropriations bills further into March, does have a knock-on effect to many space programs.

The House also passed an extension of the FAA's authorization, including extending the learning period prohibition on new commercial human space flight regulations until May.

For legislation called continuing resolution, it doesn't actually resolve many issues for NASA or the DOD who are waiting for funding for new programs.

I'm sure we'll be having this conversation again in a few more weeks, or maybe we'll just replay this audio.


Now, AFWORKS, the US Air Force Investment Group, closed the Defence Ventures program last month.

Defence Ventures identified emerging innovations from the Department of Defence and facilitated industry immersions at venture capital firms, incubators and startups across the United States.

The knock-on effect of the closure has caused the end to shift, which ran the program with AFWORKS.

It's unclear if the program was closed due to budget restraints or due to directional changes in the innovation branch.

The US Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office have been jointly managing an effort to deliver space-based ground-moving target indicators.

That can track and monitor moving objects of interest on the ground in near real-time.

It's facing an uncertain future due to the continuing resolution in the US causing budget restraints.

The program is due to reach a critical milestone in the coming weeks, allowing the program to begin engineering and manufacturing development.

Frank Calvelli, Air Force Space Acquisition Chief, told the NSSA Defense and Intelligence Space Conference this week that, quote, "If we don't get the budget passed, we are stuck in a continuing resolution.

We can't do much with that program this year."

We were expecting the SpaceX Crew 8 to lift off from Florida today, but high winds and rough seas in the Atlantic have pushed back the launch to Saturday at 11.16pm local time at the earliest.

Crew 8 is the eighth crew rotation mission of SpaceX's human space transportation system, and it's the ninth flight with astronauts through the International Space Station through NASA's Commercial Crew program.

We said good night to the Intuitive Machines lunar lander Odysseus late yesterday as it powered down ahead of two weeks of lunar night.

The lunar vehicle completed a fitting farewell transmission, sending an incredible image of the lunar surface back to Earth.

It's not yet known if the spacecraft will survive the lunar night.

Intuitive Machines shared the message, "Good night, Odie.

We hope to hear from you again."

Yeah, we do.

Wake up, Odie, please!

Sider Space has announced the pricing of an underwritten public offering of 1,321,000 shares of its Class A common stock.

Each share of Class A common stock is being sold at a public offering price of $6 per share for gross proceeds of approximately $7.9 million before deducting underwriting discounts and offering expenses.

All the shares of common stock are being offered by the company.

Shares of Sider Space slid more than 30% in pre-market trading this morning after the space as a service company said it was raising more money in a dilutive public offering.

NASA and the American Center for Manufacturing and Innovation, known as ACMI or maybe ACME, have signed an agreement to lease underutilized land in a 240-acre exploration park at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

ACMI will lead the development of facilities to enable commercial and defense space manufacturing.

The company plans to incorporate an applied research facility partnered with multiple stakeholders across academia, state and local government, the Department of Defense, and regional economic development organizations.

The agreement is the second such public-private lease agreement to allow industry and academia to use NASA/Johnson land to create facilities for a collaborative development.

Over to Europe now, the UK and France have announced new funding to boost research collaboration and partnerships to further global AI safety.

As part of the partnership, a French-British Joint Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation has also been formed.

The committee represents a unique opportunity to bring key influencers from across both countries' research sectors together to work on shared and promising opportunities for R&D teamwork from low-carbon hydrogen and space observation to AI and research security.

And over to Australia now, and 12 new space projects are being supported by the Australian government that will build capability in the local sector, as well as respond to key challenges and opportunities like climate change.

More than $9 million has been awarded to projects which align with NASA's Artemis program, helping Australian organizations to deliver products and services into global space supply chains.

That's all the headlines we have for you today.

Follow the links in the selected reading section of our show notes to dive deeper into any of the stories that we've mentioned in the show.

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.

And tomorrow we have Robert Kersen talking about his book, Rocket Men, the daring odyssey of Apollo 8 and the astronauts who made man's first journey to the moon.

Check it out while you're walking the dog, cooking dinner, or driving your kids to soccer practice like Alice.

You don't want to miss it.

[Music] Our guest today is Robert Kersen, author of Rocket Men, the daring odyssey of Apollo 8 and the astronauts who made man's first journey to the moon.

And I started off by asking Robert what inspired him to write about Apollo 8.

You know, for me, any story is really first and foremost about the people involved.

And even though this was, in my opinion, one of the greatest stories in the history of mankind, and I'm not trying to be, you know, overblown about it or anything, but I truly think it is, even then getting to the personal stories of the people involved was really the most important thing to me.

And it was my great, great fortune that all three of the crew of Apollo 8 were living when I undertook this project and were eager to participate with me.

And even more than that, they welcomed me into their homes and families and made me feel like I was part of the story.

I mean, they took me back 50 years with them and kind of put me in the command module with them, but not just in the command module, but in their homes.

And the opportunity to get to know them truly as human beings, even before I got to know them as astronauts, and just as importantly, to know their families, their wives and their children, really made the story come to life for me and filled in every bit of what is, as I said, I think one of the greatest stories in our history.

That humanity is so compelling in the book.

To me, I've looked at the body of your work and so much of it focuses on these extraordinary stories.

And in the case of Rocket Men, you do find the truly human in them.

And also in their wives, the story of their wives woven throughout, not a lot of attention is paid to those relationships and how they often inform these extraordinary people.

And I really love how much you brought in the wives experiences.

I know that they're not the stars of the show and we talk about Apollo 8 necessarily, but it informs so much of how much I personally connected with the story.

Just I can relate a lot more to the wives than I can to these extraordinary men who've been around the moon.

And I just love how much color that gave the story.

I'm sorry, I'm fangirling a little bit, but I just, I found that really just amazing that you got to know them over so much time.

And that just must have been incredible.

Well, thanks Maria.

The interesting thing, I'm kind of embarrassed to say that when I first went into the project, I was so excited about the idea of this journey, which was really humankind's first ever journey away from home and our first arrival at a new world, our most ancient companion, the moon.

I was so taken with that that I didn't really pay much attention to the idea of the wives and the children.

But as soon as I met the astronauts, not one of the three could describe the success of his mission or the success of his life without constantly referring to his wife.

And I found it fascinating early on to discover that the crew of Apollo 8, when I first discovered the story, and I discovered it by accident, that was wandering around the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which is my home.

And I was showing friends a U-boat there that is the exact model of a U-boat I wrote about in my first book, Shadow Divers.

So I wasn't there to see anything space related.

I was there to see a submarine.

But it's very, very difficult to find your way out of this glorious museum of science and industry in Chicago.

And I took a wrong turn at you and found myself in the Henry Crown Space Center.

And there was this spacecraft.

And I looked at it and it said, "This is the Command Module Apollo 8, which made mankind's first journey to the moon."

And that thrilled me so much.

I just couldn't believe that I'd never heard of Apollo 8.

You know, I knew about Apollo 11, like everyone in Apollo 13, because I'd watched the movie.

But I thought, if this is true, this is perhaps the best story of them all.

And I raced home and did my research.

I was so thrilled, Maria, and I couldn't get over this idea.

But as I started to get into the story, I realized that the year that this mission took place, 1968, was a character all of its own and a story all its own.

And as I read further and reflected on it, I realized that one could make a very serious argument that 1968 was the single worst year in American history.

You could probably pull some Civil War years and some other war years.

But in terms of what was going on in this country, it might not have a parallel.

You had the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

You had racial strife and social strife all over the place.

There were terrible class divisions.

There were riots in the streets.

It seemed when Apollo 8 was ready to launch that nothing could bring this country together, that it was irretrievably and maybe even fatally torn apart.

And that is the backdrop for this incredible mission and not just a mission that flew on any random time in 1968, but flew in the very last days of 1968 and had as its plan to orbit the moon on Christmas Eve.

And so that alone started to make me think, my gosh, what a backdrop to this incredibly exciting story.

It's as if it weren't exciting enough just on its own terms.

Here they were going to go, and probably not probably, on the by far the most dangerous space mission of them all at great, great risk to these three astronauts and to the space program in general and perhaps to our part in the space race in the Cold War.

So much was at stake, but the year and the country itself were at stake too.

So this exciting story, this idea that sent me speeding home from the museum just kept getting layered and layered with a bigger and more dramatic foundation.

I can just imagine that moment in my head.

I can absolutely see that.

And I think it's such an interesting point that you mentioned that a lot of people don't know about Apollo 8.

It seems like a shame, and especially after all this work you've done writing this incredible book, why do you think that is that Apollo 8 isn't more well known?

Well I think that certainly Apollo 11 overshadowed it.

So I was born in 1963, so I'm too young to remember Apollo 8, but I do remember the later Apollo missions because in grade school they would wheel in these small black and white TVs and we would watch.

And the whole idea was you walked on the moon and you had these images of the men hopping in very low gravity.

And it was so romantic to see, and everything seemed to be about who stepped on the moon.

We all knew the names Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

Yet very few people, especially kids, knew the name Mike Collins.

So it really was about setting foot on the moon.

And then later on, of course, there was such a drama in the Apollo 13 mission followed by this very fantastic and dramatic film that that brought Apollo 13 to wider attention.

But you have to remember that in 1968 there was no bigger story in the world than Apollo 8.

So at that point, Apollo 8 launched.

Time magazine, they launched on December 21st.

At that point, Time magazine had already decided on the dissenter as its man of the year, the dissenter.

That tells you what's going on in the country.

By the time Apollo 8 splashed down six and a half days later, they had changed to the crew of Apollo 8.

That is an honor that Time magazine did not even bestow on the crew of Apollo 11.

So we knew back then what Apollo 8 meant.

But it somehow seemed to get lost in the adventure of Apollo 11 and then Apollo 13.

When I started work on the book, I kept telling myself, I might be crazy, but I think this is not just the greatest space story of them all.

I think this is one of the greatest exploration stories ever.

To me, it was Homeric in its scope.

It was an odyssey for our time.

But I kept thinking, well, maybe I just have a big imagination.

Maybe I'm blowing it out of proportion.

But then I started to watch interviews with the other Apollo astronauts, the non-Apolliate astronauts.

And almost to a man, they described Apollo 8 as the greatest and most daring and most important mission of them all.

You watch interviews with Neil Armstrong, who was on the backup crew for Apollo 8, and he confirms it.

I spoke to Mike Collins, and he confirms.

And so risk, the danger.

They were the true pioneers.

As Neil Armstrong said, everything we needed to know about going to the moon and landing on the moon was known by the time we went save for the landing itself.

But when Apollo 8 went, nobody knew anything.

It was rushed to the launch.

They planned this mission in four months.

It was crazy.

Your book drives that home so well.

It's one of those things that one can understand intellectually, but when you read it, especially as you've laid it out, it really, it's just crazy how fast that was.


It would take NASA normally dedicated 12 to 18 months to plan for a mission.

This was done in four months.

Frank Borman, the commander of Apollo 8, told me that normally it would take several months to work out a flight plan.

They were under such duress to get to the launch pad in late 1968.

And remember, it's all about beating the Soviets to the moon.

That's everything.

That's a key that will win the space race and it's a key to going on and winning the Cold War.

So they have to get there and they have to beat the Soviets.

So he tells me, normally, we iron out a flight plan in months.

They went into a room and in one day made the flight plan for Apollo 8.

And remember this, Maria, at this point, they're going to fly on the Saturn V, right?

The Saturn V rocket.

It's the only rocket powerful enough to launch a crew into orbit and on the way to the moon.

But when Apollo 8 was on the launch pad, the Saturn V had only flown twice before, both times in unmanned tests, the second of which had failed catastrophically.

So now they're strapping three human beings who have wives and children onto this 363-foot tall rocket.

That's never flown with humans aboard.

Only flown twice anyway, the second time from a catastrophic failure.

By the way, the Saturn V remains as you and I speak right now in 2024, the most powerful machine ever built.

And yet it was virtually untested.

And here they go.

And a flight plan worked out in a day and a mission worked out in just four months.

We'll be sharing my full conversation with Robert tomorrow for our Deep Space episode.

You'll want to hear it when we discuss the most iconic image in space history, Earthrise.

We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

So, Alice, I have a question for you.

Worm or meatball?

Oh, it's a really tough one, isn't it?

I think meatball.

What about you?

I am solidly in camp worm.

I'm in the worm camp.

And we're pretty certain that you know exactly what we're referring to.

But for those of you who don't, and you haven't heard of the fun nicknames for the NASA logos, we're talking about the preference between the two different designs.

The meatball is a traditional NASA circular logo that we often see on merchandise.

But the worm, which is a reference to the curvy NASA design that just features the agency's name, was introduced in 1975 and makes sporadic appearances.

In fact, it surprised many a space design fan that the space agency has selected the worm to appear on the SLS boosters for Artemis II.

My fellow Wormies rejoice.

Even the agency has released the video of the worm being painted onto the booster motor segments.

That will form the space launch system, Rocket's twin solid rocket boosters, for the first mission to return humans to the moon since 1972.

It's a fun little video, and we pose this question to you.

What's your preference?

You can email your answers and your strong opinions, I'm sure, at space@ntuk.com.

That's all for Team Miners for March 1, 2024.

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

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Learn more at NTK.com.

And this episode was produced by Alice Karuth, 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 Varmazes.

Thanks for listening.

Have a fantastic weekend.


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