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NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 on route to the ISS.

Crew 8 launches to the ISS. Lockheed Martin offers to buy Terran Orbital. NASA shuts down the Maxar-led OSAM-1 project. And more.




NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 are currently on their way to the International Space Station, after they launched late last night from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Lockheed Martin’s makes a bid to acquire Terran Orbital for $600 million. NASA is shutting down a more than $2 billion project to test satellite servicing like fueling in space, citing higher costs and schedule delays, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Isabelle Mierau, Cofounder of the new Space Debris DAO. 

You can connect with Isabelle on LinkedIn and learn more about Space Debris DAO on their website.

Selected Reading

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 Launches to International Space Station

NASA Expedition 71 Astronauts to Conduct Research aboard Space Station

NASA Collects First Surface Science in Decades via Commercial Moon Mission

Microalgae converts CO2 to oxygen in Turkish space experiment - Daily Sabah

Lockheed Martin looks to acquire spacecraft maker Terran Orbital for nearly $600 million

NASA to discontinue $2 billion satellite servicing project on higher costs, schedule delays- Reuters

Contracts for March 1, 2024

Iridium to Expand its Reach as a Global Alternative PNT Service with Acquisition of Market Leader Satelles - Mar 4, 2024

SpaceX Transporter 10

MDA LTD. To Be Added To S&P/TSX Composite Index

Rivada Secures U.K. Market Access License

Webb Unlocks Secrets of One of the Most Distant Galaxies Ever Seen - NASA Science

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We're talking about the ISS Expedition Cruise today, and it got us thinking.

How many people have visited the International Space Station?

Well, thank you Search Engine results for these figures. 276 individuals representing 22 countries and 5 international partners have visited the International Space Station since November 2000.

Yes, over 23 years of continuous occupation for the International Space Station, it always blows our minds to think that anyone under the age of 23 has never been on the Earth with all living humans on the planet at the same time.

"T-minus 20 seconds to L-O-I speed risk, open aboard."

Today is March 4th, 2024.

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

Crew 8 launches to the ISS.

Lockheed Martin offers to buy Terran Orbital.

NASA shuts down the Maxar-led Osam-1 project.

And our guest today is Isabel Mirau, co-founder of the Space Debris, Dow.

They've just started their new loss and damage fund for low Earth orbit.

It's a really cool idea, so stick around for that chat later in the show.

Let's take a look at our Monday Intel Briefing, shall we?

And safe travels to Crew 8, currently on their way to the International Space Station, after they launched late last night from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Matthew Dominic, Michael Barrett, and Janet Epps, as well as Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Babenkin, lifted off via, uh, what else, a SpaceX Falcon 9 with a Dragon spacecraft atop.

The crew is expected to dock to the ISS early on Tuesday, and a few days afterward, the Dragon named Endeavour will take Crew 7 home.

Once Crew 8 arrives and settles in at the ISS, they'll be staying until sometime this fall and conducting about 200 scientific missions in the meantime.

Included amongst all those many missions are studies of neurological organoids, plant growth, and shifts in body fluids.

You can read all about those by following the link in our show notes.

And while we're on the topic of NASA and science, it's been a good week for science at the US Space Agency.

They've received data from the Intuitive Machines lunar lander.

And we should note it's the first time in more than 50 years that NASA was able to collect data from new science instruments and technology demonstrations on the moon.

The six payloads ceased science and technology operations eight days after landing in the lunar south pole region aboard Intuitive Machines Odysseus, thereby meeting pre-launch projected mission operations.

In all, the mission produced more than 500 megabytes of science technology and spacecraft data ready for analysis.

Half a gig ain't bad.

And staying with space-based science, Turkish researchers say they have proven that micro-algae can convert enriched carbon dioxide into oxygen in a microgravity environment.

The research was proven during the Micro-Algal Life Support Unit for Space Missions, or UZMAN Research Experiment, carried out in Turkey's first space mission to the ISS earlier this year.

Samples from the experiment reached Earth last week and were conducted by Alper Geziravşeh, the first Turkish astronaut during his work in the International Space Station.

We're going over to some big contract news now, and we're starting with Lockheed Martin's bid to acquire Terran Orbital.

The non-binding proposal would see Lockheed acquire Terran Orbital's outstanding common stock at a dollar a share in cash, as well as pay $70 million for Terran's outstanding warrants, and also assume the company's $313 million in outstanding debt.

Together, the offer values Terran Orbital at just below $600 million.

We should note the spacecraft manufacturer went public in 2022 at a $1.8 billion valuation.

That is quite a steep decline.

And some big contract news also dropped late last Friday, with NASA saying that it's shutting down a more than $2 billion project to test satellite servicing like fueling in space, creating higher costs and scheduling delays.

The On-Orbit Servicing Assembly in Manufacturing One, or OSAM One project, had faced increased costs and was audited last October.

Subsequently, the audit blamed the contractor Maxar for a poor performance.

NASA cited its reason for closing the program as "continued technical cost and schedule challenges and a broader community evolution away from refueling unprepared spacecraft, which has led to a lack of a committed partner."

Boeing has been awarded a nearly $440 million contract modification to a previously awarded contract for the production and launch of wide-band global satellite communications, Space Vehicle 12.

Space Systems Command is the branch behind the contracting activity.

The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to over $3.095 billion, but who's counting?

The work will be performed in California and is expected to be completed by January 31, 2029.

Fiscal Year 2023 Space Force procurement funds are being obligated at time of award.

As we record early in the afternoon on the East Coast, we are a little ahead of today's news.

So, soon after our normal time of publishing, SpaceX is expected to launch its Transporter 10 ride-share mission from California.

The Falcon 9 is carrying dozens of payloads to low Earth orbit, including over 40 satellites.

We will dive into that mission on tomorrow's program, assuming that it launches as scheduled.

And that concludes our intelligence briefing for today.

As always, you'll find links in our show notes to further reading on any of the headlines that we've mentioned in the show.

And we've also added in the show notes links to read about MDA's moves towards becoming publicly traded and an announcement for RIVADA on receiving a license to provide communication services in Great Britain.

Those links and more can be found on our website, space.ntuk.com, and just click on this episode title.

Hey T-minus crew, every Monday we produce a written intelligence roundup.

It's called Signals and Space.

So if you happen to miss any T-minus episodes, this strategic intelligence product will get you up to speed in the fastest way possible.

It's all signal, no noise.

You can sign up for signals and space in our show notes or at space.ntuk.com.

Our guest today is Isabel Mierau, co-founder of the Space Debris Dow.

Space Debris Dow is a decentralized loss and damage fund for low earth orbit.

And I started by asking Isabel first to tell us a bit about her background.

So I studied psychology and sociology my bachelor's, right?

So it's very different from space.

But I was always fascinated of our interaction with nature or the humans and our relation to the universe basically.

So I first studied human relations, but I was always active with environmental organizations while I studied.

And I realized rather than focusing on becoming a therapist, I want to learn more about society and how humans interact with each other.

So I did a master or studied a master for two years in international relations and peace and conflict research.

And while studying, I kept being active as an activist on the meanwhile.

So I was also active in search and rescue missions at the borders of Europe.

I've been volunteering in emergency response for some time.

And eventually I quit my masters to co-found the Institute for Legal Transformation together with Dr.

Abiyah Haddad.

And we did this two years ago, more or less.

And we focused on all the emerging governments challenges we are facing today, starting with AI and blockchain, health technology, all these emerging topics.

And space law became one of these topics that really fascinated me.

That's fantastic.

Yeah, I was looking at your background.

I'm going, that must have been a really interesting path to get to space because especially space debris, that is such a challenging international problem.

And I was curious if your knowledge of human psychology and also just how people work helps give you an additional insight into, I suppose, incentivizing a solution here, which has been such a problem.

And it's been a difficult situation for people to try and figure out how to fix this.

So I was curious that that sort of informed your mission.

Yeah, I really like to see society as a system, right?

And to observe the dynamics we have, also the economic system we have on Earth.

And when I think about space, I really think of a blank space, right?

I think of it as a blank canvas, which is still being shaped.

And I wonder if we will replicate or improve our systems from Earth.

And I believe it's a great opportunity to grow and learn and solve a lot of the issues we have made in the systems we build on Earth, which are now too rigid to change, you know, and climate change and all these issues on Earth.

We are kind of stuck in many, many ways.

But in space, I feel like we got a brand-new chance to come together and develop better systems and better solutions.

And that's what really fascinates me about it.

That's fantastic.

It's a great segue into, tell me more about what you all are building with the Space Dow and your approach.

Yeah, so Space Debris Dow is a decentralized and damage fund for the Lower Earth Orbit.

What we want to do is we want to kind of pool the risks in the Lower Earth Orbit and kind of pay the debris damages by the fund covered through annual fees, but in order to benefit from the fund, satellite operators have to comply with certain sustainability standards.

We aim to reduce the overall risks in the Lower Earth Orbit because we say, "Hey, if you want to have your risks and damages covered, we have to comply with those standards and help to contribute to making you all more safe.

So there will be less risks, there will be less costs, so we can give those rewards to our members."

That's a horrible idea.

I can understand that.


There are a lot of things on your website that were really interesting to me, as you probably noticed, I'd like to look at everyone's websites.

There was a phrase that said something about bridging gaps of trust in space governance, which I thought was really interesting.

Also, further down the page, it explains your use of the blockchain here.

I'm sort of wondering if you could explain a little bit about that gaps of trust in space governance, sort of what you mean by that, and then maybe how blockchain comes into addressing that.

For me, coming from the background of international relations and knowing that space has a big military background, I thought, "Okay, when we want to address those issues and we want to address the collaboration, we have to be aware of the environment we are dealing with."

And there is obviously a huge dual use challenge, whereas there is the history of how space exploration emerged, because it was always about this competition starting on the Cold War, and then we always had this fear of the recognizing of space and all these things.

So there's obviously a lot of hesitation also in collaboration, because that's always the defense background present.

And there is confidentiality issues, sensitive information that people don't want to share with each other.

So there is obvious gaps of trust, especially in space.

And despite this, we need the collaboration to move on.

And also the military face initially, I think, is not that present anymore.

It's still present, but there are other agencies and actors coming and also overriding some of these established actors and situations there.

Space agencies now, then the billionaires came, then we have startups.

So it's getting a lot more diversified.

So I think collaboration is possible now, also beyond borders.

But I think we need the right tools for this to enable this collaboration.

And I think blockchain is great because it's a technology that is per nature, decentralized.

So it's not that an Indian company has to trust American servers or any way, but the data and everything is decentralized.

So there is no one single actor who has to control over the databases, the whole network.

I think that's very important, looking from the very base of collaboration, because you have to trust the system you're dealing with.

So I think that's a great opportunity to bridge those gaps.

Then also you have the transparency part that everyone has the same code.

You can always check.

You don't need to trust the system, but you have to trust your own experts that they check the smart contracts.

You know, you have to have your own knowledge and your own experts who can tell you whether or not you can trust that code, basically.

And I think that's maybe more safe for some people than just trusting the person who's managing the system.

So in this way, our clients or we have a strong network, they won't even have to trust us.

Personally, they just have to trust the code and what's written there because it's self-executing rules and contracts.

So there is not this risk of malicious manipulation from a single entity.

I think it's such a fascinating approach because space debris, there are a lot of different entities trying to figure out if a punitive measure or an incentive, something, they're trying to figure out ways to see something happen that's really substantive here, aside from just the usual, hey, it's a problem.

Someone needs to do something about it someday.

And your approach is really different from a lot of other approaches that I've seen.

And I'm just, I'm so fascinated by the ideas here.

I'm curious, just sort of your thoughts on what other approaches people have tried, why those have not worked and why your approach, it makes more sense.

So speaking about systems again, I think you have to understand why there is an issue of sustainability in the first place and what has been the issue on earth as well.

And I think a lot of times sustainability isn't expand as a liability, it's not profitable.

But in order to be successful or to have a project working and running as a, being a sustainable as a business for the long term, you have to make money and test to be financially viable.

So I think we have to kind of align the ecological or sustainable viability and the economic viability to make things work because I don't think it's like CEOs or companies saying we don't want to be sustainable, especially in space because it's in their interest to keep space accessible to maintain their business models there.

So I think there's even the bigger question, bigger pressure to really achieve sustainable economies.

But I think the issue was always that it's like either sustainability or profitability.

And then obviously from a commercial perspective, actors had to prioritize the short term financial part and not the sustainability part.

I think that's something that we need to solve in order to really shape a sustainable economy.

That makes sense.


So I'd love to know about sort of your future view as the space to read out grows.

What do you hope to see in terms of the participants and also just the space industry in general?

Yeah, I mean, we're just studying, right?

But so far the feedback has been really great.

That's also where I really decided to do this in the end.

So I was thinking about this for like half a year and talking to people, but in the beginning I didn't really think I would actually do it, right?

Because I'm not from the space industry.

I was like, you know, I would just kind of discovering this topic and didn't imagine that I would actually start doing something there.

But the feedback was like so great that I was like, okay, let's give it a try and see what happens.

So now we are like, I'm the incubator in Berlin and we are talking to accelerator programs and we have partners, the first partnerships of people who want to contribute and join and do things together with us.

We hope to see more of this.

So that's also something very open for collaborations in the industry.

Definitely hope to get satellite operators who say they want to join the loss and damage fund.

We are also open to work with satellite insurers.

We're also in touch with some already and to hope to onboard them as well because in this way the loss and damage fund is not insurance.

It is a decentralized fund, right?

But I think to collaborate with satellite insurers would be great because I know they had like a pretty intense year in 2023 with like higher claims than they got in the premiums and a lot of them actually left the markets.

There are not so many left anyway.

So I think there's something also in need for collaboration.

So I hope that we can make some of those happen.

That's fantastic.

Well, Isabel, I think being from outside space, so to speak, is a benefit honestly because these problems require new ideas and new perspectives.

So I think that's honestly, it's in your favor.

So I think that's really great.

Thank you so much for telling me all about your work.

I wish you all the best as you continue to ramp.

I really hope that people, they're excited about something.

They just keep learning and talking about it.

That's what they will always help me a lot and to develop ideas and make them better.

And also people are open to collaborate and want to engage with us.

We will be open for any conversation.

So be free to reach out on LinkedIn or anything and I'm happy to meet you. .

We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

So it's been a bit since we checked in on the latest from the web space telescope and the discoveries continue at pace.

So let's see what's new.

What's that you say?

We're learning more about a vigorous black hole that is the most distant galaxy that's ever been seen.

Yeah, okay, let's dig into that.

The galaxy GnZ 11 was first spotted with Hubble in 2016 and it got the attention of astronomers because it is so unbelievably bright.

GnZ 11 was born when the entire universe was a mere newborn babe of only 430 million years old.

Being very, very old and bright isn't all there is to GnZ 11 though as two pieces of research one published in astronomy and astrophysics and the other in nature used web to take a closer look at it.

And the new research says it looks like GnZ 11 has a supermassive black hole at its center that is gobbling matter.

And by the way, that is a quote from the principal investigator Roberto Maileo of the Cavendish Laboratory and the Cavalry Institute of Cosmology at the University of Cambridge United Kingdom.

So there you go.

Okay, so a vigorously accreting supermassive black hole that is gobbling matter.

All right, but what else is interesting about GnZ 11?

Well, it has a very pristine clump in its halo, thank you very much, almost entirely just helium and some hydrogen.

Astronomers believe pristine clumps of gas like this are leftovers from the Big Bang directly.


Well, generally you'll also find elements heavier than helium and gas clumps as those heavier elements are literal star stuff.

But the very first stars formed after the Big Bang would be formed entirely with just helium and hydrogen and not much else.

These kinds of special stars are called population three stars and they are highly sought after by astronomers today.

So this pristine clump of helium in the GnZ 11 halo might just be the predecessor to that coveted astronomical prize, a population three star.

Yet again, web helping us better understand the foundation and formation of our universe.

No biggie.

That's it for T-minus for March 4th, 2024.

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

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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 Karp, and I'm Maria Varmausus.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow.

[Music] T-minus.


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