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Biopharma sees space returns.

Redwire and Eli Lilly announce a second spaceflight mission. NASA explains its $25 billion FY25 budget request. Welcome home to Crew 7. And more.




Redwire Corporation and Eli Lilly announce a second spaceflight mission to conduct research on chronic diseases in microgravity. NASA has requested $25.384 billion for the 2025 fiscal year, the exact amount it received in fiscal year 2023. Crew 7 astronauts splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida early this morning, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Steve Gizinski, Managing Director of Viasat Government Services. 

You can connect with Steve on LinkedIn and learn more about Viasat government services on their website.

Selected Reading

Redwire Partners with Eli Lilly and Company on Second Spaceflight Mission to Conduct Additional Research on Chronic Diseases Following Successful Results- Business Wire

FY 2025 Budget Request - NASA

Space Force prioritizes missile warning, tracking satellites in fiscal 2025 budget- DefenseScoop

NASA Welcomes Crew-7’s Return to Earth After Safely Splashing Down

Sierra Space Axelerator™ Unveiled: Pioneering the Future of Defense Technology with Groundbreaking Innovations- Business Wire

NASA Awards Environmental, Safety, Health, Mission Assurance Contract

Lumen Orbit emerges from stealth and raises $2.4M to put data centers in space

Simera Sense, world leader in Earth observation optical imaging solutions, raises €13.5m in growth investment round

Call for Memoranda: Draft Kenya Space Bill 2024

Varda Hopes New Research Draws More Drugmakers to Space Factories - WSJ

Umer Khan Joins Relativity Space As CIO And SVP Of Software

Delta IV Heavy NROL-70

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Space fans, I don't have to tell you that space has provided incredible things for us here on planet Earth.

Beyond the communication satellites, climate monitoring, GPS, and much more, we're moving into the exciting phase of science research that is outside of the traditional space industry.

Take biopharmaceuticals.

Over the last 20 years, we've seen genetic studies, artificial organs harvested in microgravity, and cancer research to name a few.

And although we've not had a marketed drug invented in space yet, that seems to be a matter of time.

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

Today is March 12th, 2024.

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

Redwire and Eli Lilly announce a second spaceflight mission.

NASA explains its $25 billion budget request for fiscal year 2025.

Crew 7 splashes down safely off the coast of Florida.

And our guest today is Steve Gizenski, managing director of Viasat Government Services.

We're going to be discussing network upgrades to enhance maritime communications.

Stay with us.

We start today's Intel briefing with a partnership announcement, which is set to prove the value of microgravity research in biopharmaceuticals.

Redwire Corporation is partnering with Eli Lilly on a second spaceflight mission using its in-space pharmaceutical manufacturing platform.

During the second mission, Lilly researchers will aim to discover novel medicines which can be used against chronic diseases.

The first mission between Redwire and Lilly demonstrated that microgravity benefited insulin crystal growth.

For the next mission, Lilly researchers aim to expand their understanding of crystal formations and how they impact overall drug discovery and development.

There are many advantages of crystallizing valuable protein-based drugs in microgravity.

For one thing, proteins are complicated molecules that are difficult to produce in their crystal form.

Without gravity, fluid convection lessens.

The molecules move more slowly and temperature can be more precisely controlled.

A perfect storm, so to speak, for creating crystals for medicines in orbit.

Redwire and Lilly's PIL02 experiment will launch onboard SpaceX's 30th cargo resupply services mission called SPX-30 for NASA to the International Space Station, and that's all planned for later this month.

And in yesterday's show, we shared a little bit of NASA Administrator Bill Nelson's speech on the state of the space agency.

The presentation follows the administration's request for the next fiscal year's budget.

It's been a point of contention to put it mildly here in the United States for the last few months as political infighting has caused delays to the current fiscal year's budget, causing NASA to postpone and even cancel some programs.

NASA has requested $25.384 billion for the next year.

That is the exact amount it received in 2023.

Administrator Nelson says the budget constraints are due to the debt-sealing agreement enacted last year, which placed caps on non-defense discretionary spending, which includes NASA for fiscal years 2024 and 2025.

And speaking of budget requests, the US Space Force has outlined its budget for fiscal year 2025, and it includes $4.7 billion to begin work on its proliferated space-based architecture of missile warning and tracking satellites.

The funds would be divided among several different efforts, including $2.1 billion for next-generation overhead for consistent infrared programs, and $2.6 billion for other missile warning and tracking capabilities.

The military branch's budget includes $18.7 billion for R&D out of the overall $29.4 billion requested.

Now, I'm sure you were as nervous as I was about the splashdown of the Dragon capsule after the discovery of a crack in the hatch ahead of the launch last week.

Thankfully, we can all let out a collective sigh of relief as Crew 7's return from the ISS in aforementioned capsule was flawless.

NASA astronaut Jasmine Mugbelli, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida early this morning.


The crew completed a six-month science mission aboard the International Space Station.

Welcome, home all!

Sierra Space has announced the launch of Sierra Space Accelerator Incubator, and that's Accelerator with an X, by the way, and it's designed to fast-track the development of revolutionary defense technologies and mission solutions.

The Accelerator Incubator is part of Sierra Space's Orbital Missions and Services Group, founded in 2023 to focus on new national security solutions.

The company has unveiled three new products that they claim will contribute to the defense sector with technologies that will shape the future for decades to come.

NASA has awarded a contract for environmental safety, health, and mission assurance with a maximum value of approximately $125.4 million to Bastian Technologies.

Bastian will provide services in four broad technical areas, including environmental, institutional operational safety, occupational health, aeronautics and space systems, and ground support equipment mission assurance.

The performance period is from May 1, 2024 to April 30, 2029.

Space Data Processing Company LumenOrbit has emerged from stealth mode and has closed a $2.4 million pre-seed investment round.

LumenOrbit plans to put hundreds of satellites in orbit with the goal of processing data in space before it's downlinked to customers on Earth.

The company's first satellite demonstrator is due to launch in May 2025 as a ride-share payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Optical imaging company CimeraSense has raised 13.5 million euros in their first investment round.

The Belgium-based company offers high-resolution cameras for the global small satellite industry.

Cimera says that it will use the capital to strengthen its production and develop onboard data processing for all its products.

The Kenya Space Agency is developing a draft Kenya Space Bill 2024.

The bill aims to guide the space sector in harnessing the potential of space science and technology while adhering to international space law and promoting global best practices.

The space agency is seeking public input on the draft bill, and you can simply follow the link in our show notes to find out more.

And also included with the selected reading section of our show notes today are, as always, a few extra stories for you.

We're staying with the pharmaceutical theme of today's episode that we started the show off by including a piece from the Wall Street Journal on Varta Space's recent mission.

And we've also included an announcement on a new appointment at Relativity Space.

Hey T-minus crew, if you're just joining us, welcome, be sure to follow T-minus Space daily in your favorite podcast app.

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By Friday, show three friends or coworkers this podcast.

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Thank you so much for your support everybody.

It means a lot to me and all of us here at T-minus.

[Music] Our guest today is Steve Gizinski, managing director of Viacet Government Services.

We invited Viacet on the show to talk about the network upgrades to maritime communications.

Here's Steve in his own words.

I work at Viacet as the managing director for the services organization within the government segment.

And so I've been at the Satcom thing for quite some time and continue to be amazed at the evolution and change that happens in our industry.

And so it's been quite a good ride.

It has also been changing so much.

It's absolutely unbelievable how much has happened.

It's really an incredible time to be alive as I'm often saying to people for those of us who are really into space, it's just a really amazing time.

So Steve, thank you so much for joining me today.

And the occasion that brings us together is a recent announcement from your team.

Could you walk me through it a little bit?

Because admittedly, this is an area I'm not as familiar with as I would like to be.

But we're talking about basically network upgrades.

So could you just walk me through that and we'll dive in from there?

Yes, sounds real good.

Yes, a quick overview.

So we work for the military seal of command carrying for the ships.

We have, as a matter of fact, since 2000.

So it's been quite a long time that we've been serving them.

But in this case, the most recent award, it was in June of 2022, was to continue to maintain their current network, but then to upgrade them to what's next.

And so the usual things like getting better performance and better coverage and better features and indeed even a more secure network, all were elements to that award.

And that's what we're under way implementing right now for the military seal of command team.



So there was a really interesting phrase in the press release that I latched onto.

It was hybrid solution, which is a really interesting approach.

Can you tell me a little bit more about that?



At ViASAT, we've got kind of an interesting set of networks.

We've got a global K-band network.

And then we also have a global L-band network.

And so in this case, the application of hybrid really focuses on making use of those two networks, that global K-band network for kind of principal connectivity.

And then for kind of all weather and resilient connections, being able to use the L-band connections that are also available globally.

And so that's what we're installing on the MSC craft.



So there was another phrase that, again, I'm going through this press release and I'm just learning a lot as I'm going.

So there was Satcom as a service also came up.

That's a phrase that I don't hear as often.

I would like to learn a little bit more about that if you could indulge me.

What do we mean by that?


Well, that's a great question because it does get tossed around and sometimes it's good to ask to make sure that it's clear what's being suggested by this.

But if you look historically, like I've been working in this particular industry since 1985, but if you look historically, satellites and satellite communication was very much a specialty craft and there were a rare few who could do it.

And what's occurred is over time, some of the things that used to be kind of handcrafted and custom have become more and more common and more and more refined.

The Satcom as a service to me is that next step in evolution, which is in this case all the kind of complex technology things that a user would normally have to go get to get a service established.

They're all provided by a single provider.

And so things like the spacecraft, indeed even sometimes the user terminals, but user terminal spacecraft, gateways that traffic lands on and then terrestrial network that does interconnection.

Satcom is a service for us.

What that means is all those elements are provided by Viasat and the user simply takes advantage of them.

And maybe an important thing, and this is something that other users have had to do, including MSC, if they wanted to operate in a certain region, they had to arrange connectivity in that region.

With Satcom as a service from Viasat, no matter where they're at, wherever they turn the terminal on, it can connect to the network and then it will access the services that are allocated to that particular user.

So it really simplifies things.

It approves the user experience and that's a good thing.

Yeah, absolutely.

And it's really interesting when I think about the use case for the folks who are using this technology in this situation, it's both high need and also they're in distant places where connectivity is difficult.

So that sounds like a really interesting challenge to sort of take on for people who like hard challenges to solve, I suppose.


So, Grace, can we discuss a little bit more in depth about sort of the enhanced maritime communications situation?

So what does that look like?

What is the end user experience going to be like?

How will it be improved?

Yeah, that's a good question.

So there's several facets.

I think time always kind of demands that you relook at what you're doing and assess if there's something then better to use.

And so if you look even with work we've done with MSC, we originally worked with them on a network that was referred to as the best network and it was in L-Band quite a long while ago.

And then we migrated that to KU-Band because KU-Band became a superior option for them for connectivity.

And we included KU and L-Band in the baseline network.

But today what you see is there's additional options that have come online and are available.

In this case, it's the Global Express service as well as something that we call the Enhanced L-Band service.

So it's two new services and basically what this evolution does is it provides higher data rates, much more automated connectivity for the user.

So way back in the day, there was a lot of user involvement to get a connection made and that became less and less.

And this is kind of that next step in that migration where the user is very uninvolved in having to intervene or interact with the terminal.

They just simply get service.

They power it up and it gets connected.

And so that's a huge advantage.

The folks on the MSC platforms don't really, they're not there to tend to a SATCOM terminal.

They're there to do a mission.

And so we want to make sure that's easy.

So I'd say that's principally what they're getting is kind of the latest evolution in SATCOM as a service in both KU-Band and L-Band where it's seamless and it's integrated together and the users don't have to intervene to get what they need, which is reliable connectivity.



Steve, I know we've covered a lot of ground on the press release.

I just want to make sure, is there anything that maybe we haven't covered that you wanted to mention, sort of wanted to give you the podium on that?

Oh, sure.

That's always the hardest of questions.

I'm saying that mainly because as I mentioned at the beginning, this is not entirely SATCOMs, especially for military applications, really not my forte.

Admittedly, my boss is a Navy vet, so he knows the stuff inside and out, which is, he was really excited also when he saw this press release.

Like, this is great.

This is going to make a huge difference.

So I'm learning as I'm speaking with you.

I'm going, I don't know a lot about this.

So if there's anything that I should know for my own education, I'd love to know.


Yeah, I think you brought up a really, really good point and folks don't appreciate this, but there's many that serve our country that are, they're in very difficult and distant places and this is where SATCOM can really shine, right?

Wherever they're like, they're mobile, so that's really, you know, it's difficult.

They're not at some fixed base or whatever, but they go wherever they need to go in order to serve and that's a big sacrifice.

And so I think in this case, we owe it to them to provide them the best of connectivity that we can.

And so that's what's really cool and motivates my team.

I mean, a large part of our team are folks who have served and so, you know, we really want to help.

Like, I mean, we have to be an ongoing business as well, but we want to make a difference.

And so, yeah, I think you hit on it is what this provides is just an improvement in coverage.

A matter of fact, in this, maybe this is a good thing to add.

We are launching a pair of spacecraft that will provide Arctic coverage.

And so even in areas that have historically, you know, by geosatellites not been covered, that area will also be included in this service.

That's mid this year that that should be launched.

And so I think, again, we continue to try to invest in our networks to make them even better.

And for us, the goal is to make sure that, you know, U.S. government users get everything they need, wherever they are, with the reliability they deserve.

We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

Many of us have favorite rockets.

Undoubtedly, the super heavy lift Saturn V was the rocket of many of our childhood dreams that inspired countless aerospace careers.

I've got kind of a soft spot for heavy lift rockets in general, like the Falcon Heavy.

I mean, they're big, a very rockety rocket, so to speak, to use the precise scientific term.

And right now we're counting down to the swan song for one such heavy rocket, the Delta 4.

The National Reconnaissance Office posted on social media today that the countdown is on to the final farewell to the heavy launch vehicle, which has been in operation since 2004.

NRO shared that their mission, NRL 70, is scheduled to launch on the Delta 4 heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on March 28.

It'll be the 16th and final launch of this rocket.

The Delta 4 line of rockets was developed by Boeing, and the program was later transferred to the United Launch Alliance.

It was the vehicle used to launch the Parker Solar Probe and nine classified missions for the NRO.

In May 2023, the final Delta 4 heavy core and boosters finished construction, officially ending Delta 4 production and making way for the Vulcan launch vehicle.

So all your rocket chasers hop on a plane after the third flight test for Starship, sometime this month, fingers crossed, and head to the Space Coast for your farewell to the Delta 4.

[MUSIC] That is it for T-Minus for March 12, 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 Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliot Peltzman.

Our associate producer is Liz Stokes.

Our executive producer is Jen Iben.

Our VP is Brandon Karp.

And I'm Maria Varmazes.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow.

[MUSIC] T-Minus.


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