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Cyber threats to aerospace on the rise.

NOAA awards Parsons a $15.5M contract to support TraCSS. Maxar to launch its WorldView Legion satellites. SAIC announces fiscal year results. And more.




The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded a $15.5 million contract to Parsons Corporation for system integration and cloud management services for the Traffic Coordination System for Space (TraCSS). Maxar Technologies’ first two of six planned high-resolution WorldView Legion satellites have arrived at Vandenberg Space Force Base, ahead of launch as soon as April. Science Applications International Corporation known as SAIC, has announced results for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Gianluca Redolfi, Chief Business Officer at Sateliot.

You can connect with Gianluca on LinkedIn and learn more about Sateliot on their website.

Selected Reading

The Aviation and Aerospace Sectors Face Skyrocketing Cyber Threats

SAIC Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Fiscal Year 2024 Results- Business Wire

NOAA selects system integrator for the Traffic Coordination System for Space

First Two WorldView Legion Satellites Arrive at Launch Base

The stages for the inaugural Ariane 6 flight currently being assembled | ArianeGroup

Thomas Stafford, NASA astronaut who led Apollo-Soyuz joint mission, dies at 93 | collectSPACE

How historic handshake in space brought superpowers closer | CNN 

NASA to Send Research to Station Aboard 30th SpaceX Resupply Mission

Welcome to the OuterNET™

Kymeta Begins Fulfilling Customer Orders of its First Multi-Orbit, On-the-Move Flat-Panel Antenna for Military Users- Business Wire

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[MUSIC] One of the things that I love when talking about the aerospace sector is that people are building real physical things, spacecraft, sensors, stations, spaceports.

And coming from the tech world as I have, it's refreshing to be talking about atoms and not just bits.

But of course, it's not an either or situation.

You can't really have one without the other nowadays.

And today our news just so happens to have a software focus for the otherwise hard tech of space.

[MUSIC] Today is March 18th, 2024.

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

[MUSIC] NOAA awards Parsons a $15.5 million contract to support tracks.

MaxArt finally launched its world view Legion satellites.

SAIC announces fiscal year results.

And our guest today is Gianluca Radolfi, Chief Business Officer at Sateliot.

We'll be discussing Sateliot's 5G core in AWS and how it interconnects with other mobile operators.

Stay with us.

[MUSIC] Happy Monday everybody and we're starting our show today looking at a brand new report from cybersecurity firm ReSecurity.

That's titled Aviation and Aerospace Sectors Face Skyrocketing Cyber Threats.

And the report points to the increasingly interconnected aerospace sector from design to supply chain and operations as one of the reasons for the more than 600% increase in cybersecurity attacks on the aerospace industry in 2022 alone.

And more recently, also the ongoing importance of space assets in the war in Ukraine has also certainly put space infrastructure in the hacker spotlight.

Not to mention the continuing discussion about designating or not designating space as critical infrastructure.

That has also piqued the interest of hacker groups looking to extort aerospace operations with ransomware attacks.

But the increasing use of internet-enabled devices, and that's good old fashioned IoT for those of us keeping track at home.

That has, in the words of this new report, drastically amplified the attack surface for aerospace organizations at more granular levels of their supply chain.

So with this report in mind, it felt like a good time to bring in N2K's own chief learning officer, Jeff Welgan, for his take.

>> You know, honestly, my first initial impression was this is not that surprising.

We've known that aerospace industry companies have been long targeted by adversaries.

And if you're in the industry and you're building really novel new technologies or platforms for the government, certainly foreign adversaries are going to be interested in what you have.

So you're a target there.

And then I think from a different angle, if this is focused more on the civil side and focused on airport security, airline security, etc.

There's other motivations from other cyber adversaries like cyber criminal groups who want to monetize things.

So if you can put a really great ransomware out there and lock something down and it disrupts your industry significantly by causing massive delays at an airport or for your production line as a company building jets or airplanes, etc., then you're going to be more motivated to pay the ransom and just hope that solves a problem and you can get back to doing your business.

So I wasn't entirely shocked by the report.

I'm curious what hackers specifically or hackers, attackers, adversaries, whatever phrase we want to use.

There are interesting and unique things that attackers want to take advantage of.

As you mentioned a little bit, leveraging the fact that we're so reliant on it.

Is there anything else that they're looking at you think?

Yeah, I would say supply chain is a huge piece of this as well.

Because you think of the things that we use in the government, whether it's platform or technology for our US military or for large programs like space and you make that connection into aerospace industry at large, the supply chain is interconnected there.

Whether it's an engine, whether that's a piece of technology that goes on into or on or supporting a platform, they are oftentimes supporting something large or something more government-y or classified or military-like.

So if you can infiltrate components of an organization to really understand the supply chain and then do adversarial supply and chain operations on that, then that is another really appealing threat factor for cyber adversaries.

So it's really important and supply chain is a really complex thing to understand and track and manage.

Yeah, it makes sense.

And I know that report also mentioned that many aerospace companies are feeling the heat ever since there's been this discussion about designating space as a critical infrastructure sector.

People are kind of like, we don't want that attention because attackers are looking at us more.

But I think it's been happening even before that discussion was ramping.

It's just it's been just, as you said, it's a very appealing area for an attacker to go after.

Well, especially as we're moving our comms more and more away from earth itself, right?

Like comms have been there for a long time.

But like as more technologies come on board where we're utilizing satellites, mesh networks, etc.

That is a whole new opportunity for cyber adversaries or hackers to kind of get involved in those environments so that they can leverage it for whatever use that they want to leverage it for.

So we'll see more and more of it for sure.


So now that we've sort of scared everybody.

That's what we do.

That's what we do.

So OK, what do we realistically do about all this?

This is a very complicated problem.

Yeah, I think most cyber issues are people issues.

So certainly technology has a place here and there's a technology that can help advance all the things we want to advance for our business.

There's technologies can help protect and monitor those things.

But at the end of the day, people are behind everything.

They're building the technologies or they're implementing the technologies.

They're managing the technologies.

They're managing other people and programs, supply chains, etc.

So I would take a recommendation for most organizations to really understand your talent strategy, really look at the roles that you have that have this intersection of cyber or security involved in it, and then look at what's really required for that role at the certain level within the industry or the product line that we're actually focused on here.

And make sure that your talent strategy is in line with your business objectives and your business goals.

And security should certainly be one component of that.

So once you understand really your job role expectations, then you have the data in front of you to start making decisions on, do we have the right people?

Do we need to bring in more people?

Do we need to upskill people?

Do we need to let some people go?

Those are all decisions that can be made when you have the right information in front of you.

So that's the end result, but getting to that point, where do you start with that?

That sounds like a lot to take on.

Well, it takes focus, right?

So you really want to look at each and every single job role that you have, I would say in the cybersecurity space, and then profile those roles out based on the expectations you have for the business.

And then you want to look at current state, but you also want to look at future state.

If you know that your product engineers are bringing on new cloud technologies and integrating the engineering component of their work into a cloud environment, what does that mean?

Well, what skills do you need to do that successfully?

And then profile that out.

And then the next natural step is to ask yourself, well, do we have the right people for that?

Are people skilled in those things?

And go through the process of answering that question.

And there's a number of ways you can get to that answer, whether it's a diagnostic or assessment or a self-assessment or managerial review.

Those are labs.

There's a lot of things that you can do to get better granularity or focus on where you're at currently with your skills.

Maria, another really important thing I think that's relevant for this industry is that a lot of these companies have positions there that require security clearances.

If you're Boeing and you're doing government work, government programs, the people who are working on those next-gen aircraft or platforms likely have to have security clearances.

And I bring that up because it's just one more challenge for this industry when it comes to having the right people, because now their people pool is much smaller.

You have to find not only people who are really good at what they do, but also are cleared or are clearable.

And that can be one more additional constraint for the industry.

Thanks so much again, Jeff, for joining us today.

Moving on to other stories now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has awarded a $15.5 million contract to Parsons Corporation for Systems Integration and Cloud Management Services for the Traffic Coordination System for Space, also known as TRAX.

TRAX aims to be a modern, cloud-based IT system that will provide basic space situational awareness and traffic space coordination services to both private and civil space operators.

As the systems integrator, Parsons will develop the software backbone for the operational TRAX platform including the space situational awareness data repository known as TRAX Oasis and the application layer called TRAX Skyline.

Maxar Technologies may finally be launching its first worldview Legion satellites after years of delays.

In late 2022, Maxar targeted a January 2023 launch, but as often happens in this industry, that date slipped.

And there were no further updates in 2023.

The company recently announced, though, on social media that the first two of six planned high-resolution worldview Legion satellites have arrived at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

And that's ahead of liftoff as soon as April aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The anticipated worldview Legion constellation will provide a boost to Maxar's Earth observation capacity.

Science Applications International Corporation, also known as SAIC, has announced results for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year, ending February 2, 2024.

And the results are a mixed bag.

Revenues for the quarter decreased $231 million compared to the prior year quarter.

According to SAIC, this was due to a whole host of reasons, including, and I'll list them for you, the sale of the logistics and supply chain management business.

The deconsolidation of the forfeiture support associates.

Five additional working days in the prior year period.

Contract completions.

A reserve on a customer receivable related to a program completed prior to fiscal year 2022, partially offset by a ramp up on you and existing contracts.

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Just kidding.

That said, the press release stated that when adjusting for the impact of all those factors that I just mentioned, revenues increased by approximately 7.7%.

SAIC's estimated backlog at the end of the fiscal year 2024 was approximately $22.8 billion, of which $3.5 billion was funded.

The company was recently awarded new federal contracts, which they hope will turn around their current fiscal year results.

The Arian Group has shared images of the main stage and the upper stage of the Arian 6 rocket in the Launcher Assembly Building, also known as BAL, at the ELA-4 launch complex in French Guiana.

The central core is made up of the main stage and the upper stage, assembled together with an interstage interface structure.

Once assembled, the central core will then be transferred from the BAL to the launch pad ahead of the Arian 6's inaugural launch, which is fingers crossed, expected this summer.

And we finish with some sad news for today.

Former NASA astronaut Thomas Stafford has died at the age of 93.

Stafford was selected as an astronaut in 1962 and flew to space four times.

He traveled to the moon on Apollo 10 and later led the first international space mission carried out by the United States and Russia in 1975.

During that mission, he famously shook hands in the spirit of peace with cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who later became a lifelong friend with Stafford.

Stafford later recounted that famous handshake saying, "We estimate over a billion to a billion and a half people around the world saw me shake hands with Alexei and said, 'Look, if people like this can work together, we can work together on a lot of things.'"

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared this on social media that today, General Tom Stafford went to the eternal heavens, which he so courageously explored as a Gemini and Apollo astronaut, as well as a peacemaker in Apollo Soyuz.

Those of us privileged to know him are very sad, but grateful we knew a giant.

@AstraGeneralStafford That's it for our Intel briefing for today.

Head to the selected reading section of our show notes to find links to further reading on all the stories we've mentioned in today's briefing.

We've also added a preview of the research that's headed to the ISS later this week, on the 30th SpaceX resupply mission, and links to two announcements from the satellite conference which is going on right now this week in Washington, DC.

Hey, T-minus crew.

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It's called "Signals and Space."

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[Music] Barcelona-based satellite IoT provider Satelliote is the first satellite communication service provider to offer global satellite IoT connectivity with three GPP release, 17 NB IoT, or narrowband Internet of Things satellites.

That's a lot of jargon to say that they aim to be the first company to connect all devices using 5G technology from space.

And our guest Gianluca Redolfi joins us to explain further.

First of all, thanks a lot for having me.

My name is Gianluca Redolfi.

I'm the CCO at Satelliote.


Thank you so much for joining me today, Gianluca.

I appreciate it.

And we've spoken with Satelliote before.

It was a little while ago.

And a lot of things have happened in the intervening months.

So there were some really interesting announcements about some new things that Satelliote's been doing in terms of building out its network and working with new partners and bringing new capabilities to the forefront.

So could you tell me a little bit about what Satelliote's been up to since maybe late last year?

Yes, of course.

So just as a reminder, so Satelliote is the first satellite constellation providing 5G from standard 5G from space, which basically means that this enables any device on Earth to connect seamlessly between the terrestrial cellular network and the satellite network.

So no more specific devices for satellites.

We've been working now five years on this.

The standard has been approved a little bit more than a year ago.

So the situation that we have now is that we are seeing happening in the market, that the devices are upgraded to the release 17, which is the new feature that includes the not terrestrial network.

Our constellation provided test environments for such devices and we are launching new satellites this year.

And this is going to bring us to the first commercial services by the end of this year.

That's the news.


Thank you very much for sharing that.

One of the things that caught my eye when I received some of the press releases about what you all have been up to, there are a lot of different partnerships that your company has formed.

Can you tell me a bit about some of the different partners that you're working with?

You know, when you are developing a satellite constellation and you also want to be GSM-A, basically you do much more than just being a satellite.

So there are a lot of other parts specifically on the ground.

So you need to have ground stations, you need to have to be seen like a carrier yourself.

So we had to set up our own core network, like any telecom operator.

So in all these aspects we've been partnering with our partners and we've been also developing on it.

So one that you mentioned is AWS.

This is public, we've been working on and actually been announcing that it has been the first time also in history that the narrowband IoT NTN has been done over AWS.

So this has been developed and that's what we're using as a core.

By the same time we're also using other partners for the ground station.

We're partnering with the KSAT, we're partnering with Rodenfraerts, GCEA, so all these ecosystems of making possible to make the communication to the satellites, testing the devices to make sure that they are working and the interoperability tests are fine with our constellation.

Yeah, so that's all the ecosystem and this is not just one company.

So you need a lot of the partners to make it happen.

I'm curious sort of how that partnership with AWS came to be.

I mean, I know they're a big name and all that, but at the same time I'm just so curious about how that developed and how you all work with them.

Well, AWS is the key provider of cloud solutions.

So we started working with them probably around three years ago.

We worked very close to them to make possible the developments.

We had very nice support and we worked very closely and that's what we achieved.

I think when I was just like a year ago that we achieved this milestone of having the first Narobal IoT core on AWS.

You mentioned a little bit about the long-term strategy and vision for the company.

Could you just go a little more detail about what you see Sateliot enabling over the long term?

With a lot of pleasure because our mission is to be able to connect every single use case, any single device, any single person that wants to be connected in any unconnected area now.

You know, the issue that exists so far is the fact that satellite connectivity has been proprietary, has been so expensive, so demanding on specific hardware that at the end it's still too expensive and so it's very limited the amount of specific use cases that can really pay for it.

In terms of dollars, in terms of power consumption.

So what we are providing to the world, by the way we have coverage everywhere in the planet, is very, very affordable, almost a terrestrial price point with the same device which is terrestrial device, the possibility to connect also where there's no cellular network.

So our final goal is to connect the unconnected and to have all the devices connected everywhere.

Ultimately, we are doing it because we think that the connected world is a better world.

I just wanted to make sure if there's anything else that you wanted to mention about what Sateliot's up to or anything really, I just wanted to give you the opportunity to say it.

Well, I would say we'll be mentioning basically everything.

Aspiratially, I'm very happy that this is happening, that the standard of 3GPP, which is the organization that sets the standard on the telecom side, at least 17, so the standard that includes the NTN exists.

And I'm hoping that really in the next 5 to 10 years, the connectivity will be so commodity as it is on terrestrial, also on satellite, that basically there will be no disconnect nowhere in the world.

[Music] We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

We do love a bit of space history here at T-minus, and this past weekend, on March 16th, we celebrated the first liquid-fueled rocket launch.

Anyone have any idea what year that was?

Well, we're talking 98 years ago, in fact, in 1926.

And of course, we're referring to the launch by Robert Goddard.

Now, Goddard named the vehicle Nell, reference to the title character Salvation Nell, from a 1908 play by Edward Brewster Sheldon.

Huh, I didn't know that.

The rocket itself, which was fueled by gasoline and liquid oxygen, was launched on a farm in Auburn, Massachusetts.

Goddard designed the rocket with the engine on top, and the fuel and oxidizer tanks below.

Needless to say, it's a bit of an unusual configuration, but it's one that he thought would provide more stability.

Nell rose 41 feet in the air during its 2.5 second flight, landing 184 feet away in a cabbage field.

A commemorative historical marker sits upon the launch site today, in fact, which just so happens to be right on the 9th fairway at the Packagehog Golf Course in Auburn.

Let me tell you that Robert Goddard has a special place in our hearts here at T-Minus because although he had his first launch in my home state of Massachusetts, he found real success in Alice's home state of New Mexico.

Goddard outgrew his facilities in mass, and the Guggenheim family provided funding for a new and larger facility in Roswell, New Mexico.

Surprisingly, the US government showed little interest in his rocketry research before World War II, but other nations like Germany and the Soviet Union studied his results to advance their own rocketry programs.

Speaking in 1963, Werner von Braun reflected on Goddard's contribution to the space program, saying, "His rockets may have been rather crude by present-day standards, but they blazed the trail and incorporated many features used in our most modern rockets and space vehicles."

That's it for T-Minus for March 18, 2024.

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

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Learn more at n2k.com.

This episode was produced by Alice Caruth, 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 so much for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow.

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