<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=205228923362421&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Sowing the seeds of space.

Space Force asks for $1 billion for projects not funded in FY25. The Soyuz MS-25 crew arrives at the ISS. UKSA announces new HQ and locations. And more.




The US Space Force requests an additional $1 billion from Congress for projects not included in the fiscal year 2025 budget. Russian Soyuz MS-25 mission carrying NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson, Russian Oleg Novitsky and Marina Vasilevskaya of Belarus arrives at the International Space Station. The UK Space Agency is opening new headquarters at the Harwell Science Campus’ Space Cluster in Oxfordshire, and offices in Scotland, Wales and the Midlands, and more.

Remember to leave us a 5-star rating and review in your favorite podcast app.

Miss an episode? Sign up for our weekly intelligence roundup, Signals and Space. And be sure to follow T-Minus on Instagram and LinkedIn.

T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Andrew Williams from the European Southern Observatory. 

You can connect with Andy on LinkedIn and read the International Astronomical Union’s Position Paper detailing the way forward for mitigation of satellite constellations’ impact on astronomy on their website.

Selected Reading

Space Force sends Congress $1 billion list of unfunded projects

Russian Soyuz Spacecraft with 3 Astronauts Docks at the International Space Station

Orbit Fab RAFTI Fueling Ports Flight Qualified and Ready for In-Space and Launch Site Fueling

Aerospace Shifts Corporate HQ to DC area; investing $100M in EL Segundo campus

Launching a dedicated MicroGEO communications satellite for Argentina

la France prête à subventionner massivement ses mini-fusées- Les Echos

UK Space Agency announces new headquarters and regional offices - GOV.UK

China's Queqiao-2 relay satellite enters lunar orbit - CGTN

A Letter to the Chandra Community

Optical Fiber Production - NASA

Boeing Announces Board and Management Changes

Boom Supersonic Announces Successful Flight of XB-1 Demonstrator Aircraft

The nation’s first academic space cybersecurity program welcomes the 2nd cohort

Geomagnetic storm from a solar flare could disrupt radio communications and create striking aurora- AP News

T-Minus Crew Survey

We want to hear from you! Please complete our 4 question survey. It’ll help us get better and deliver you the most mission-critical space intel every day.

Want to hear your company in the show?

You too can reach the most influential leaders and operators in the industry. Here’s our media kit. Contact us at space@n2k.com to request more info.

Want to join us for an interview?

Please send your pitch to space-editor@n2k.com and include your name, affiliation, and topic proposal.

T-Minus is a production of N2K Networks, your source for strategic workforce intelligence. © N2K Networks, Inc.

[MUSIC] Budgets, policy, infrastructure.

Will the project you've spent years, if not decades of your life working on, get the funding it needs not just to get built and launched, but also to be continuously supported and staffed?

These are not the questions that little kid dreams of space are made of, but they are often where the space sausage, so to speak, is made.

[MUSIC] Today is March 25th, 2024.

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

[MUSIC] Space Force asks for a billion dollars for projects not funded in fiscal year 2025.

The Soyuz MS-25 crew arrives at the ISS.

The UK Space Agency announces new locations for its headquarters and clusters.

And our guest today is Andy Williams from the European Southern Observatory.

We'll be discussing the International Astronomical Union's position paper, detailing the way forward for mitigation of satellite constellations, and the impact on astronomy.

Stay with us.

[MUSIC] Happy Monday, everybody.

Let's take a look at our Intel briefing for today.

C4ISRnet is reporting today that the Space Force has more than $1 billion in unfunded projects in a long, long list of high priority space items.

This list of projects that didn't make it into fiscal year 2025 budget was sent to Congress by the Space Force.

And we mostly don't know what's on there as not surprisingly, most of it, a cool 846 million worth of projects, is classified.

Of the 305 million that's not classified, the Space Force says the un or underfunded projects were for building resilience on space infrastructure, both on orbit and in ground stations, especially for position navigation and timing or PNT systems.

With additional funding though, the Space Force says it could be able to move these projects ahead much more quickly.

Makes sense.

We'll see if any of this appeal to Congress yields additional dollars for the Space Force.

And the International Space Station has welcomed the crew of the Russian Soyuz MS-25 mission.

NASA astronaut Tracey Dyson, Russian Oleg Novitsky and Marina Vasilevskaya of Belarus reached the space outpost after Saturday's blast off from Kazakhstan, which followed an aborted launch attempt just two days earlier.

The capsule will bring Laurel O'Hara, Oleg Notivsky and Marina Vasilevskaya back to Earth on April 6th.

On-orbit refueling company Orbitfab says it's rapidly attachable fluid transfer interface fueling port, also known as RAFTI, has been flight qualified.

The company says RAFTI is ready for launch site fueling and in-space refueling of satellites of any size, including the biggest national security, civil and commercial spacecraft.

Adam Harris, Orbitfab's chief commercial officer says, now that our RAFTI fueling ports are ready for space, Orbitfab expects to produce about 100 RAFTIs this year.

Orbitfab has started shipping its first 12 RAFTI ports to customers who want to install them on their satellites.

Eight of those are for the Space Force and the remaining four are for other customers including Astroscale.

Three Space Force Tetra 5 program satellites will be among the first to have Orbitfab RAFTI fueling ports on board and are expected to be launched next year.

Our friends at the Aerospace Corporation have announced that they will be moving their headquarters to the DC area but will invest $100 million into their El Segundo campus.

The federally funded research and development group provides technical guidance and advice on all aspects of space missions to military, civil and commercial customers.

The Aerospace Corp says the shift will bring the organization's CEO and corporate functions closer to customers and stakeholders in the Washington DC area.

The company will maintain its nationwide employee presence, including its workforce of 2,800 people in El Segundo.

The $100 million investment at its El Segundo campus aims to advance the engineering, research and laboratory capabilities based there.

The press release states that there are no plans for the significant relocation of current employees as a result of this change.

California-based Astronis has announced a new partnership with Orbitf, a Latin American internet service provider, to provide a dedicated micro-GO communication satellite for Argentina.

Astronis says the new partnership is a great opportunity to expand services to another fast-growing market and to work with a local partner who deeply understands the communications needs of the Argentinian people.

The Orbitf satellite will launch in 2025 as part of Astronis' third launch.

French news outlet Lezaco is reporting that French President Emmanuel Macron will announce that France is subsidizing projects for the creation of many launchers.

The announcement is expected during his trip to Peru and French Guiana.

For startups have already been selected and will receive a combined €400 million in subsidies.

According to Lezaco, the selected companies are Hyperspace, Latitude, Sirius Space Services and the Ariane Group subsidiary Maya Space.

The funding which will be supplied through the France 2030 initiative will however only be awarded if the companies manage to launch a maiden flight of their respective vehicles between 2026 and 2028.

Countdown is on.

The UK Space Agency released big news today announcing new locations for its headquarters and support for regional space clusters.

UKSA is opening new headquarters at the Harwell Science Campus' space cluster in Oxfordshire and offices in Scotland, Wales and the Midlands.

The agency says that the expansion will enable them to collaborate more closely with the UK space sector while promoting regional skills and job opportunities to deliver increasingly ambitious missions and capabilities.

The UK space sector is worth over £17.5 billion per year and employs nearly 49,000 people.

UKSA says that satellites underpin £360 billion per year of wider economic activity.

Last week, China launched its Chui Chow 2 relay satellite and the spacecraft has already entered lunar orbit.

The China National Space Administration says the satellite conducted periloon braking at a distance of about 440 km from the lunar surface before entering into lunar orbit.

The Chui Chow 2 satellite, which means MagPi bridge, is part of a pair of satellites tasked as a communications relay for China's mission to the far side of the moon, as well as a deep space radio astronomy observatory for the Chinese space program.

No big surprise here, but the US budget woes and uncertainty continue to have a knock-on effect to NASA programs.

The latest concern is with the Chandra X-ray spacecraft.

The budget for the in-space observatory has been reduced to meet, quote, "minimal operations."

In a letter from the director of the Chandra X-ray center, Dr.

Patrick Slain pushed back on the reductions and says that the budget reads less about reducing to minimal operations and more like a decommissioning of activities.


Slain finishes his letter promising to quote, "strongly make the case for the continued full support of Chandra," which the astrophysics community recognizes as a highly functioning facility that provides transformational science and crucial support to many of NASA's primary astrophysics goals.

We wish them all the very best of luck.

And here's some news for the cable guys out there.

The production of flawless space fiber investigation, also known as flawless space fibers one, is using the space station to demonstrate new manufacturing technology to improve the quality and length of optical fiber produced in space.

From mid-February to mid-March of this year, the investigation manufactured a total of more than seven miles of optical fiber.

Eight of the runs, called draws, produced more than 2,220 feet of fiber, demonstrating that the results are repeatable.

The space-drawn fibers are set to return to Earth soon for analysis of their quality.

This could be a huge benefit not only to Earth but also to space as optical fibers are used in space for applications in medicine, defense, cybersecurity, and telecommunications in orbit.

And that completes our briefing for today.

Remember to head to our show notes to find links to further reading on all the stories that we've mentioned.

We've also included three announcements for you, one's on the new changes and management at Boeing, one's on the boom supersonic flight of the XB1 demonstrator, and another's on the second cohort of the academic space cybersecurity program.

Hey T-minus crew, every Monday we produce a written intelligence roundup for you and it is 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.n2k.com.

[Music] Our guest today is Andrew Williams.

Andy works at the European Southern Observatory and is Policy Hub co-lead for the International Astronomical Union's Center for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Skies from Satellite Constellation Interference.

The IAU has released a new position paper and Andy walked us through what it covers.

The community is well aware of the issues with space debris and and space traffic management.

There's multiple groups on this, there's multiple codes of conduct and voluntary standards and some of the first government actions now.

So there's this concept for the European Union space label which is going to be released soon where they try and rate operators on their compliance on a number of space sustainability metrics.

And the European Space Agency is in the process of updating their space debris mitigation standards and for example.

So I mean these are all good initiatives but there are other implications that we're now seeing of this growth of space activities.

So things like re-entries.

So risks to objects on the ground or aircraft from you know the thousands and thousands of satellites that will be re-entering into the atmosphere.

And what does it mean to deposit thousands of tons of metal in the upper atmosphere?

So this is a question we we don't know the answer to.

Electronic noise.

So do we understand what it means to bathe the entire population of the earth in radio waves constantly all the time?

We don't know if there's any implications for that.

And of course the effects on astronomy.

So there's this growing focus on space sustainability.

You know we have tried to become part of this movement because governments are now really paying attention to it.

So this position paper which we recently released is presenting our overall strategy dealing with this new landscape of increasing space activities.

It's a four-part strategy.

So the first one is collaboration with industry.

This is extremely important.

You know industry are already working on solutions and we are learning from this and of course the solutions that we're learning this this should inform all the work going forward.

The second part of the work is to start the process of developing meaningful and appropriate standards for mitigation to protect dark and quiet skies.

So first these standards can be voluntary but in the longer term and this is the third part of the strategy we need to look at regulations.

So in the longer term ideally we would like that you know no satellite should be authorized without some kind of assessment of the cumulative risk to the space environment, the impact on dark and quiet skies and that the operator has some mitigation plan in place and they're adhering to the basic criteria which we have set about the brightness of these space objects.

So we've defined a specific limit a visual magnitude of seven to which operators should try and keep their space objects below that limit.

And then finally the fourth part is raising awareness of this at the international level.

So there's a lot of activity under the framework of the International Telecommunications Union and also at the committee on the peaceful uses of outer space where we've had some successes recently about taking this issue forward in that forum.

We'll dive into that in just a second.

These recommendations to me I as always I'm going to assume a good faith on the side of the industry for the satellite makers that for them having these criteria spelled out are very helpful as opposed to going we know that we would like to be good partners on helping not create more interference for astronomy but we don't know exactly what is needed what's helpful so I can imagine this being a very helpful resource.

Have you been have you heard anything from the industry so far when you are from satellite makers about this paper?

Yes so as part of the IAUC CPS we have what's called the industry hub and this is a forum that's chaired by an astronomer and also a representative of the industry and the aim is to gather together operators and manufacturers in a safe environment you know non-public environment where they can discuss the needed mitigations and exchange experiences and best practices on how to actually meet them.

That's in the process of being set up right now and of course we already have a lot of industry comment and engagement in the development of this paper and our standards more broadly and it's something that we're working towards in the future to try and expand this and of course it's getting quite important now because as I mentioned earlier you know there are several governments or public authorities which are in the process of developing standards and criteria which okay they may be initially voluntary but in the future they're going to be transitioning into more mandatory type of standards so the operators are really paying attention to this whole sustainability picture.

Yeah in worst case scenario you have different regulations requiring different things and then you have a bit of a patchwork that I imagine will be hard to follow.

Yeah exactly and that's something that we want to avoid and I think that's you know the role of the IAU as a as an international voice for global astronomy you know we're trying to prevent this this kind of fragmentation of requests from the astronomy community so the position paper is really it's our attempt to to put all our needs in one place such that the rest of the global astronomy community can use this whenever they have any dialogue with the national authorities or with their industry.

Fantastic well we'll make sure that there's links in our show notes for for folks who want to read it who haven't had a chance yet.

I wanted to touch on the uh you mentioned copy us there was a sort of a convening of copy us recently there's some news that came out of that would you want to update us on what happened there?

Yeah so I mean the committee on the peaceful uses of outer space you know it's the the top level forum for international space governance it's got over a hundred member states now and the member states are meeting uh over in Vienna to to discuss a range of issues about space governance one of which is space sustainability so one of the most recent achievements of this committee was that it passed the long-term sustainability guidelines in 2019 you know which is an important kind of landmark for space sustainability in a way in that many countries are now attempting to show that they are meeting these guidelines so it's having a kind of trickle-down effect into many countries and we've been trying to raise the topic of dark and quiet skies to the committee for several years and one of the specific things that we were asking for was that it was tabled formally as an agenda item and what that means is that you know it gets its own part in the agenda of the committee and then all the member states have the opportunity to present their views on that particular topic or bring some ideas or some solutions to the committee so by having it formally on the agenda you know that's really important to allow space to problem solve and yeah I'm really pleased to say at the science and technical subcommittee this February it finally was approved that it will be an agenda item at the next science and technical subcommittee in 2025 it still has to be formally approved by the main committee in June but you know that's really just a formality so what this means yeah is that in 2025 for five years we have this new agenda item which is about dark and quiet skies and the impact of large satellite constellations on astronomy so we have some work to do now to start thinking about recommendations and ideas that we can bring to this committee via the member states of course so under the leadership of Chile and Spain so those are those are two member states that they both have substantial astronomical facilities located on their territories so they have a big interest so under their leadership we've formed what's called the group of friends which is a growing kind of network of member states and observer organizations who are committed to protecting the dark and quiet skies and via this group we're going to start floating some proposals and ideas and recommendations of mitigations and global standards that can be shared with the international community and then in the long run ideally what we want to achieve is something similar to the long-term sustainability guidelines so a set of voluntary mitigations and standards that you know supports the protection of dark and quiet skies but that is approved by copious and therefore you know receives this wide recognition from many countries and takes on a kind of legitimacy by having it approved by the committee so it becomes a kind of soft law instrument there is a term that you use we'll be right back welcome back y'all and today we're sticking with astronomy news this time it's space weather focused and that's partly due to the solar cycles that we covered earlier this month in our chat with dr.

Elena Hyde we'll start with the not so great news first forecasters at NOAA have issued a geomagnetic storm watch through the end of the day today seeing an outburst of plasma from a solar flare could interfere with radio transmissions on earth the storm could interrupt high-frequency radio transmissions such as aircraft trying to communicate with distant traffic control towers there's no need to panic though most commercial aircraft can use satellite transmission as a backup so we have to follow that story with some positivity right no need to panic y'all this storm could also make for great aurora viewing if you have clear skies at night and you're up at higher latitudes this would be a great opportunity to see the sky's light up and if you manage to see the auroras borealis otherwise known as the northern lights and you manage to capture them on camera then please share the love we're likely to have clouds here in mass and Alice is down south in New Mexico so neither of us are likely to see them so well maybe one day [Music] that's it for t-minus for march 25th 2024 for additional resources from today's report check out our show notes at space.n2k.com we'd love to know what you think of this podcast you can email us at space@n2k.com or submit the survey in the show notes your feedback ensures that we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in the rapidly changing space industry 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 n2k's strategic workforce intelligence optimizes the value of your biggest investment your people we make you smarter about your team while making your team smarter learn more at n2k.com this episode was produced by alice caruth mixing by elliot peltsman and trey hefster with original music and sound designed by elliot peltsman our associate producer is liz stokes our executive producer is jen eibin our vp is brandon karp and i'm rhea varmazas thanks for listening we'll see you tomorrow (own Friday of Monday)

Similar posts

Stay in the loop on new releases. 

Subscribe below to receive information about new blog posts, podcasts, newsletters, and product information.