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SLIM has risen… again.

Japan’s SLIM wakes up after another lunar night. ispace raises $53.5 million dollars in stock sales. Planet reports 15% annual revenue growth. And more.




JAXA's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) lunar probe has survived its second lunar night. Commercial lunar landing company ispace has raised $8.1B yen ($53.5 million), in a stock sale. Earth Observation company Planet, filed  financial results for the period ended January 31, 2024, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Melissa Quinn, Managing Director of Slingshot Aerospace Ltd.

You can connect with Melissa on LinkedIn and learn more about Slingshot Aerospace on their website.

Selected Reading

Japanese probe wakes up after second lunar night - Taipei Times

Japanese lunar lander company ispace raises $53.5 million in stock sale - SpaceNews

Planet Reports Financial Results for Fourth Quarter and Full Fiscal Year 2024- Business Wire

SatixFy Announces Full Year 2023 Results- Business Wire

Defense officials tease new commercial space strategies

RECAP of ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket launch scrub: next attempt uncertain

Space Health Tops Station Research Schedule on Thursday

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[MUSIC] The irony is not lost on us that as many Christians observe Easter this weekend around the world, a spacecraft on the moon has defied the odds and risen from the dead again.

Such perfect timing.

We'll get into more details on that in a second.

But first, I can see you Alice, that you're bursting to share and you joke with us.

So as always, I know I'm gonna regret this, but go on.

What do you got for us, Alice?

The whole I had to go east of theme, didn't I?

What do you call an Easter egg from outer space?

An Easter egg from outer space.

An extra terrestrial.

Oh, an extra ter- Okay, that's much better than I thought.

I'm not even so sure I said it because I was too excited.

Extra terrestrial.

Extra terrestrial.

I was thinking like, eggsteroid, meteor egg.

Yeah, it didn't work.

All right, extraterrestrial.

I like that.

That's better than I thought.

Today is March 29th, 2024.

I'm Maria Varmausis.

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

[MUSIC PLAYING] Japan's slim wakes up after another lunar night.

Ice Space raises $53.5 million in stock sales.

Planet reports 15% annual growth.

And our guest today is Melissa Quinn, the newly appointed managing director of Sling Shot Aerospace Limited.

She'll be chatting with Maria about hitting up Sling Shot's international arms.

So stay with us for that later in the show.

[MUSIC PLAYING] Happy Friday, everybody.

Let's dive into our Intel briefing.

Unexpectedly, JAXA's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or Slim Lunar Probe, has survived its second lunar night.

Despite its awkward nosedive landing on the moon with its solar panels being, shall we say, a skew, Slim has surprised just about everybody, including JAXA, it seems, by awakening seemingly from the dead for its third lunar day.

Or perhaps I should say-- And said unto them, "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved, Slim to face plant, and to rise from the dead the third lunar day."

Channeling my church girl right there.

In case you have doubts, it just so happens that in a post on the social media platform, X, JAXA shared a photo that Slim sent of the lunar surface as proof that it had, for real, come back.

I'm sure there's a stigmata joke in there, but I just can't put my finger on it.

I'm going to get X communicate.

All right, that was brilliant.

I love it.

And staying with Japan, commercial lunar landing company, iSpace has raised 8.1 billion yen, or $53.5 million, in a stock sale to help fund its third spacecraft.

The 10 and a quarter million shares of stock were sold to investors outside of Japan.

The company's first attempt at a lunar landing ended in failure last year when its Hakuto R-lander crashed into the lunar surface. iSpace is aiming for a second attempt later this year with its resilience lander.

The spacecraft is currently in the integration and testing phase.

A third spacecraft will fly under NASA's commercial lunar payload services or CLIPS program. iSpace is also working on a new lander, Series 3, which they're aiming to launch in either late 2026 or early 2027.

The funds raised by the stock sale will not cover the costs of the next two missions. iSpace continues to run at a loss, but it says it has sufficient funding for Mission 2, which is scheduled to launch near the end of this year on a Falcon 9.

Some annual reports for us to report on now, and we're starting with Earth Observation Company Planet, the San Francisco-based company filed financial results for the period ending January 31st, 2024, with impressive numbers.

Full year revenue increased 15% year over year to $220.7 million.

Planet also used the call with investors to announce a $20 million contract extension to provide hyperspectral data for Carbon Mapper's greenhouse gas monitoring campaign.

The multi-year data license agreement with Carbon Mapper will provide hyperspectral core imagery to the nonprofit and its partners until 2030.

The contract marked an extension to an existing data license agreement between Planet and Carbon Mapper.

Satellite communications company, Satix Fire, released its consolidated financial results for the four-year period, which ended on December 31st, 2023.

Total revenue for the year saw a 1% increase, but gross profit fell by 22%.

Satix Fire says the decrease in gross profit and margin is due to the company's engagement in projects which carried lower gross margins compared to 2022.

The company's CEO says that overall, Satix Fire made solid progress in 2023.

The Pentagon and the Space Force are preparing commercial space strategies that are expected to be released in April to officially recognize the increased role that private space companies play in national defense.

John Plum, the Pentagon's assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said commercial companies can provide deeper integration into our systems to really make a difference across the board.

But there is concern about cyber threats.

Plum also said, "How cyber hard is your constellation "is a concern I have, "because what we need is not a thing "that just works in peacetime, which is nice.

"What the department needs are things that also work in war."

We hear that the commercial strategy may be released at the Space Symposium, and since we're going to be at Space Symposium ourselves, we will be there to cover the news as we get it.

Yes, we are, super excited.

We've been waiting with Bated Breath all this week as well for the Delta IV heavy rocket, but it seems that the wait is going to last a little bit longer.

Thursday's scrub was due to poor weather conditions, namely high winds, and ULA had hoped for a 24-hour turnaround, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

The scrub announcement was followed by a tweet from the United Launch Alliance's CEO, Tori Bruno, stated that, "Pump failed again.

Stand by."

There is launch attempt availability on Monday at 1.25 p.m. in Florida, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, but it's unknown whether ULA will be ready for that launch window either. (upbeat music) And that concludes our briefing for this Good Friday.

You'll find links to further reading on all the stories we've mentioned in our show notes.

We've also added a NASA blog on the latest science research that's going on in the International Space Station.

You'll find those links and more on our website, space.ntuk.com, and click on this episode title.

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.

Tomorrow, we have Maria's full chat with Melissa Quinn talking about Slingshot Aerospace's international expansion.

Check it out while you're putting out the Easter eggs ahead of the hunt this weekend.

Indulging in too much candy, either from said hunt or from the sales that start on chocolate off by Sunday afternoon, or just generally winding down on your days off.

That'll be me as well.

You don't want to miss it.

Our chat today is a cut down of my discussion with Melissa Quinn, the newly appointed managing director of Slingshot Aerospace Limited.

We will have the chat in full on tomorrow's Deep Space.

For today's chat, I started by asking Mel to give us the pitch of what they do at Slingshot.

So basically, we are a data and analytics company for Space, and we have multiple sources of incredibly rich data from contextual data, so that's seradata as a product, which is every single launch back to Sputnik.

What's the mission is?

How long the lifespan's left?

Pattern of life movement, all of that.

What's it doing up there?

How long does it have left?

And then we've got our own sensors, our own optical sensors all around the world.

So we're pulling all the data that those optical sensors are obviously seeing.

We have environmental data from in orbit, and then we have this incredible technology with our AI.

And so we're pooling and fusing all that data together, and we're giving those insights and the analytics to our customers so that they can make responsible decisions, whether that's maneuver their spacecraft or to report some suspicious activity.

And all of this is to help avoid collisions in space, help avoid dubious behavior in space, and to keep it sustainable for the future.

And yeah, in short, that's what we do.

We provide those kind of insights.

And you hear the saying like data is king or queen.

I like to say data is queen, actually.

Data reigns.

Data reigns.

But it really is what you do then, how you action that data, that's going to really fundamentally be the future of how we use space.

And we want to make sure that people have the right information to make those decisions.

I would imagine that differentiator truly is making that data meaningful, because throwing data at a customer is not a winning solution, but making it meaningful to them and contextualizing it is really the name of the game.


And I mean, a lot of these companies, they get, TRLs come through, so they get the conjunction notifications that come, and they're getting like hundreds and thousands of them a day.

How do you decipher which one to pay attention to?

And how do you decide, you know, everybody's risk thresholds going to be slightly different as well.

So for us, it's kind of creating that bespoke set of data that is actually valuable to the customer to then go and make those decisions in a timely manner and take that kind of constant guesswork out of it of trying to decide what's going to happen.

So we're really that intermediary between the huge sets of data and the customer.

Yeah, that's fantastic.

The firehose of data effect is real.

So yeah, that is a very important role there.

So part of why we're chatting today is now Slingshot is moved or is expanding its presence in the UK.

That's a really interesting move.

Can you tell me more about why?

Yeah, well, they bought and acquired Seradata as a UK founded company in 2022 and because of its incredible data set, really, but also because, you know, we have these awesome analysts that are over here working really hard, we have a really good reputation in the UK.

And so when I was brought on, it was start to look at, okay, are we going to continue just running a Seradata or do we think that this should be the first home to Slingshot International?

And I'm going to be biased.

Of course, I am.

I know the industry in the UK so well.

It's a really amazing community.

And I also know that space situational awareness, space domain awareness is a really growing area in the UK.

And the government's really excited about the King is even, you know, supporting it through the Ashokarta.

And so for me, it was kind of an easy one.

I was when they came to me and they're like, you know, if you're going to head up international, is UK going to be that first site?

And I was like, yeah, definitely.

And so we announced it a couple of weeks ago and now that's it, you know, it will be the home to our international portfolio.

So for me, it's going, using this literally as our launch pad out to the world to see, you know, where what other countries will be interested in what we have to offer for them.

So yeah, we're building quickly.

We're going to be recruiting fast over the next few months.

And really, you know, it's a valuable location for us.

It's not just a sales office.

This is going to be the home to the right activity.

And yeah, I'm really excited.

That's great.


I love hearing about the space ecosystem in the UK, how much it is already so established and growing.

You have such a great perspective on this, given the amazing roles you've had already.

I'm just, I'd love to know your thoughts on sort of how you see Slingshot fitting in with the current UK ecosystem and sort of how, what you've seen, I suppose.

Yeah, I mean, it's a good, it's a big player, the UK in some really, you know, in some areas, small satellite manufacturing, I think it's the second largest manufacturer in the world with small satellites.

And well, I was either trying to get the launch side going.

And communications obviously is another big part of the UK and exploration.

And I was with the Axiom team last week, and that's just incredibly excited with the astronaut and human spaceflight program.

So there's a lot going on over here.

And the one area that I think is really exciting is the UK's role as a regulator, as policy and insurance.

It's always kind of really, you know, been a heavy hitter in those areas.

And that fits really well with where we are with space domain awareness and space sustainability, because it's lacking a lot of that at the minute.

And so the UK will is already becoming a leader in those areas.

And so to align ourselves with that kind of leadership and, you know, trusted kind of leadership as well as they start to develop some of these legislation and regulations and policy, we want to be part of that because it will help us, you know, craft our products going forward as well to kind of meet the needs of what might come out the other side.

So working alongside over here and also just, you know, it's a really collaborative and quite friendly community.

The space industry in the UK, it's small enough that you kind of know everybody.

Good and bad thing, I guess.

Good and bad.

But, you know, I've been able to pull on old colleagues and from different parts of the industry and we're partnering and working together.

And we hosted a roundtable last week at the US Embassy with, you know, all the different types of companies in the UK in this domain.

And it was really good.

It was challenging, but it was, you know, there's a really big collaborative spirit, US and UK.

And that's something that we're really hoping to tap into.

Yeah, absolutely.

I can-- the potential there is incredible.

I suppose I should have asked you this question earlier, but I was-- you were mentioning something about, you know, as customer needs evolve.

And especially now that you are very much in the space situational awareness world, you know, we talked a little bit about how, you know, the deluge of data is, you know, finding what's useful in there is a challenge in and of itself.

I'm curious where you see either industry-wide capabilities or maybe focus areas for space situational awareness moving forward, because certainly getting good data is going to always be a paramount need and making it make sense.

Curious if you see any other opportunity areas coming forward.

Yeah, I think-- funny enough, and I still feel like I'm a bit of an outsider to this part of the industry.

But one of the things I quickly notice is like just lack of communication between operators and just very simple, like, some sort of chat function where they could be like, hey, are you going to move?

Or are you going to move?

So I think there's some really base-level fundamental things that we can grow opportunities within.

And I think communication is definitely one.

I talked a little bit about maybe starting to look at some of the regulations and policy, I think, is going to be really important.

I think creating a common operating picture amongst especially Allied nations, you know, what does that look like?

How can we grow that opportunity and be part of that?

So they're working from the same sheet, the same song sheet, and making their decisions based off of what they're commonly seeing.

So I think that's going to be really interesting.

I think there's another great opportunity around the commercial side of this.

So I mean, a lot of it still is in the government and military domain.

But as commercial players become more and more interested, and technologies evolve, I think, like on-orbit sensors and, you know, being in space, looking back down and seeing debris from a different angle, I think it's going to be really exciting.

And we'll be looking to a partner with people that do that.

So there's a few different areas that so far I've seen.

And we will have more from Melissa on Tomorrow's Deep Space.

[MUSIC PLAYING] We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

If you are celebrating Easter this weekend, you may have bunnies on the brain.

So here's a bit of cultural trivia for you about our beautiful moon and rabbits.

Before we humans knew or understood what the moon was, we made up all kinds of stories about what the shadows on the moon's surface were.

The face of the man in the moon was one I often heard, but personally never saw.

Maybe that's just me.

What about you, Alice?

Did you ever see the man in the moon?


Can't say I've ever seen it.


So it's not just me.


In many East Asian cultures, their crater shadows don't make a face, but a rabbit.

In Chinese mythology, the rabbit is the jade rabbit, named Yu Tu, the companion of the moon goddess Chang'e.

And Yu Tu is making the elixir of life in a mortar for Chang'e.

And Yu Tu and Chang'e are undoubtedly names familiar to you if you've been paying attention to Chinese missions to the moon.

The Korean and Japanese variants on the folktale of the rabbit in the moon are that the jade rabbit is making rice cake or mochi.

And variants of the jade rabbit in the moon tail exist throughout many cultures in East and South Asia and have often been entwined with Buddhist beliefs over time.

Variants of a Buddhist jataka tail say that a selfless rabbit sacrificed itself to feed a hungry old man.

But that old man was actually a divine being in disguise.

And as a reward for the rabbit's sacrifice, he put the rabbit's image on the moon.

So there you go, something to think on this weekend.

Use it as you will to impress these space-obsessed kiddos in your life as they gnaw on a chocolate bunny on Sunday.

I never knew any of that.

Thank you for sharing.

[MUSIC PLAYING] Well, that's it for Team Miners for March the 29th, 2024.

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

We'd love to know what you think of this podcast.

You can email us at space@intuk.com or submit the survey in the show notes.

Your feedback ensures we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in the rapidly changing space industry.

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We make you smarter about your team while making your team smarter.

Learn more at N2K.com.

This episode was produced by Alice Karuth, 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 Karpf.

And I'm Maria Varmasus.

Thanks for listening.

Have a great weekend.

Eat that chocolate.



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