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NASA picks partners for a lunar terrain vehicle.

NASA selects three companies to develop lunar terrain vehicles. AWS layoffs hit the Aerospace and Satellite team. Mitsubishi joins Starlab Space. And more.




NASA has contracted Intuitive Machines, Lunar Dawn, and Venturi Astrolab to advance capabilities for a lunar terrain vehicle (LTV). Amazon Web Services has let go of several hundred sales, marketing and tech roles including at its Aerospace and Satellite division. Mitsubishi Corporation has been announced as a strategic partner and equity owner in Starlab Space, the joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Andre Kearns, Marketing Director at Amazon Web Services Aerospace and Satellite Division. N2K Space is working with AWS to bring the AWS in Orbit podcast series to the 39th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs from April 8-11. We’ll be broadcasting from the AWS booth, number 1036 in the North Hall, Tuesday-Thursday from 9-11am.

You can connect with Andre on LinkedIn and learn more about AWS Aerospace and Satellite on their website.

Selected Reading

NASA Selects Companies to Advance Moon Mobility for Artemis Missions

Amazon Web Services lays off several hundred tech, sales staff- Reuters

Mitsubishi Corporation Joins Starlab Space as Strategic Partner, Equity Owner in Joint Venture

Muon Space Redefines LEO Satellite Constellations with the release of Muon Halo™ and over $60M in new contracts for 10 Muon Halo Spacecraft and Integrated Mission Services

Hydrosat Awarded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Grant

ESA's solar eclipse maker, Proba-3

We Secure £2.25m Investment To Accelerate Helix Products To Market Release

Solstar Space Awarded $1.25 Million U.S. Space Force AFWERX/AFVENTURES Phase II SBIR Contract for the Slayton Wideband Space Communicator

Scout Space to Deliver Owl Product Line of Advanced Long-range Vision Payload Systems

Explosive green 'Mother of Dragons' comet now visible in the Northern Hemisphere- Live Science

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We're starting with a little birthday celebration today. 75 years ago, nations from across Europe and North America formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, otherwise known as NATO.

The Alliance's creation was part of an effort to serve three purposes - deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.

Some things never change, but space is increasingly important to the now 32-nation Alliance.

NATO recognises space as a new operational domain, alongside air, land, maritime and cyberspace, the more you know, it's a happy birthday NATO.

Today is April 4th, 2024.

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

NASA selects three companies to develop lunar terrain vehicles.

AWS layoffs hit the aerospace and satellite team.

Mitsubishi Corporation joined Starlab Space, and Maria is speaking to Andre Kerns, Marketing Director at Amazon Web Services Aerospace and Satellite Division.

We're working with AWS to bring the AWS in orbit podcast to the 39th Space Symposium next week, so stay tuned for a preview of what to expect.

We start out Intel Briefing with some good news for three commercial organisations, awarded large contracts to advance capabilities for a lunar terrain vehicle, or LTV, that Artemis astronauts will use to travel around the lunar surface.

NASA has contracted Intuitive Machines, Venturi Astrolab and Lunadorn, Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity or IDIQ, firm fixed price task orders with a combined maximum potential value of $4.6 billion for all awards.

The Lunadorn team is led by Luna Outpost as the prime contractor, along with its principal partner Lockheed Martin and teammates General Motors, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and MDA Space.

According to NASA, the awards leverage the space agency's expertise in delivering and operating rovers to build commercial capabilities that support scientific discovery and long-term human exploration on the moon.

NASA says it intends to begin using the LTV for crewed operations during Artemis 5.

Intuitive Machines, Lunadorn and Venturi Astrolab will begin with a feasibility task order, which will be a year-long special study to develop a system that meets NASA's requirements through the preliminary design project phase.

The agency will issue a subsequent request for a task order proposal to an eligible provider or providers for a demonstration mission to continue developing the LTV, deliver it to the surface of the moon and validate its performance and safety ahead of Artemis 5.

NASA states that they anticipate making an award to only one provider for the demonstration.

NASA will issue an additional task order to provide unpressurized rover capabilities for the agency's moonwalking and scientific exploration needs through 2039.

Amazon Web Services has let go of several hundred sales, marketing and tech roles, including at its aerospace and satellite division.

This is the latest in a series of job cuts by the parent company Amazon.com.

The exact number laid off is not confirmed, but a few hundred each at AWS's sales, marketing and global services division, and the physical stores technology team have been impacted.

Amazon spokesperson Duncan Nisham said in a statement that quote, "These decisions are difficult but necessary as we continue to invest higher and optimise resources to deliver innovation to our customers."

Mitsubishi Corporation has been announced as a partner and equity owner in Starlab Space, the joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus to build a new commercial Leo destination.

Starlab Space says this new partnership increases their reach beyond the transatlantic partnership and transforms the joint venture into a global organisation.

Mitsubishi Corporation is expected to leverage its capabilities to increase the value of Starlab, using space research to enhance and accelerate terrestrial product development in multiple industries and expand access to space-based technologies globally.

Additionally, this partnership is expected to expand access for the Japanese space economy and industrial base into the Leo marketplace by harnessing Starlab's cutting-edge technologies and capabilities.

California-based satellite manufacturer Muon Space has introduced a new product and announced that it's already secured over $60 million to design, build and operate 10 satellites launching throughout 2025 and 2026.

The Muon Halo satellites range in size from 150kg to 500kg with remote sensing payloads.

Johnny Dyer, CEO of Muon Space, says that the new product range will allow the company to "support the highest performance, custom mission requirements with a standardised, highly qualified hardware and software platform."

Climate Tech company HydroSat has been awarded a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also known as NOAA.

The grant is part of the agency's Small Business Innovation Research or CIDBA programme.

NOAA's CIDBA programme funds the development of innovative solutions that demonstrate commercial potential and will enable HydroSat to explore a range of use cases spanning five focus areas - agriculture, aquaculture, drought, wildfire and urban heat.

HydroSat's grant with NOAA includes a combination of high-resolution imagery and geotechnical analysis to deliver insights related to those four areas, as well as commercial applications to support different industries and levels of government.

While North America goes crazy with Eclipse fever, the Europeans are saying "hold my beer".

The European Space Agency has unveiled a pair of spacecraft making up its new Prober 3 mission, planned to produce orbital solo eclipse events on demand.

Well, not like the natural event that's going to pass through on April 8th, this will be a simulated eclipse to study the sun's corona.

Prober 3's Ocule to Spacecraft will fly around 150km away from the second chronograph spacecraft.

The pair will line up with the sun so precisely that the ocule to a cast a shadow onto the face of the chronograph, blanking out the sun to reveal the corona.

The spacecraft are currently undergoing pre-flight testing in Belgium.

UK-based software developer Bright Ascension Limited has closed a £2.25m investment round through a convertible loan from Scottish Enterprises, Capital for Colleagues and other investors.

The company says that this represents a significant step forward in Bright Ascension's journey towards bringing its Helix products to the market.

The funds include £1.5m previously secured in October 2023 as a bridging loan from C4C, alongside others and existing shareholders.

The bridging loan transitions into a convertible loan as part of the current funding round.

Bright Ascension says it is committed to reshaping the new space software landscape through its technology and development of its next-generation Helix suite of satellite software products.

That concludes our briefing for today.

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

I've also included two AFWORK CIDBACONTRACT announcements for Scout Space and Solstar Space.

Congratulations to both companies.

Haiti Minus Crew, N2K Space is working with Amazon Web Services Aerospace and Satellite to bring the AWS in orbit podcast series to the 39th Space Symposium from April 8th to 11th.

We'll be broadcasting from the AWS booth, number 1036 in the North Hall from Tuesday through Thursday from 9am to 11am.

Come by the booth to catch us in action and share your story or email space@n2k.com to set up a meeting with our team.

Today, Maria is speaking to Andre Kearns, Marketing Director at Amazon Web Services Aerospace and Satellite Division.

Andre started by telling Maria about the AWS Aerospace and Satellite Division.

At AWS Aerospace and Satellite, we're really helping our customers to re-imagine their space missions on the cloud.

So what does that mean?

It means we're helping our customers to really start to think differently about how they build and operate their space systems.

Historically, space systems have been very siloed, right?

So the cloud provides this platform to manage space missions virtually in a more interoperable way.

As an example, we're providing our customers the opportunity to automate their data workflows.

All of this massive space data that space customers and satellite operators are capturing in space, downlinking into the cloud to use it.

We're helping to automate those data workflows so that they can more quickly turn the data that they're capturing into useful information.

We're helping them to accelerate innovation because we have this leading-edge platform and we're delivering new services and features all the time that our customers are able to leverage.

Ultimately, we want them to be able to utilize the cloud to really realize mission success.

We believe that we offer the most advanced, secure cloud infrastructure, the broadest set of services and features, as I mentioned.

Then we just bring to the table extensive space industry expertise.

We built the Aerospace and Satellite Business Unit and we envision it as a team of talented individuals that have expertise both in the space industry and also in the cloud.

We sit at that intersection and we work to meet the needs of our customers.

As an outsider who has been learning about aerospace in general in the past few years, it's been fascinating my background in tech seeing how cloud has come in to the aerospace world and really just transformed how business works and what people are able to do with.

I think a lot of us think of as what used to be very analog and really digitizing that future and transforming what people are able to do and the insights people are able to drive.

It's been amazing to see.

I can absolutely see how AWS would be playing a huge part in that.


We're excited to work with our customers to drive this transformation.

We talked about the space industry, but really what I get excited about is when you start to think about all the different mission types across the space industry that we get to work with every day.

There's aerospace and aviation.

There's launch propulsion and infrastructure.

There are all of these satellite communication providers.

There are satellite operators that are capturing imagery and data of the earth.

Then there are organizations and providers that analyze all that data that we call a geospatial data often that satellite providers are capturing to derive insights rapidly about the earth to help us protect the earth.

There's a number of providers now that are delivering space situational awareness solutions because it's getting crowded up there in low earth orbit.

Then of course, there's human space flight and exploration.

There are all these just amazing, exciting, mind-blowing mission types that we get to work with every single day.

As a marketer, as a marketing leader, I see myself as the chief storyteller.

We get to tell stories about how we're helping our customers to reimagine their space missions on the cloud.

The stories that we're able to tell, the references we're able to provide, really help the industry and other potential customers understand how they too can advance their missions leveraging the cloud.

We have this great event coming up, the Space Symposium.

It's going to be my first time going, so I'm actually really excited about this.

I know AWS is going to have a really interesting presence there and is going to be telling a lot of those stories.

Can you tell me a little bit about what those stories are, maybe if there's any overarching theme that might unite them that people can look forward to learning more about?

Yeah, sure.

We're super excited about this year's Space Symposium.

We're going to be offering attendees more opportunities than we ever had before about how to use space and cloud technologies to accelerate innovation, to build faster, to explore more and farther.

Just a couple of examples of how we're going to do that.

We will have a booth.

When you come to visit our booth, you'll find really immersive demonstrations that let you have experiences like, for example, the experience run using generative AI to easily and quickly find the information you need across massive mission documents.

You'll learn how to develop satellites faster using digital twin simulations.

Then you'll be able to use virtual reality to see space data in a whole new way and do more with it.

Those are just examples of the immersive interactive demonstrations that we're going to be bringing with us to Space Symposium.

We're on a podcast, so we're excited to share that we will be broadcasting our AWS and Orbit podcast every day at Space Symposium right within our booth at Space Symposium.

We're inviting industry leaders and customers to come and talk about how they're exploring capabilities uniquely offered by both Space Tech and cloud.

Examples would be accessing satellite data faster so you can do more with it and then keeping maritime operations safer.

Then we're delivering thought leadership through a handful of talks and demos both at our booth and as part of the overall Space Symposium program, which are going to showcase solutions, AWS solutions like AWS Ground Station and our machine learning capability for high-throughput satellite data processing and our cloud-based satellite command and control capabilities that we offer customers and many other really innovative capabilities that are enabling the industry today.

I'm picking up when you're talking about the thought leadership and also just sort of like the general thread of what's being woven through a lot of what the booth is going to have on offer.

There are a number of threads there, but I'm picking up on things like speed to enablement, also the importance of like the amount of things that people can do that maybe they weren't aware that cloud can enable.

This feels like a very obvious question, but I am actually genuinely curious why these themes, these are fascinating angles to go with.

What was that conversation to arrive at those themes?

I'll get us to Space Symposium, right?

I would say that the space industry is really growing at its fastest pace since the Apollo program.

The industry is launching more satellites in the orbit and at a faster pace than ever before.

That's driven mainly by commercial organizations that are building smaller satellites, so you can launch more satellites within a given payload and then also driving reusable launch vehicles, which is accelerating the number of launches that you can do within a given year for both public and private missions.

So all of these satellites that are now going up into low Earth orbit are going to be capturing and transmitting massive amounts of data.

The amount of data to and from space is going to, this just blows my mind, experts anticipate it's going to reach more than 500 exabytes of information by 2030.

I didn't even know that was a unit of measure exabytes.


It's hard to really comprehend exabytes and we're talking about 500 of them.

So that's a pretty sizable increase in space data volume within the next decade.

And again, it's driven largely by these satellite-based connectivity and Earth observation companies and operators.

Right, because you've got images especially.

I mean, those take up a lot of space.

A lot of space, very heavy data.

And so all that data is being captured, but it's completely useless unless you can access it quickly, get all the metadata, be able to bring analytics to that data and apply it and derive insights and really find exactly what you need to make decisions.

And so this is what to me, digital transformation and resilience is all about.

And so I think that's our sustained focus for our business, delivering digital transformation for the global space business and then also building resilience for the business and for the industry.

And so that's also our particular focus at Space Imposing.

Welcome back.

Calling all GOT fans.

Winter is coming.

I've always wanted to say that.

Okay, GOT is Game of Thrones for those not into the fantasy stories that involve medieval England meets direwolves, dragons and white walkers.

There's a comet in the sky called Mother of Dragons and this might be your last chance to catch it.

The Mother of Dragons Green Comet officially known as Comet 12P/Pons Brooks completes a single orbit around the sun once every 71 years.

The last time it passed by Earth was in 1954.

It'll be visible after dusk across the northern hemisphere and will be as brightest when it approaches the sun on April 21st.

Recent observations of the comet have revealed a hidden spiral of light surrounding its frigid heart.

Oh, I see where the GOT reference comes from now.

This celestial object is a little more than unusual.

It's a cry volcanic or cold volcano comet, meaning that it regularly erupts spewing the contents of its icy core into space, making the comet look brighter than normal.

So dust off the telescopes and look up and if you happen to capture a picture of the Mother of Dragons, feel free to share it with us.

That's it for Team Minus for April 4th, 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 Team 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 mixed 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 Kauff.

Our dear host Maria is recovering from streps, so please wish her well.

I'm Alice Karuth.

Thanks for listening.

[Music] Team Minus.


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