Space Force and aggressor satellites. Lockheed says LINUSS is a win. Amazon’s new startup cohort. GPT for overhead. ESA preps human spaceflight. And...
Running the gamut.
C-band will win the ground station wars. DoD needs more money. The US Air Force requests priority access to S-band. BlackSky asks for lower orbits. And more.
New report from Markets & Markets says that the satellite ground station market will be worth $115.4 billion by 2028. The Department of Defense requests money to cover the real cost of commercial use of their launch ranges. Air Force Generals warn that commercial sales of their portion of the electromagnetic spectrum could cost the military upwards of $2 billion, and more.
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Our guest for today’s episode is former NASA Chief Information Officer Renee Wynn on managing risk in space. You can follow Renee on LinkedIn.
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>> Maria Varmazis: Here in the US, it's National Space Day and National Astronaut Day for 2023. And no excuse is ever needed for tequila, but if you need one, it also happens to be Cinco de Mayo. Oh, yeah. And we're talking about spectrum band allocation today, a couple of times, in fact. And while that's not perhaps the most fun topic, it is so, so crucial for how space systems work and how we all communicate with each other. So imbibe whatever you need to make that easier, and let's get to it. Shall we?
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It is May fifth, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis, and this is T-Minus.
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C-band will win the ground station wars. The DOD needs more money. The US Air Force asks for priority access to S-band. Black sky asks for lower orbits. And new views out of stealth. And don't miss my conversation with former NASA Chief Information Officer Renee Wynn, all about managing risk in space. Stay with us.
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Now, let's dive into today's intel briefing. In our continuing coverage of what we, and perhaps only we, are calling the ground station wars, a new report out from market research firm Markets and Markets says that the satellite ground station market by 2028 will be worth $115.4 billion, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 13.4%. Now, high demand for 5G backhaul support, as well as satellite-based services including broadband internet for remote areas are two of the reasons driving this growth. But the report also warns that the level of growth forecast might mean that the upfront cost for ongoing maintenance and operation demands could be hard for providers to front or keep up with long term. Also, because of it's use in 5G network support, this report expects that the C-band portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is already heavily used for satellite communications, is going to lead the way in spectrum use by 2028, potentially edging out KA and KU bands, there. And overall, it's the mobile ground stations that will be the dominant player, here, and that's one of the reasons why this report projects that Europe will be the leader in the growing ground station market. Namely, mobile ground stations are especially needed in response for secure satellite missions for defense purposes. The Department of Defense wants more money. I know, that's not headline news, but even after their 2024 fiscal year budget increase to $30 billion on space, Vice Chief of Space Operations General David Thompson says it's not enough. The reason they say they need those extra dollars: well, to keep up with the real cost of commercial use of their launch ranges. Decades old policies have prevented the US military from recouping the true cost of launching commercial rockets from its ranges, with the DOD limited to charging the company for only commodities provided like electricity, propellants, or other services. They also want the commercial sector to share the cost of investments needed in approving the ranges. All this as analysts warn that the DOD isn't allocating enough of their budget on buying in the commercial space services, such as imaging or weather data. It just seems like everyone wants in on the government pie, and that includes the telecommunications companies who are looking to increase their piece of the broadband pie. But the US Air Force Chief of Staff General Brown and Chief of Space Operations General Saltsman warned the government to back off from their slice. At a Senate Armed Services committee meeting, the generals warned that the commercial sales of their portion of the electromagnetic spectrum known as the S-band could cost the military upwards of $2 billion and severely compromise their operations. Lucrative sales of other parts of the spectrum, as we've talked about earlier, have tempted some members of congress to call on the Federal Communications Commission, or the FCC, to auction off access to the S-band. Saltsman told committee members that the Space Force is developing a radar in that band to enhance its space domain awareness and several hundred million dollars have already been put into development. The general warned that the use of a different portion of the spectrum would not be as capable in determining and discriminating capabilities in deep space. Okay, you've jumped into your vehicle and the red light is flashing on the dashboard. Low fuel. Not a big deal if you're in most locations, perhaps. But imagine that issue in space. It's a very real issue, apparently plaguing Black Sky, who has appealed to the FCC for special temporary authority to move two of its satellites to lower orbits due to a lack of propellant. Global 7 and Global 8 imaging satellites are authorized to go as low as 386 kilometers under current licensing, but Black Sky wants permission to operate the satellites at altitudes as low as 340 kilometers. The vehicles were expected to have a 3-year life span after their launch in August 2020, so the move comes as no real surprise. Black Sky says its satellites will, of course, descend to the Earth by force of gravity after exhaustion of propulsion capability. And there's nothing like a bold entrance to a party, and certainly satellite newcomers New View have done just that. Coming out of stealth mode this week and touting a $1.2 billion raised in early adopter agreements. The Orlando based Earth observation company announced its plans to build the first commercia light detection and ranging, or LIDAR satellite constellation to collect 3D imaging of the earth. New View says its constellation will collect data over 100 times faster than current commercial aerial solutions, opening new capabilities to the geospatial market, which is expected to grow into a $1.7 trillion industry. Defense and aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin has announced that it is realigning its space business operations to go from 5 lines of business to 3. The company expects to focus feature operations on commercial civil space, strategic and missile defense systems, and national security space. The reorganization aims to more effectively support national security needs in space by aligning all defense-oriented business units under a single mission organization. Instead of an entire rolodex, the US Department of Defense now only needs to have one Lockheed Martin phone number on speed dial. Lockheed's national security space business will be led by vice president and general manager Maria Demaree. Hopping across the pond, now. And while the UK is in full coronation mode, their aerospace sector is breaking ground. Orbital Express Launch, also known as Orbex, has started construction at the mainland's first vertical launch site in Scotland. The UK based company is developing a small commercial orbital rocket called Prime, which it hopes to launch from the Southerland space port up to 12 times a year. Orbex is headquartered in Moray in Scotland and has subsidiaries in Denmark and Germany. Space has always had appeal in Hollywood, and it wasn't that long ago that Russia completed its first movie filmed on the ISS, and apparently Tom Cruise will be starring in a future space movie in orbit, and now we are also just one month away from a new program that will send celebrities to Mars. Well, sort of. You can read all about the celebronauts - and yes, that is now a real word - and more at our selected reading section on our website at space.n2k.com.
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And that completes our briefing for today. Stay with me for my discussion with retired NASA Chief Information Officer Renee Wynn. And 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're airing the full conversation I had with former NASA CIO Renee Wynn. We talk about her fascinating career and how she translated a long stent at the EPA to working at NASA, and more on what she learned and also what she advises on managing risk for space systems. It's a really fascinating, and honestly fun conversation. Check it out while you're mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, folding laundry, or driving your kids to the game. You won't want to miss it. You might have noticed lately that there have been more and more calls for classifying space systems as critical infrastructure. Can you imagine the risks confronting multi-billion-dollar government assets both on the ground and on orbit, and what's involved in protecting them from all kinds of threats? Well, good thing there are people whose job it is to think about those kinds of risks, and I recently spoke to one of them.
>> Renee Wynn: So I'm Renee Wynn, and I'm the former Chief Information Officer at NASA, and almost exactly to this day, I retired from the United States Federal Government after a 30-year career, and my last stent was NASA.
>> Maria Varmazis: Oh, congratulations!
>> Renee Wynn: Thank you. I know, three years. I made it and I'm having a blast in this, what I call my preferment stage of life. I am doing what I prefer to do. I'm not very good at 'no' because really fun stuff comes my way, and my focus now is all about helping others be successful. Now, people - as the former CIO of NASA, I'm sure a few folks at NASA believed that my job was to make their lives miserable as we put into place cybersecurity. But honestly, I was really about their success, which included protecting them from cybersecurity attacks.
>> Maria Varmazis: So when we think about these amazing systems in space that we all rely on, what kind of threats are facing these systems?
>> Renee Wynn: Yeah. So I don't -
>> Maria Varmazis: Loaded question.
>> Renee Wynn: So we talk about the really fun stuff, right? So then there's this other part. Right? I'm going to start with cybersecurity because that's what I got to learn, right, as the CIO of NASA. Cybersecurity is a serious threat to national security and to personal security. So yeah, satellites can be hacked. So if you're a scientist and you're depending upon satellite data coming down to write your papers, or make discoveries, or inform your models about space and that, then you need the highest integrity of data, and you need that assurance. So you don't - you need to assure that. And how do you assure that? And that is you put mitigations in place to protect from a denial of service, a change of data, or other events that can happen in the cybersecurity world. They're spoofing in that, and we've seen some stories on it, but that can happen at the satellite. Now, some of the satellite stuff to do is on the higher end of cost, but since nation states invest in cybersecurity on the offensive side, let's just assume they've invested properly, and they can make a difference in those satellites. There's another - this is a cool thing, but to me it's a very scary thing. We can catch satellites, now. We've done it.
>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, it's so wild. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
>> Renee Wynn: Yeah. So if I can catch it to like fix it, that means I can probably catch it to do something nefarious.
>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah. Or just deorbit it. Right? Just completely just -
>> Renee Wynn: Yeah, just whatever. Right. You're going to just make your next sci-fi moving about space and cyber security. Oh, that's already been done. So and I'm not going to say anything because I don't want us to get in trouble for endorsements or anything like that. So you have the cybersecurity threat, and those threats are in the uplinks and downlinks, the satellite themselves, as well as your ground systems, as well. And frankly, you have insider threat, as well, with people. Always forget to talk about, but we have a recent leak, right, from an insider threat and the signs, they're harder to detect than -
>> Maria Varmazis: The human element, there.
>> Renee Wynn: Right?
>> Maria Varmazis: Yes. Yep. Yep.
>> Renee Wynn: So you've got that, and you've got space debris with everything. Right? We have this awesome piece that happened, but now space debris is getting to be a very serious issue, and it's being talked about a lot across the globe. As more countries are stepping in to have space programs, a lot going on in Africa and the Middle East to these programs because they can catch rides from SpaceX and other businesses. Right? You can make your satellite and there's several private sector businesses that offer ground systems as a purchasing thing. So now, it's the cost of the satellite, what centers do you want to put on it? What scientific data do you want to put on it - and, or capture with it? And then you create your satellite. So the cost of satellites are going down. They've got the nano satellites, the smaller ones and schools do that. So we're bringing down the cost, which is creating great curiosity, but those things die in space. And the countries are supposed to be responsible for it, you know. But it was easier before. Now, we have the problem is growing and I think pretty soon it's going to be exponential.
>> Maria Varmazis: And there's no agreed upon norms as yet. I mean, we're trying to get there, but.
>> Renee Wynn: We are trying to get to space norms. There are some space norms that are out there. There's a lot of questions being brought up about those space norms. Do they fit today's model? And my little pea brain has looked at them and in some cases, they hold, but not all cases because also, if you weren't at the table, we sometimes have a sort of, "Well, I wasn't there negotiating that, so does it really apply?" Or I'm slightly different than that, so there will be human reasons to not do it. So I think it's time they need to continue the discussions and reset the table, talk about space norms in a global world, now, both from an economics perspective as well as the way space is operating. Yep, it's time.
>> Maria Varmazis: Oh, beyond time. Right? Beyond time. We've been there. So something we had been chatting about before we started the interview was the report that came out recently saying that space needs to be classified as critical infrastructure. I wanted to get your thoughts on that, because to me, that felt like a really big move when that report came out. So what are your thoughts?
>> Renee Wynn: Yeah, I think the timing is right now. This is - this issue has been talked about a lot in the background for quite a while, and on April fourteenth, the time to designate space systems as critical infrastructure, that report was issued, and a lot of good research went into that one. And just, you know, if you look just at pictures, which are always a great way to tell a story, it boils down to sort of three areas of threats, and the report is much more detailed, and actually, it's a very good read, I thought, but I'm interested in this stuff.
>> Maria Varmazis: We'll put a link in the show notes for folks.
>> Renee Wynn: Yeah. It would be great to take a look at this one and we'll talk a few a little bit about some of the dissenting opinions, I think, as well. So there's the in orbit threats, which I've talked a little bit about from the space debris, cybersecurity threats. But people forget we have humans living in space. Right on the International Space Station, we've got astronauts, and the astronauts are from the US, as well as other countries, including Russia. Humans live in space, and when you get space debris, you got to maneuver International Space Station, and those maneuvers happen more and more regularly. And that's - we got it right. You know, it's just not the thing you want to have happen on your watch. But we have to remember that we've got humans up there, and we're contemplating space tourism, and there is that already started. And the United States, in partnership with lots of other countries, are establishing Gateway, another lab, a space lab. And so again, you're putting these expensive assets, which have benefit to humanity and now you've really got to think about how to protect space differently and naming it as critical infrastructure is not the way you do that. I already mentioned the uplink and downlink and what can happen with that, and it's a fairly expensive proposition, but you know, nation states are doing this on a regular basis. And you even have launch threats. Just straight collision. Yeah, and we, you know, things don't go as planned. Everything is a learning event, and you also can have a denial service. Now, [inaudible] launch pads are pretty well protected, but people are trying to do these things, and so you've always got to be on alert that even if it hasn't been done, you should assume it can be done, and what are you going to do to mitigate those risks? So naming critical infrastructure, because we talked about different ways space impacts our daily lives. The GPS, the weather, internet, and such. And so yeah, now, all of the sudden it really matters. It is critical infrastructure. Human lives can be saved or lost, depending on the reliance with a space asset, a satellite, and the data that comes from space and the accuracy of that data. So I think it's time to really start the important debates on naming it as critical infrastructure, but it's going to be hard because space is part of critical infrastructure for some other element of critical infrastructure because it does already rely on satellites. And so they've got a debate. Do you pull all of it in in space systems as one collective? Or leave it in the already designated critical infrastructures and just capture what is left in that? So those debates go on. And so why name it as critical infrastructure? Because we'll treat it exactly as the name says. It's critical to humanity and there are real threats, and so we need to be smart about future development and mitigating current risks as best as one can. Which is, you know, risk scenario building and things like that, which also creates a lot of economic opportunities. Right? You know, people can now, you know, walk in and if they love risk, boy, talk about moving into an environment. You know, go into space economy and any number of businesses and the government, and any government, right, across the globe, and just be a risk manager. And boy, you're going to have some fun.
>> Maria Varmazis: I love that, and I was thinking what a great way to wrap up our interview, too, is just like this pitch for going into working into space and managing risk. Renee, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time today.
>> Renee Wynn: Oh, Maria, thank you so much. Make it a great one.
>> Maria Varmazis: And a reminder, this is only half of my conversation with Renee Wynn. You can hear the whole thing on tomorrow's episode of Deep Space. And Renee gets into her incredible career, and how she ended up going from the EPA to NASA. It's a really fascinating discussion. You don't want to miss it.
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And welcome back. Okay, chess fans, I know you've been wondering if we were going to cover this story, and now I'm here to make your day. If you are a chess nerd, you probably don't need me to tell you this, but for my fellow chess newbs, the FIDE World Chess Championship ran over the course of most of April, and it just concluded last week, so chess has been top of mind for a lot of the game's enthusiasts for the last month, both [inaudible] and in low earth orbit. In fact, it was the flight directors at NASA Mission Control versus ISS crew astronauts Frank Rubio, Woody Hoburg, Sultan Al Neyadi, and Steve Bowen for a week's long chess game aboard the ISS. Everyday, each team made a move or two as their packed schedules allowed, and the ISS crew moved the pieces on behalf of mission control at Johnson Space Center. No shenanigans occurred; I am sure. Mission control was white and ISS crew was black, and white moves first in chess, so technically, this gave mission control a slight advantage. However, as of April sixteenth, the ISS team checkmated mission control in a cross-board queen move. NASA even posted the full move list if you'd like to play along for yourself. And yeah, mission control asked for a rematch so game 2 is currently underway. Still, all I can wonder is how on earth are they shaking hands at the end of the game?
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And that's it for T-Minus for May the fifth. For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes at space.n2k.com. And we'd love to know what you think of our podcast. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit the survey in our show notes. Your feedback ensures that we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in this rapidly changing space industry. Now, 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 Carruth, mixing by Elliott Peltsman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliott Peltsman. Our executive producer is Brandon Carp. Our chief intelligence officer is Eric Tillman, and I'm Maria Varmzis. Have a wonderful weekend.
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