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SES to acquire Intelsat.

SES to acquire Intelsat for $3.1 billion. Kuva Space awarded €1.8M to participate in ESA’s CSS program. China’s Shenzhou-17 crew land back on Earth. And more.




SES has agreed to acquire Intelsat through the purchase of 100% of the equity of Intelsat Holdings S.a.r.l. for a cash consideration of $3.1 billion and certain contingent value rights. Kuva Space has been awarded a €1.8 million contract to participate in the European Space Agency’s Continuous Safety Services program. The Shenzhou 17 crew have returned to Earth after completing a six-month mission aboard the China’s Tiangong space station, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest is Musa Mishamo, founder of Kilimanjaro Mobile Planetarium.

You can find out more about the Kilimanjaro Mobile Planetarium on their website.

Selected Reading

SES to acquire Intelsat in compelling transaction focused on the future

Helsinki-based Kuva Space received a €1.8 million contract to join ESA's civil security from space program- EU-Startups

Unseenlabs Announces Next-Generation Satellite Constellation for 2026 to Monitor Sea, Land, and Space Environments from Space- Business Wire

Preligens joins Capella's Analytics Partner Program to accelerate the development of Advanced SAR-Based Geospatial Analytics

Chinese astronauts return to earth after six months in space - ABC News

China set to launch high-stakes mission to moon's 'hidden' side- Reuters

Boosting Australian-Indian commercial space partnerships

KBR Announces First Quarter Fiscal 2024 Financial Results

NASA’s Optical Comms Demo Transmits Data Over 140 Million Miles

Slingshot Aerospace Report Reveals Increasing Risks of Operating in Space

Most U.S. governors oppose moving some National Guard units to Space Force

NASA Administrator Names New Stennis Space Center Director

Asteroid Institute and Google Cloud Identify 27,500 New Asteroids, Revolutionizing Minor Planet Discovery with Cloud Technology

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Get the DeLorean out of the garage, everybody!

We're going to travel back in time today in our T-minus time machine to May 2023.

Back then, it was the time of a mega-merger in satellite communications, as Viacet had finalized its acquisition of Inmarsat and became king of the Satcom world for a cool $7 billion.

Well, that's the old news.

Watch out, Viacet and Inmarsat, because here comes the new mega-merger on the block, as SES is set to buy Intelsat.

Today is April 30th, 2024.

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

[Music] SES to acquire Intelsat for $3.1 billion, who've a space awarded 1.8 million euros to participate in ESA's CSS program.

China's Shenzhou-17 crew have landed back on Earth.

And our guest today is Musa Mishamo, founder of Kili Manjaro Mobile Planetarium in Tanzania.

He's doing incredible work in outreach and education, so stay with us to hear more about what he's doing.

[Music] It's Tuesday, everybody.

Let's get right into it.

We're starting our briefing today with some behemoth satellite communications news, as you heard.

Yes, SES has agreed to acquire Intelsat through the purchase of 100% of the equity of Intelsat holdings for a cash consideration of a mere $3.1 billion and certain contingent value rights.

The mega-merger, according to the two companies, will create a multi-orbit operator with greater coverage, improved resiliency, expanded suite of solutions, enhanced resources to profitably invest in innovation, and benefit from the collective talent expertise and track record of both companies.

Now, we should add, very importantly, here that the acquisition is not official as of yet.

Their transaction is, of course, subject to relevant regulatory clearances and filings, and customary provisions concerning cooperation and measures and seeking such regulatory clearances.

All which is to say that it's expected to be received during the second half of 2025.

Yep, the merger won't happen until next year.

It has, however, been unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of both companies, and Intelsat shareholders holding approximately 73% of the common shares have entered into customary support agreements, requiring them to vote in favor of the transaction.

Adel Alsale, CEO of SES, commented this, "This important transformational agreement strengthens our business, enhances our ability to deliver world-class customer solutions, and generates significant value for our shareholders in a value-accretive acquisition," which is underpinned by sizable, you can say that again, and readily executable synergies.

Now, staying with satellite tech, Finland-based CUVA Space has been awarded a 1.8 million euro contract to participate in the European Space Agency's Continuous Safety Services Program.

The program is designed to provide advanced hyperspectral situational awareness information for monitoring and mitigating civil security and crisis events.

Five nations under ESA, and those would be Austria, Belgium, Finland, Portugal, and Switzerland, have contributed funding to create Smart Connect, which is a consortium of various technology actors led by Austrian company GeoVille.

They aim to revolutionize crisis communication for swift data exchange and timely provision of actionable innovation in emergency situations.

And staying in Europe but moving over to France now, and Unseen Labs have shared details about a new satellite constellation that they plan to launch in 2026.

Unseen Labs currently operates a satellite constellation specifically designed for maritime surveillance.

Their satellites have provided intelligence to combat illegal fishing, piracy, and other maritime threats, effectively covering vast areas at sea.

The company says it's expanding its surveillance capabilities to include terrestrial and space environments, in addition to maritime, with its upcoming constellation.

The new fleet of advanced 150 kilo satellites will be tailored to monitor a wider range of emissions across all domains, enhancing global security and compliance capabilities.

Capella Space has announced a new partnership with AI company, Prelegens.

Prelegens will leverage synthetic aperture radar imagery from Capella Space to complement its advanced expertise in optical imagery analytics.

The company say that this collaboration paves the way for significant advancements in SAR-based, AI-driven, geospatial intelligence solutions designed to support critical missions in defense and intelligence.

Taking a look at human spaceflight now, and the three-man Shenzhou-17 crew have returned to Earth after completing a six-month mission aboard China's Tiangong Space Station.

The crew landed at the Dongfang site in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the Gobi Desert.

The Shenzhou-18 crew arrived late last week to take over scientific research on board the orbiting space lab.

And brace yourself for the next big launch from China in the coming days.

China is planning to send a robotic spacecraft on a round trip to the moon's far side in the first of three technically demanding missions that will pave the way for an inaugural Chinese crew landing and a base on the lunar south pole.

The Chang'e-6 spacecraft is due to be launched soon, with the mission to collect soil and rocks from the side of the moon that is permanently facing away from Earth.

And we're going down under next, and the Australian government has announced funding for three collaborative space projects with India.

The projects will receive a total of 18 million Australian dollars, that's over 11 million US dollars, as part of the International Space Investment India Projects Program.

Each project will include a number of Australian and Indian partners who will help address climate change, boost manufacturing, and advanced artificial intelligence, among other objectives.

Turning our sights to financials now, KBR has announced its first quarter fiscal 2024 financial results.

The engineering company posted a revenue of 1.8 billion dollars, up 7% on a year over year basis.

Net income attributable to KBR was 93 million dollars, which is up 7 million dollars compared to first quarter 2023 due to higher gross profit.

KBR was also awarded 1.9 billion dollars of bookings and options in the quarter.

So overall, very good results for KBR.

And you can read the full report in our show notes.

And we're psyched to hear the latest update from the Psyche mission.

The onboard deep space optical communications technology demonstration continues to break really cool records, while the asteroid-bound spacecraft doesn't rely on optical communications to send data, the new technology has proven that it is up to the task.

After interfacing with the Psyche's radio frequency transmitter, the laser communications demo sent a copy of engineering data from over 140 million miles away, and that would be a mere one and a half times the distance between the Earth and the Sun, by the way.

The demo has shown that even at this extraordinary distance, it can transmit test data at a maximum rate of 25 megabits per second from the flight laser transceivers near infrared downlink laser.

That is really no small feat.

In fact, it's a better download speed than I can receive at my house some days, honestly.

So bravo to the Psyche team for being faster than my ISP.

We look forward to live streaming from the moon and maybe even one day from Mars.

[Music] And that concludes our Intel briefing for today.

We've added some must-read articles in our show notes today, including Sling Shot Aerospace's report on the risks of operating in space, the latest on plans for a national space guard in the United States, and an announcement on the new Stennis Space Center director.

All those stories and links to further reading on all the headlines that we've mentioned are found at space.ntuk.com, and just click on this episode title.

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Our guest today is Musa Mishamo, founder of Keelie Manjaro Mobile Planetarium.

My name is Musa Mishamo.

I'm the founder of Keelie Manjaro Planetarium.

This one is the first planetarium in Tanzania, and it's the first experience for Tanzanian people.

Planetarium has been there for almost 100 years, but it has never been in Tanzania, and this one is the first one in the country.

So the idea is to give children exposure to space science and astronomy, give them an idea of having science so that they can get into science and have innovation, and they can even solve African problems so that is the idea of having the Magella Planetarium in the country.

Thank you so much for joining me today, and for coming on the show to tell me more about the amazing outreach that you're doing with all these students.

Tell me a little bit more about the Mobile Planetarium.

How you got the idea to bring it into existence?

Yeah, so the idea came when we saw a lot of advancements in Europe and America.

There is a lot of missions to the moon, missions to Mars, and we saw a country lagging behind, people they've ever even never looked at it through a telescope.

So when I visited Europe, I saw a big planetarium, and I said, "At least I have to bring this amazing experience to children in Tanzania.

They can have a feeling of space and love innovation and science as well."

So the idea is to make them love science, and at the end, they can be innovative and solve African problems because we know space can solve a lot of African challenges.

Yeah, absolutely, and it's amazing to see how different countries are using space to address their specific needs.

It's really been fascinating to watch that.

Tell me a little bit more about what the students experience when they come into the planetarium.

What kind of things are you showing them?

Yeah, so what we are showing them, we are showing them space-related contents, like missions to Mars, their Apollo missions from the Earth to the Universe.

We show them astronauts moving from the Earth to the Universe to space.

So we are fascinating them and they feel like they are traveling from the Earth to space because inside the planetarium, you can get that feeling like you are traveling from the Earth to space.

So we get them loving science and most of them, they want to become astronomers, some of them, they want to become pilots, some of them, they want to become aeronautical engineers, and most of them, actually, they dream to travel to space.

So after the show, they say, "Oh, I want to go to space," and usually it tells them, "Okay, you are the one who will take Tanzania to space," and even to the moon, yeah.

I keep those dreams going.

That's how it starts.

That's so beautiful.

I love hearing when kids are inspired like that.

Yeah, so I would imagine you're also doing outreach, not just with the planetarium, but you mentioned earlier also high-altitude balloons and telescopes are part of this?

Yeah, so we are doing high-altitude balloon and telescope as well.

So apart from the mobile planetarium, we have telescope.

Telescope has been there for 400 years, but it's very rare for a child in Tanzania to have looked through one.

So we give them this experience so that they can see different sky events.

So we do start getting events in different regions of Tanzania.

We have very, very dark sky.

Unlike other developed countries, they have polluted sky, but our sky is very clear and it's very dark.

So we give them that feeling using a telescope and higher-altitude balloon as well.

So we do some launches.

They do some small experiments.

They're taking some payloads to the stratosphere to give them the feeling of space experiments.

And in the future, actually, we are now trying to bring more knowledge apart from outreach and education.

We are doing more in educating the community in general about space because our country now, last year, they mentioned they want to launch a satellite to space.

That will be a first satellite in the country.

But most of the people, they question, in Tanzania, why is the government investing to space?

We don't have reliable electricity.

We don't have water.

We have a lot of challenges.

Now we are trying to explain to them what are the best emphasis of space.

For example, we know that air observation can solve a lot of challenges.

And we have a lot of natural resources in the country like forestry, mining, agriculture.

So we are teaching them, we are giving them awareness on how space technology can make use of all of these natural resources, forestry, mining, weather forecasting, now we have challenges in climate change.

So space can go even beyond that.

So we tell them these mobile phones you see, TV in the country.

So everything is related to space.

So there are a lot of things that space can solve, a lot of challenges, natural resources and disaster management in the country.

So we are giving that awareness through our program.

So that the community can be aware of what space technology can offer the country.

I love that you're doing that.

It's so important.

And it's also the questions that you're getting about why does space matter when we have so many other things we've got to be dealing with.

It's a very good question that people have.

And I'm glad that you have a great response to it as well.

Because we hear that all over the world, really.

A lot of people wonder why is space ever a priority given everything else that's going on?

And I'm curious when you're having these conversations with people, how, either with adults or with students, I mean, how are they receiving that?

Are they going, oh yeah, that makes sense.

Or are they sort of maybe skeptical or somewhere in between?

Yeah, most of them they see it makes sense because now we are preparing a lot of online webinars with community in general and students and make them aware of what the space technology can offer.

So now we are doing a lot of presentation on how satellite images they can save them in the precision farming.

We are now doing some projects in the precision farming as well using global navigation satellite system.

We got some system to install on tractors.

So we are using our GNSS to restore out of steering system.

So we have been doing this kind of demonstration and actually now people they start doing seeing how space can help a lot.

So using different kind of demonstration and training, they become aware of what kind of space technology can solve.

Even technology like TV, even mobile phones because we have a lot of mobile phones and telecom communication in the country.

So we are trying to explain to them all of these they use space technologies and through S observation, we can get a lot using satellite images.

And now when the country is planning to launch a satellite so we can get satellite data to do even using remote sensing, we can save a lot in weather forecast, climate, I mean, agriculture and other matters in the countries.

Yeah, that really affect people's lives and you know, they'll see that tangible benefit.

It's always amazing when people can realize what space can do.

It's really a wonderful thing because otherwise it does seem very abstract and I understand that.

It's not a thing that we can easily see.

I love hearing stories from people like yourself who work with students because you're there and that really magical moment when a lot of students, their minds are open to these incredible possibilities that they've maybe never considered.

I'm wondering if you have a favorite story or experience you want to share.

Like when you mentioned when kids first see the rings of Saturn, I love that moment when people first see the rings of Saturn through a telescope.

So anything like that you want to share?

I'd love to hear it.

Yeah, so up to now we have reached out to 15,000 students in the country and we are planning to reach to 50,000.

But the interesting thing is that most of the kids, first of all, they ask me, have you been to space?

Yes, because they like that experience and most of them actually now they are starting to love to become astronomers and aeronautical engineers.

And during our visits, I can see for example in the remote areas of Tanzania, so it's the first time for some of them they're getting scared to get in the dome.

But when they get it, they say this is the best experience ever because we have been studying this in the textbooks.

We have been drawing Jupiter and Saturn just on the paper.

But being able to see them using these visuals and it's make like reality and we can, I think we feel a lot and we understand most of the classroom lessons.

For example, the solar system, they understand more the topics of solar system, the reflection of light and other physics and the geograph topics when they get into the dome.

So most during our visits, we bring to them the reality and say, "Oh, I've been studying this a lot."

But being able to see is like I'm traveling to space.

Yeah, absolutely.

There's nothing like it.

There's really nothing like that demonstration of everything that you've been learning and finally so many things start to make sense.

That's such a great moment.

I love that.

Musa, I've had a really nice time talking with you and I really appreciate you telling me so much about the program that you're working on and also your long term vision.

And I wish you all the best because it's a really, really wonderful cause.

I want to make sure that I give you the last word if there's anything that you want to share with our audience that maybe we haven't talked about.

You want to let people know or just let just to share.

We are now planning to launch a lot of space-based projects, especially in space observation and global navigation satellite system.

Now we are giving awareness of Genesis applications and we started with agriculture.

We have installed some of the auto steering system on tractors for precision farming and we are planning to go to drones, spraying drones in agriculture.

So those are the kind of projects we are planning to do and we are hoping when the government is going to launch satellites, they are going to be more awareness of space activities in the country.

So we are welcoming investors and any support from people if they are willing to support this kind of children because now we want to reach out to 50,000 students in the next three years.

Because this planetarium now it has been a talk of the town because we are getting a lot of calls from different regions of Tanzania.

Some of them, they are 1500-kilometre.

They want us to go there and give this experience so it has been a good experience in the country.

And what we want now to do is to have like four mobile domes in different regions of the country, maybe south, north, east and west, so that we can reach to more students and give this kind of experience.

We are trying to make it more accessible so that people can get more information about space and we can have this kind of talks and conversation in the country on how we can level this space technology to solve a lot of African problems, particularly Tanzania.

[Music] We'll be right back.

[Music] Welcome back.

New discoveries in space happen almost daily, but not normally to the tune of 27,000 discoveries at once, which is what a collaborative program between the Asteroid Institute and Google Cloud have just achieved.

They've identified 27,500 new asteroid discovery candidates.

The majority of the new discoveries are main belt asteroids that orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter, but the Asteroid Institute also discovered more than 100 near-Earth asteroids whose orbits take them much closer to Earth.

Now, we should note these are not new observations.

The partnership leveraged Google Cloud technology to run sophisticated algorithms developed by the Asteroid Institute and University of Washington researchers and by mining historical data sets from the Noir Lab Source Catalog Data Release 2.

Yes, as we've been noting with some recent stories in the past few weeks, old is gold even when it comes to data.

The work, which took place over several weeks, has the potential to enable the mapping of the solar system and protect the Earth from collisions, advancing the field of minor planet discovery.

So cool.

We do wonder what they're going to find next.

[Music] And that is it for T-minus for April 30th, 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 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, this episode was produced by Alice Karuth.

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 Karp.

And I'm Maria Varmausus.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow.

[Music] T-minus.


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