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Boeing’s Starliner delayed until May 17 at the earliest. D-Orbit’s ION rendezvous with the Otter pup. Redwire bioprinted heart tissue on the ISS. And more.




NASA and ULA have confirmed that the next launch attempt of the Boeing Starliner will be May 17 at the earliest. D-Orbit’s ION satellite has come within 1 kilometer of Starfish Space’s Otter Pup to collect data. Redwire Space has successfully 3D bioprinted the first live human heart tissue sample through its 3D BioFabrication Facility onboard the International Space Station, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Sara Kelley, Program Director at the Endeavour Scholarship Organization. 

You can connect with Sara on LinkedIn and learn more about the Endeavour Scholarship on their website.

Selected Reading

Atlas 5 valve repair will delay Starliner’s first crewed mission to May 17 at the earliest – Spaceflight Now

Starfish Space and D-Orbit complete orbital rendezvous, bringing Otter Pup mission to a close- TechCrunch

Redwire Pioneering Biopharma Production in Space by Successfully Bioprinting Live Human Heart Tissue and Delivering Second Batch of PIL-BOX Pharmaceutical Crystal Experiments

Chang'e-6 probe enters moon orbit - CGTN

Space Tech Startup Xona Raises $19M Series A for its Cutting-Edge Satellite Navigation Service

BlackSky Reports First Quarter 2024 Results- Business Wire

Virgin Galactic Announces First Quarter 2024 Financial Results and Provides Business Update

ESA - Mission control ready for EarthCARE despite disruption

Space sustainability conference kicks off with £1.8 million for tech innovation - GOV.UK

State and Federal Space Stakeholders Release Florida Spaceport System Maritime Intermodal Transportation Study Feasibility Phase Report

Sweden's Esrange Gets its First Orbital Launch Customer - European Spaceflight

POLARIS Spaceplanes Moves Ahead with New MIRA Prototypes - European Spaceflight

Lonestar Data Holdings Unveils Revolutionary "Freedom Payload" Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group for Second Lunar Data Center Mission

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To the surprise of, hmm, just about nobody, the faulty valve on the Atlas V Centaur second stage, which caused the Starliner launch to be scrubbed on Monday, well, it needs a full rip and replace.

There was a sliver of hope that maybe it was just a tune-up needed, and we'd see another launch attempt yesterday or even later this week.

But as we mentioned in yesterday's show, that wasn't very likely.

Today is May 8th, 2024.

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

Boeing's Starliner flight delayed until May 17th at the earliest.

Deorbit's Ion has a rendezvous with the Otterpup.

Redwire bioprinted human heart tissue on the ISS.

And our guest today is Sarah Kelly, Program Director at the Endeavour Scholarship Organization.

So stick around for our chat on how they're continuing astronaut Al Warden's legacy by inspiring future explorers across the globe.

Let's dive into today's briefing, shall we?

NASA and ULA have confirmed that the next earliest launch attempt of Boeing's Starliner will be next week, May 17th, and emphasis hours here at the earliest.

The entire rocket has to be taken back to the vehicle integration facility for the work, though it's likely that the Starliner itself won't need to be destacked for that work.

Isn't it always the way you replace one thing and then you find a new problem?

Well, let's hope that's not the case here.

So when it comes to human spaceflight, we applaud caution, of course.

Should the valve replacement go as smoothly as we all hope, and if we do see a Friday, May 17th launch attempt, set your calendars for a 6.16 pm Eastern time or 22.16 GMT that day for the launch itself.

Fingers crossed.

And now on to a story that we've been following with great interest for the past year, Starfish Space's Otterpup.

And if you missed the narrative, then we suggest going to our website, space.entuk.com, and searching for Starfish Space on the podcast page, and you'll get up to speed.

But as a brief summary, Starfish Space launched the Otterpup to demonstrate on-orbit rendezvous and docking technology, but the mission failed due to technical issues.

Now, Starfish has finalized the mission with help from DeOrbit.

Starfish approached the Italian Space Logistics Company to assist with a rendezvous with the Otterpup.

And on April 19th, DeOrbit's Ion satellite moved within a kilometer of the Otterpup.

Otterpup then successfully pointed towards their spacecraft and snapped an image with onboard cameras.

And although Otterpup was unable to attempt docking, the rendezvous provided the team with valuable data to inform future missions.

The second Otterpup is due to launch early next year.

Talk about developments in space that improve life here on Earth.

How about this one?

Redwire Space has successfully 3D bioprinted the first live human heart tissue sample through its 3D biofabrication facility onboard the International Space Station.

Geeking out about this one, the tissue sample returned to Earth along with the second batch of pharmaceutical crystal experiments from Redwire's Pillbox platform.

The bioprinted live human heart tissue could eventually be used to create heart patches as a treatment for damaged heart tissue.

And this all opens the door for more effective, personalized medicine.

The tissue sample is now undergoing further testing at Redwire's facility in Greenville, Atlanta.

And Redwire plans to 3D bioprint human blood vessels in space on future tech missions.

This is amazing, just amazing technology.

Congratulations to China as their Chang'e 6 spacecraft implemented its first braking at Perryloon to enter the Moon's orbit.

The braking procedure is one of the most important orbital control moves in Chang'e 6's entire flight.

The vehicle, which as you might remember launched on May 3rd, is aiming to land on the lunar surface to retrieve samples from the far side of the Moon.

Satellite startup ZonaSpace has announced an over-subscribed $19 million series A funding round led by Future Ventures and Serafim Space.

Zona is developing a network of small satellites to provide high-precision navigation services.

And the company says that this funding will be used to accelerate the deployment of Zona's low-Earth orbit satellite network as they drive towards commercialization.

On to some financial reports now starting with BlackSky.

The Space Intelligence company reported revenue of $24.2 million, which is up 32% from the prior year quarter.

Brian Eotool, who is BlackSky's CEO, said that in the press release that the company continues, quote, "to demonstrate strong operating leverage progressing towards sustainable, long-term, profitable growth."

And Space Tourism company Virgin Galactic also announced its financial results for the first quarter and provided a business update.

The company reported revenue of $2 million, driven by commercial spaceflight and membership fees related to future astronauts.

They also reported a net loss of $102 million for the same period.

Virgin Galactic is planning their final tourism launch of this year on June 8.

ESA's European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany is preparing for the critical launch and early orbit phase of the agency's EarthCare satellite.

Teams are rehearsing the time-critical operations that take place on and around launch day.

The EarthCloud aerosol and radiation explorer satellite, also known as EarthCare, is designed to make a range of different measurements that will shed new light on the role that clouds and aerosols play in regulating Earth's climate.

The team is expected to run a dress rehearsal on May 17 ahead of the satellite's planned launch later this month.

And the UK Space Agency has released £1.8 million in new funding to support technologies to help satellites measure changing shorelines, estimate levels of biomass, predict weather forecasting and manufacture medicines in space.

The funding was announced to coincide with the first day of the Space Sustainability Conference at the Harwell Science Campus.

And that concludes our daily briefing.

We've included three stories that are extra for you in the selected reading section of our show notes for you to enjoy.

One is on the Space Florida Feasibility Phase Report, another is on Sweden's S range, getting their first orbital launch customer, and the third is an update from our friends at Polaris Space Plains.

A T-minus crew, if you find this podcast useful, as always, please do us a favor and share a five-star rating and short review on your favorite podcast app.

That will help other space professionals like you to find the show and join the T-minus crew.

Thank you so much for your support, everybody.

We always really appreciate it.

Our guest today is Sarah Kelly, Program Director at the Endeavour Scholarship Organization.

Sarah started by telling me how the scholarship fund started.

The astronaut, Al Warden Endeavour Scholarship, was started in 2019 in culmination with the 50th anniversary of Apollo.

And at that date and time at the Paris Air Show, Al Warden, Apollo 15 astronaut, Charlie Duke, Apollo 16 astronaut, and Walt Cunningham, the Apollo 7 astronaut came and joined us.

And we had the inaugural Endeavour Scholarship moment in time, a big party celebrated with industry and private business sector, to launch this program that focuses on the future of STEM.

And our role in that is to try to inspire high school aged kids to pursue STEM careers, to help fuel the workforce, to inspire them, to excite them.

But what makes us pretty unique and special is that we make sure that we target kids from all over the world.

So we know that the future of STEM, of space, of curing cancer, of any type of saving the planet, we can't do it in isolation.

We can't have this isolated view that, okay, in the silo of the US, we will fix the world's problems.

And it's not the space race anymore.

Our space race is a global race, I guess you could look it as.

And so we believe that the botanists will come from Australia and the comms, the woman might come from the UAE and our astronaut might stem from Poland.

So we believe that collaboration and global connectivity is at the root of our scholarship.

We target that age so that they don't lose interest in STEM, making sure that women stay interested in STEM and don't lose their path towards the sciences.

And we feel that that age group is critical, but also a little bit neglected.

You find a lot of scholarships for college age, you find a lot of scholarships for post-grad and there's really good money out there for them.

And that money needs to be there.

But we find that this age group could use a little more love and that's how we ended up here.

There's so much I love about the Endeavor scholarship and I think the fact that it's not just space-focused, but STEM-focused is really significant.

And I think that speaks a lot also to the vision of the scholarship that even if you are a space-focused person as I often am, I mean it is an ecosystem of the sciences.

But it also just speaks to the importance of just developing the next generation of minds and wherever their interests take them.

I just think that's just really incredible.


Yeah, and we, Space Camp is a beautiful program, right?

So we take the kids for a week-long advanced academy program.

It's astronaut-like training.

They're bouncing around in suits.

They're scuba diving with gloves on and trying to manipulate tools under the water and going on missions to Mars and they'll pull a card and the astronaut has an asthma attack and the team has to respond.

And it really tries to be as true to the program as possible.

But that experience is amazing and wonderful.

It's just one part though.

We're looking to, we bring the kids ahead of camp.

They come to Washington, D.C. and we bond there as a team.

We'll go to the Air and Space Museum.

Different industry and government invite us to have a picnic lunch.

And this year we're joining the United Arab Emirates Embassy as invited the kids to come have a picnic lunch.

And just like those different, you know, and Boeing is a huge supporter and we're gonna meet up with Heidi Grant, the head of global growth and engagement.

It's gonna talk to the kids.

And we wanna inspire them just like you said in whatever field, you know, and really it's steam, right?

It's not just STEM.

The arts and architecture is there.

So you know, if we show up at the URVAR Hazy Museum and they have the full discovery model, right?

The full shuttle.

It's not a model.


That whole thing.

And when you're up on that, you're up, I don't know, is it four floors?

Probably to look down on it.

But when you turn the other way, there's a big glass wall and you're looking down at a live workshop.

And on that floor are engineers and artists and archeologists and, what's the word, anthropologists who are tending to these crafts.

And that's a job.

And that's a real job in STEM that's needed and education.

And, you know, so I think that our experience culminates in an awesome thing at Space Camp and I'm sure the kids, you know, will remember zip lining and the friends they made.

And, but our hope is that they take out of it what they need to to find a path that will better the world and whatever that looks like for them.

I love that.

I have a childhood friend who went to Space Camp and is now an amazing neurosurgeon.

Like she does not have a space related career, but I know it was a very formative experience for her in terms of not just seeing the career paths, but also critical thinking and thinking, you know, all those things, very informational for her.

And I, so on that personal anecdote note, I could absolutely see so easily how an experience, I mean, it's also fun as heck.

I mean, let's be real, it's still fun.

That's why our spaces get real, right?

I mean, they run those kids from 7am to 11pm.

There's classes, there's activities.

There's team building, there's practical.

It's wonderful program.

And then it's like you said, I hope that they're sparked in curiosity, whatever that looks like and they learn to get out of their comfort zones and see the payout of that.

And a lot of kids, there's one, when you check out their website or if you look at our videos from camp, there's a giant telephone pole and they're climbing up these rungs and they stand up on, you know, six inch diameter pole and they look down 40 feet and they do it.

And you have these kids that like they're sitting in a line, they have their helmets on, you see their nerves, but they encourage each other, they cheer each other on.

Every student that went up had the same equal applause and it just is wonderful.

And that moment pushes them somehow in a positive way.

I think it's just, and I don't want to harp on it too much, but I do think it is really beautiful that this is an international effort also.

I think your point about, you know, the future of the world, like we can't think so siloed.

And I also want to say, not to brown nose, but kudos to the astronauts also for recognizing that, because I think nobody would have blamed them if they kept this American only.

I could completely understand that, but I think kudos to their vision for seeing that this, you know, the future truly is global.

How on earth do you pick the kids for something like this?

I imagine they're all exemplary.

Not trying to say like I'm helping kids get in or anything.

No, it's so true.

It's very challenging because you look at a pool and they all bring something unique and different.

So obviously with each country, we have specific criteria.

We have rubrics.

We have, you know, all that good standard, you know, teaching stuff.

And what we have to do though is I'm sitting here in New Jersey and I don't know how to find the best kids in Australia.

So we have to partner with different people in country.

So we partner with different government sectors, business sectors.

Australia was a great example of a fantastic contest.

The American Chamber of Commerce down there, their CEO, April Pomerle, took our call and she's like, this is exactly what we're looking to do.

We want to make bilateral relations.

We want to promote space.

We want to promote STEM.

Let's do this.

So they launched a nationwide contest there that had over a thousand applicants and then their judging team whittled it down.

The top six come then to the R team and we interviewed the six and four become the team and then to become alternates.

But every country is a little different.

Every contest is run a little bit different depending on the system and their school system.

School calendars play into it too.

We have to, you know, be all different.

We have to be mindful that the Singaporeans have a national exam in July and June and we got to be mindful of the, it's really delicate for each country, each ecosystem.

But we lucked out that we have some really fantastic partners.

I think that Coleman Worldwide's relationship has let that happen.

So people trust them.

And then they hear we're doing this great thing for their youth.

And I think that is always a little bit of a surprise because when we reach out, they're like, oh, you want us to bring American kids to space camp and help you.

Like, no, no, no, we want to bring French students to camp.

We want Emirati kids to come to US space camp and have that US camp experience and go back home and become ambassadors for the program.

So it's very cool and eye-opening.

And just like you said, right now our closest partners are Aerospace.

But the UAE is a good example and a good model where Coleman does more than Aerospace.

It's defense, it's health, it's oil and gas, it's food, food and beverage.

And STEM is all of those.

So we're starting, they're our first one where we're stepping into oil and gas.

So AdNock was a partner this year to help select some kids out of the UAE.

And again, it's the understanding of, yes, it culminates in space camp, but that's so much more than just astronaut training.

I would love to know what you're thinking like the long-term vision is for the scholarship.

Not that what you all have been doing is insufficient or anything when you're visioning.


So with camp closing due to COVID, like for example, the students of Chile took a trip to the, to Andefagasta and the observatory there.

And again, we try to fuel this love for STEM.

They are now ambassadors for the program.

Now we have kids that have gone through the camp.

They are ambassadors for the program.

And my ultimate hope is that those experiences, whether they were a trip to the desert, a trip to space camp, a trip to DC, is that they spread the love for STEM, that they encourage others to explore and be curious.

We would love to continue partnering with other nonprofits and supporting other nonprofits.

This year, one of our teams, the US team is coming with the help of Sisters of the Skies.

So they're a nonprofit that aims to help young black women pursue careers as pilots, which is a very underrepresented community in the pilot world.

So we felt that they were a strong representation of what we're trying to do to diversify, to encourage.

So I, my personal hope for endeavor of the future is that we have ambassadors all over the world who serve as a ripple effect for international collaboration, for support, for strong relationships around the world, and for just a promotion of camaraderie.

And that's my true hope.

And I would love to lift other nonprofits up along with us and become, you know, this little nonprofit powerhouse that means on each other, just like we're asking the kids to do when they go through this program.

We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

Lone Star Data Holdings' Independence Payload was a board intuitive machine's IM-1 lunar lander which touched down on the moon this past February.

And Lone Star has the goal of making data centers on the moon and got a step closer with the success of the Independence Tech demo, sending data to and from both CIS Lunar Space and the lunar surface.

And Lone Star will have another data center payload, this one named Freedom, aboard the next intuitive machine's lunar mission, the IM-2, which will likely take place later this year.

And this one's got a little twist.

And I should note here that I've spoken to Lone Star CEO Chris Stott in the past, actually specifically episode 235 on March 15th and 16th, 2024 to be precise.

And Chris is putting his wife's face on the moon, which makes sense when your wife is both an advisory board member for your company and, oh yeah, the one and only space shuttle astronaut and ISS crew member, Nicole Stott.

And not to bury the lead here, Apollo 16 moonwalker Charlie Duke, also an advisory board member of Lone Star, his face is also going on the moon.

Or for the second time, that is, when you count the family photo that he left behind in 1972.

Now if you are imagining the Freedom payload data center as a gray hard drive enclosure or a very uninspiring rack mount server case, plonked onto the lunar surface, please think again.

As you know, this data center is a 3D printed work of art designed by architectural firm Bjark Ingelsgrub.

That casts shadows of both Charlie Dukes and Nicole Stott's faces in profile in silhouette, depending on how the sun hits it during the lunar day.

So Charlie Dukes profile in silhouette for the first half of the lunar day, and then Nicole Stott for the second half.

Pretty cool.

It's data, but make it art.

That's it for T-minus from May 8th, 2024, brought to you by N2K Cyberwire.

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.

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

This episode was produced by Ellis Caruth.

Our associate producer is Liz Stokes.

We're mixed by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester, with original music by Elliot Peltzman.

Our executive producer is Jennifer Iban.

Our executive editor is Brandon Karp.

Simone Petrella is our president.

Peter Kilpey is our publisher.

And I'm Maria Varmausus.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you tomorrow.



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