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FAA reauthorization on track.

US Senate approves the FAA reauthorization bill. Viasat partners with Loft Orbital. NASA awards $45M to high education institutions for research. And more.




The US Senate approves the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization act, which reauthorizes both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for five years. Viasat has selected Loft Orbital as a partner for its Real-Time Space Relay service. NASA is awarding approximately $45 million to 21 higher-education institutions to help build capacity for research, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Bryce Kennedy, President of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals (ACSP). 

You can connect with Bryce on LinkedIn and learn more about ACSP on their website.

Selected Reading

Senate Overwhelmingly Approves FAA Reauthorization Act

Viasat Selects Loft Orbital for NASA Communications Services Project Real-Time Space Relay Service Demonstration

NASA and JAXA to operate XRISM as-is despite instrument issue - SpaceNews

NASA Awards Expand Research Capabilities at Institutions Nationwide

Infinite Orbits Raises €12M to Build the First Solution For Satellite Life Extension

Redwire Announces Development of New European-Built Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) Spacecraft Platform called Phantom- Business Wire

SWISSto12 supplies Northrop Grumman with critical Radio Frequency products for a GEOStar-3 Commercial Satellite Program- Business Wire

China and EU-candidate Serbia sign an agreement to build a 'shared future'- AP News 

Geomagnetic Storm Affecting GPS Signals - May 2024 - Landmark Implement


Eutelsat Considers Selling its Ground Network - Via Satellite

Insight: Musk's SpaceX is quick to build in Texas, slow to pay its bills- Reuters

SpinLaunch Board Announces Leadership Transition- Business Wire

From outer space? Sask. farmers baffled after discovering strange wreckage in field

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The Federal Aviation Administration had warned the U.S. government that it would have had to furlough around 3,600 workers if the law reauthorizing the FAA expired at midnight last Friday.

But, hooray, the U.S.

Senate came to the rescue at the very, very last minute, approving a bill to extend the reauthorization by a whole seven days.

Today is May 13, 2024.

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

The U.S.

Senate approves the FAA Reauthorization Bill by a set partners with Loft Orbital.

NASA awards $45 million to higher education institutions for research.

And our guest today is Bryce Kennedy, president of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals.

And we're going to be talking about some new changes at ACSP, so stick around for that chat.

It's Monday, y'all.

Let's get into it.

In a bipartisan vote on May 9, the U.S.

Senate approved the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, for five years.

After passing the legislation on a strong 88-4 vote, the Senate passed a one-week extension to ensure that the law doesn't expire before the House considers the bill next week.

Should it pass the House and then be signed into law by the president, the FAA will get $105 billion in appropriations for fiscal years 2024 through 2028.

And yeah, while most of that money is for largely aviation-related items, there is a $1.59 billion appropriation for FAA research, engineering, and development to help keep America competitive in the global race for innovative and sustainable aerospace technology.

And that includes new propulsion tech like hypersonics.

Just an FYI for ya.

ViASAT has selected Loft Orbital as a partner for its real-time space relay service.

The demonstration is part of ViASAT's work in support of a $53 million award under NASA's Communications Services Project, which evaluates commercial satellite communications services and technologies to support NASA near-Earth communications requirements, as it sunsets the tracking and data relay satellite system, also known as TDRS.

ViASAT's KAA-band space terminal will be integrated on a Loft spacecraft along with multiple commercial payloads.

The demonstration mission is anticipated to launch in fall 2025.

NASA is awarding approximately $45 million to 21 higher education institutions to help build capacity for research.

The awards were made possible through the Minority University Research and Education Project Institutional Research Opportunity, or MIRROR, and established program to stimulate competitive research grants, which are all funded by the agency's Office of STEM engagement.

Some news from Europe now, and French-based In-Orbit Services Company Infinite Orbits concluded its first fundraising round, raising 12 million euros.

The round was led by New Fund Capital, along with the EIC Fund, IRDI Capital Investment, and CNES VentureArms Space Founders France.

The new funding will enable Infinite Orbits to accelerate the development of its main project, Endurance, which is a life extension satellite for space assets.

Endurance will be operated by Infinite Orbits Rendezvous and Proximity Operations Technology, or RPO, an autonomous vision-based navigation technology that allows assets in space to approach and dock to one another.

The RPO technology is designed to be replicated for advanced in-orbit services, including close inspection, refueling, in-space manufacturing, and more applications.

Endurance is planned to demonstrate the first European life extension mission in 2026.

Redwire Space has introduced a new European, very low-Earth orbit spacecraft platform called Phantom.

The V-LEO spacecraft is being developed at Redwire's facility in Belgium, and is designed to carry out a wide array of intelligence, earth science, and communications missions.

Swiss212-RF Solutions, the US entity of the Swiss-based company, has developed qualified and delivered three fully integrated RF antenna feed chains in various bands for the payload of Northrop Grimman's commercial Geostar 3 satellite.

Swiss212 completed the qualification program in January 2024, delivering the three integrated feed chains to Northrop Grimman for payload integration.

And staying in Europe, Serbia has become the latest country to sign on to China's International Lunar Research Station.

As President Xi Jinping visited Serbia last week, agreeing to jointly develop new quality productive forces and build high-tech industrial cooperation projects, while also pledging to quote "deep in cooperation in space science and technology," according to Chinese state news.

And on Friday's show, we talked about the spectacular light show that was about to hit Earth over the weekend.

Did you happen to see the Aurora Borealis or Australis where you are?

I never thought I'd get to see an Aurora Borealis from my front stoop, but I did on Friday night!

That was really something.

And if you saw two "please send us pics," seriously, I cannot get enough of them.

The reason so many of us got magnificent views of the Northern and Southern Lights and areas that don't normally see them is that we were hit by a really powerful geomagnetic storm.

And we also gave you all a heads up on Friday that the solar storm could potentially cause some issues on the ground, and it seems that even though the storm, when it landed on our cosmic shores, was a 5 out of 5 G5 strength storm, and not the slightly weaker G4 that was predicted, most technologies seemed to have dodged a bullet when it came to potential disruptions.

But, one area that was affected over the weekend was farming.

The geomagnetic storm battered GPS satellites used by self-driving tractors, causing many tractors to either go a bit wonky or to get taken offline entirely.

And crucially, the issue struck just days ahead of a crucial date for planting corn, which is one of the United States' biggest crops.

The storm is waning and basically done at this point, so the delays were short, thankfully.

We need that corn to be knee-high by the 4th of July, y'all!

Did you hear about any other potential issues from the geomagnetic storm this weekend?

I'd be fascinated to hear about them.

Reach out to us at our email, space@n2k.com.

And that solar storm is also having an effect on the Hubble Space Telescope's lifetime altitude, according to astrophysicists who track how Hubble's doing.

We've included a link to a social media thread with details on what experts are seeing in our show notes.

It's a fascinating read, definitely go check it out.

And that concludes our briefing for today, but we're not.

There are a plethora of stories to pick from to continue your news to knowledge for today.

Check out the selected reading section of our show notes and you'll find that UTELSAT is considering selling its ground network, some insights into SpaceX's business model, and an announcement of a new CEO at SpinLaunch.

Hey, T-Minus Crew, every Monday we produce a written intelligence roundup, and it's called Signals and Space.

So if you happen to miss any T-minus episodes, this strategic intelligence product will get you up to speed in the fastest way possible.

It's all signal, no noise.

And you can sign up for Signals and Space in our show notes or at space.ntuk.com.

Our guest today is Bryce Kennedy, president of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals.

And we should note that Bryce is moving on from ACSP, and he came on the show to let us know what's next for him.

I'll be pivoting from ACSP Association of Commercial Space Professionals from president, handing it over to the capable hands of Bailey Reichelt, which we're very excited about.

And it's one of those things where I always tell people, if you look at a business model, if you do your job right, you should be able to push yourself out where it's not needed.

And I feel ACSP is this place where our events have become so popular that actually more needed than my job necessarily is an event coordinator to really elevate it.

And our boot camps and then our nuclear event coming up in September, it's a really cool direction.

So anyway, I'm pivoting, and I'm starting two new roles, which I'm really, really excited about.

I'm going to start with the International Telecommunications Union.

Thank you.

And I'm the senior officer for space connectivity.

And my passion, why I got involved with ACSP and space at large has always been, A, how do we protect space?

Who's protecting space?

And then B, how do we make that accessible to everyone on earth?

And with the ITU, I mean, we were just talking about this earlier, but space is one of these things where nothing's guaranteed.

It is so hard on all fronts in space and on earth, whether your career is a satellite operator or you're down here doing podcasts and artists or whatever.

Just a real podcaster.


Just a whole, no, just, I don't really like that.

But how broad this network is of what jobs entail in the space industry.

You can really make a mark for yourself.

But anyway, one of the things that I'm excited about doing with the ITU is we're going to be looking at how to bridge the digital divide for developing nations.

It's still, it's still disgusting how few people have access to that.

And the ITU is really positioned to be a part of that, to make sure there's more security in the world.


I was going to say, I can't imagine a bigger organization than the ITU to be addressing.

So, I mean, they're huge in terms of their impact, especially.


I mean, I just, I mean, it's a massive get for them to have you.

So congratulations.

That's fantastic.

Even though I begged them.

I told the guy, his name is Wally.

I told him months ago, actually a year ago, I'll sweep floors.

I said that legitimately.

I said that too to the head of one of the, it wasn't a vacuum.

I forget.

It was one of the companies that was building out space space.

But I said, I will sweep floors to be on your team because I really believe to be part of anything that brings in infrastructure or access again to these people or just around the world is massive.

And then, you know, the more I'm reading and understanding the job and the position itself is just like, the infrastructure doesn't even exist.

Or if it does exist, it's very tenuous, or has a very tenuous like base in terms of volcanic eruptions, potentiality of knocking out the fiber cable or, you know, coups from military or this.

And the rate of destabilization is broader than anything my kind of US centric world had allowed to understand.

So it's even bigger a deal than I had thought.

So it's so interesting when we talk about that digital divide that I know I talked to a lot of people in private industry who are like, well, we're going to sell you a thing that will help you fix that issue.

But so how, what's the IT use approach to this?

They're doing something really cool where one of the sections is they go in with AI and people in the ground.

And basically they build out a model of what already exists, what's potentially there based off of what already exists as opposed to coming and being like, hey, we can sell you X, Y, Z, but these companies maybe haven't done their homework and understand it, excuse me, understood what exactly A, the appetite is there for, B, what the economic development appetite is there for, and also again, what infrastructure exists.

Like how many houses have- And why is that?

Yeah, and why is that?

Yeah, exactly.

And why is that?

And so the ITU is doing that.

And so they're building now these really detailed reports and these, they're segmenting huge swaths of information so these countries can have access to it.

So they can understand themselves what their infrastructure looks like from political to physical to everything.

And so that, it's really, really, really cool.

And then what I'm brought on for is to help with that, but two keys that I'm going to be working with is one, we're going to start forming best practices committees because they're still in this incubator stage where they're asking questions like, "Hey, what does a space agency look like?"

Or "What is the satellite age?"

What are the best practices for regulatory this stuff, I think?

And again, not just being US-centric, opening Brazil, China, all these different countries that have done it.

And what I'm hoping for is that the countries can then pick and choose what they want and what they use because what we're also seeing too, companies coming in and telling them what the best practices are based on their own business plan.

What aligns with their business.

Yeah, yeah, of course.

And we shouldn't be surprising.

But so anyway, that's one of the things I'm very excited about to begin work on.


And it's only one of the things that you're going to be seeing, but another thing that you're also working on.

The other thing is here in my home state of New Mexico, I will officially join as executive director of the Space Valley Coalition.

And we're pulling together organizations that are very space focused, all the way to organizations that aren't space focused.

And we're using this as an impetus to say, "Hey, you belong."

Our motto is space for Earth, space for all.

And so we have the traditional one.

I was going to say, in Space Valley, I know it's New Mexico, but for folks who don't know the state, can you define the actual physical Space Valley?


So in Space Valley, originally, we went after an NSF grant that Texas got.

And it was supposed to include Colorado all the way down to Texas.

So Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas was the original Space Valley idea.

But from the microcosm, it goes all the way to Taos to even northern parts, all the way down to the southernmost tips, including truth of consequences, this spaceport America.

And the funny thing is we have all these resources in space in New Mexico from the scientific side, Los Alamos, Sandia, White Sands, Curtland Air Force Base, AFRL, and then to spaceport America, to all these things.

And then also the spiritual side, which is what we're trying to bridge as well from the Pueblos and their relationship to the sky and to the stars and then navigation and then their gods, all these different things.

So beautiful.

And it's just built into the culture here.

So Space Valley, we realized, you can't have one without the other.

They don't exist.

I mean, we've been able to do it since the '60s, but now it's time to bridge.

We have to integrate.

Integration exists for this purpose.

And that way people can start seeing that it just doesn't have to be STEM.

You just don't have to be an engineer.

You don't have to be an astronaut.

You can be an artist.

You can be a sci-fi writer, a podcaster.

And so anyway, that's what the coalition is really focused on, doing that and amplifying what we have here.

So when you come here, if you decide to move here, you'll have an entire ecosystem at your hands where you know exactly how you fit, where you belong, and that it's not just one thing.

It's the richness, the tapestry of the whole domain.


I think that's a fascinating approach.

I mean, when I think of many of the other space beach or space coast, I mean, they all have their fortes, right?

And we don't have anything that kind of talks about the cultural aspect nearly as much unless we talk about, like I'm thinking like in Florida, the culture that has come up there sort of organically around that industry, right?

And as opposed to the ancient cultures that have existed for thousands and thousands of years and what that brings and what that inspires.

And certainly also in New Mexico, the incredible dark skies out there.

Oh, my God.

That's it.

The sights that I can't see from my Massachusetts backyard, but you easily can see it all over New Mexico.

I mean, you can't discount how important that is and just inspiring so many people.

The tourism, so many astronomers go to New Mexico to sky, it's Stargaze.

I mean, it's all of that matters.

All of it matters and it's worthwhile not neglecting that in the broader conversation.

I think that's really, really important.

We need integration.

So yeah, that's the role I'll be leading here and I'm super excited to do that.

And if I do my job right on that one, it will take off without me having to do a damn thing.

I put myself out of work.

I hope so.

I hope it becomes a movement.

And that sounds amazing though.

That sounds so amazing and I know you're joining me right now from Q-Stations.

So that's live on the ground, a Q-Station.

Yeah, live on the ground.


I mean, Q-Stations is such a great example.

I mean, when my wife and I moved from New York City here to New Mexico, we really didn't know what we were going to do.

I still had my attorney hat on, but immediately we were plugged into the ecosystem, got a job with the Egypt Space Law that was here, started meeting heads of Air Force Research Labs, we put on our first boot camp.

The community, I think as we go more virtual, the community grassroots aspect becomes even more important.

And I see firsthand, I've been able to achieve more in three years of my life than I have in a very, very long time because of the community and the support.

We'll be right back.

Welcome back.

Here's the headline, "Farmer finds extraterrestrial wreckage in his fields."

The common setup for comic books superheroes, and it's also a real thing that happened quite recently to the Satchok family of farmers in Ituna, Saskatchewan.

On April 28th, the Satchoks found bits of something in their 10,000 acres of farmland.

The largest of the objects weighing in at around 100 pounds was clearly something mechanical, and it's very damaged and charred, clearly has seen better days.

And when held upright, it's about the height of one of the farmers themselves.

But as for what it was or where it came from, that was a bit of a mystery at first.

Here's farmer Barry Satchok in an interview with CTV.

From far distance, we thought it was garbage, and then after that, we got closer and we don't know what it is.

It could be part of a satellite or something that re-entered because it's all torched.

You can see where it's torched, stuff has been burnt off.

It's carbon fiber composite, and then there's aluminum honeycomb on it, and in the back is composite carbon again.

It's an astute observation and a good hypothesis right there.

Canada's Transportation Safety Board said no incidents had been reported over that air space from airplanes, so that eliminated the possibility of something dropping from a plane.

So let's go a bit higher and assume, as Mr.

Satchok himself surmised, that this is likely space debris.

And honestly, leave it to the astronomers out there, including none other than Jonathan McDowell, who took a look at re-entries in the area over the previous months.

And while doing so, astronomers saw that a SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, which transported the Axiom 3 mission to the ISS this past January, well, its trunk section, which is the unpressurized cargo storage section that sits right beneath the Dragon Crew capsule, it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere pretty much right over iTunes to scatch one back on February 26th.

So there you have it, yet again, astronomers to the rescue, not all heroes wear capes.

The trunk sections of Dragon Crew and cargo missions have uncontrolled re-entries, and thankfully this bit of trunk landed in a field.

But you might remember the story about that bit of an ISS battery pallet, which was also an uncontrolled re-entry that crashed through Florida House.

Well given that quite a decent chunk of the trunk survived re-entry, this is worth keeping in mind as we talk about space debris and how we dispose of things.

Yes, we don't want to cause issues for items on orbit.

And even though the risks to us on Terraferma are mathematically quite small, it ain't zero.

That's it for T-minus for May 13th, 2024, brought to you by N2K Cyberwire.

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This episode was produced by Alice Carruth, 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 Iben.

Our executive editor is Brandon Karp.

Simone Petrella is our president.

Peter Kilpey is our publisher.

And I'm your host, Maria Varmasas.

Thanks for listening.

See you tomorrow.

[Music] Team 1.


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