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More setbacks for Starliner.

Helium leaks cause delays to Boeing’s Starliner launch. Blue Origin to launch this Sunday. Axiom is sending a Turkish Astronaut to space with VG. And more.




NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight pushed to Tuesday May 21st. Blue Origin has announced that its seventh human flight, NS-25, will lift off from Launch Site One in West Texas this Sunday, May 19. Axiom has announced that they are partnering with Virgin Galactic to send Turkish Space Agency astronaut Tuva Atasever on a suborbital flight on June 8 to conduct microgravity research, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Immigration Lawyer Sophie Alcorn.

You can connect with Sophie on LinkedIn and learn more about her practice and podcast on her website.

Selected Reading

NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test Eyes Next Launch Opportunity

New Shepard’s Crewed NS-25 Mission Targets Liftoff on May 19- Blue Origin

Axiom Space Partners with Virgin Galactic to Send Second Turkish Astronaut to Space

SpaceX launches 50th Falcon 9 rocket of 2024 on Starlink mission – Spaceflight Now

ESA - The spacecraft control centre of the future

AAC Clyde Space wins SEK 27.0 M order for 16U satellite

ISS National Lab Announces Up to $750,000 in Funding for Technology Development in Low Earth Orbit

Space Force should consider alternative launch sites, lawmakers say

173: In Orbit with Alice Carruth: Insights on Space Exploration, Communication, and Innovation | Alcorn Immigration Law

Astreas Delivers Chocolate Spheres to International Space Station- Newswire

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You know, I really feel for Boeing. This Starliner launch has been a long time coming, and now they're being hit with another set of delays. This time, it's a helium leak. And you know when this stuff starts leaking, it can cause all sorts of trouble. Today is May 15th, 2024. I'm Maria Varmausis, and this is T-minus. Helium leaks cause further delays to Boeing's Starliner launch. Blue Origin to launch New Shepard this Sunday. Axiom is sending a Turkish astronaut to space with Virgin Galactic. And our guest today is immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn. Sophie specializes in bringing aliens to the US space industry. Not the out-of-space kind of aliens, the little green mankind, sorry. No, the other kind. Stay with us to find out more. Tuesday, May 21st is the next launch date for the crewed flight test of Starliner. ULA says the pesky valve situation has been fixed, with the old valve being replaced and the new valve swapped in and working as it should. And in the intervening days to May 21st, the NASA and Boeing teams have some work to do. Unfortunately, there is a small helium link in Starliner's service module, specifically from a flange on a single-reaction control system thruster. Meanwhile, astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sonny Williams, who have been at home with their families in Houston all while these issues with the launch vehicle and spacecraft are being worked on, well, they should be heading back to Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the next few days. Blue Origin has announced that its seventh human flight, NS-25, will lift off from launch site 1 in West Texas this Sunday, May 19th. The New Shepherd rocket will be carrying six astronauts to the Karman Line, including Ed Dwight, America's first black astronaut candidate. Space for Humanity, a non-profit aiming to democratize access to space for all of humanity, has sponsored Ed Dwight's upcoming mission on board Blue Origin's New Shepherd rocket. Godspeed, New Shepherd! And just as Blue Origin plans to return to their space tourism business after an 18-month hiatus, Virgin Galactic is also gearing up for their last suborbital flight of the year in June. Axiom has announced that their partnering with Virgin Galactic to send Turkish space agency astronaut Tuva Atasever on the suborbital flight on June 8th to conduct microgravity research. Atasever is set to become the second Turkish astronaut in nation's history when he participates in the flight. In partnership with Tubitak Uzey, the suborbital flight will serve as an opportunity to collect more biomedical data for three research studies that were previously conducted on AX3, including studies that could potentially impact future human spaceflight missions. In addition, Axiom Space is sending its own research payload on Galactic 07 to study insulin dose dispensation in microgravity. And you know, we're not even halfway through the year yet, but already SpaceX has reached its midway goal for over 100 launches in 2024. SpaceX marked its 50th launch with a Falcon 9 lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Tuesday. The rocket carried 13 direct-to-cell capable Starlink satellites, among the 20 on board. The European Space Agency has unveiled its plans for a new satellite control center at its existing European Space Operations Center in Germany. ESA signed a contract with German architecture firm H2S Architectin for the construction of the futuristic facility. Seriously, go and check out the rendering of this thing. It looks incredible. The center is expected to cost 25.6 million euros with construction planned to start next year. AAC Clyde Space will be building a 16U EPIC satellite to be delivered and commissioned by June 2026. The satellite will be part of ESA's Opsat-Bolt mission and will be capable of hosting multiple payloads. The mission, led by Kraft Prospect Limited, is part of ESA's ARTES Skylight program. It aims to test and evaluate real-time techniques and technologies with a focus on optical and quantum direct-to-earth communication. The total order value is approximately 2.3 million euros. The ISS National Laboratory has put out a call for flight concepts for technology development that would use the space-based environment of the orbiting laboratory. The solicitation called "Technology Development and Applied Research Leveraging the ISS National Lab" is open to a broad range of technology areas, including chemical and material synthesis in space, translational medicine, in-space edge computing, and in-space servicing assembly and manufacturing, aka ISAM. It also encompasses the application of space station remote sensing data to improve geospatial analytics for commercial use. If you want to find out more, just follow the link in our show notes. That concludes our briefing for today. Head to the selected reading section of our show notes for links to further reading on all of the stories that we've mentioned. You'll also find a piece on why lawmakers in the United States are encouraging the Space Force to consider alternative launch sites. Hey, T-Minus Crew, if you find this podcast useful, please do us a favor and share a five-star rating and short review in your favorite podcast app. That will help other space professionals just like you to find the show and join the T-Minus Crew. Thank you for your support, everybody. We really appreciate it. [Music] Our guest today is Sophie Alcorn. Sophie is an immigration lawyer who specializes in bringing aliens to the United States space industry, and she's also a fellow podcaster. Our producer Alice was recently a guest on the Sophie Alcorn podcast talking about her work in space as a newly minted American. There's a link to that chat in our show notes. And I'll let Sophie explain more about her work in her own words. [Music] So I've been very active in the intersection of technology and immigration law, helping the world's most brilliant people get visas and green cards so they can live and work legally in the United States. I've devoted my practice to helping brilliant scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, people building emerging and critical technologies to be able to just have the peace of mind and security and freedom with the right visa or green card to actually be able to focus on building these incredible technologies that are helping humanity advance. And so in addition to my firm, which now has about 17 people, I'm actively working on changing laws. I helped draft the like act, which was a start-up visa proposal that passed the House. I'm involved in other advocacy work with DHS regulations and interpretations to make immigration better for high skilled brilliant people who are trying to come here. And my goal would be to fix immigration law one day. And as with many things that I hear about space and space law, whatever we solve for space we can solve for the planet. So I'm like, okay, well, we need an amazing regime where people freely have the option to go to space one day. And so we can use that as an example for how the world's most brilliant people and creators should be able to go wherever they want on the planet as well to be able to create these technologies that are going to help save lives and keep the planet healthy and all these amazing things that people are working on. Amazing. You, I'm sure have, I can't even imagine how many anecdotes you've got of brilliant people all over the world who get a job opportunity in the United States or are looking for one and they are working in the space realm or trying to get a job in the space realm and hit all sorts of barriers. Where do we even start with this one? Because part of me wants to go, how bad is it? And I feel like that's the dumbest question I could possibly ask. It's a big problem. And if you zoom out from the perspective of like what would be best for humanity, just to start with that, there are so many brilliant people who have incredible, rich, deep expertise in very niche subfields of science and engineering who have fabulous ideas for incredible solutions they could build to solve really important challenges. And they aren't even willing to think about trying it because A, they think it's impossible or B, they don't want to jeopardize their family's security or status in this country if they're here on some other job. So we're really not even seeing the full potential of what could be contributed to humanity if people were unlocked to follow their dreams. But immigration happens in a variety of ways. There's probably folks around the world listening to this podcast. So they might be interested in coming to the United States to build a technology here because of the safety, freedom, security, open markets, capitalism, low corruption, all the benefits of having a company here. You can de-risk everything and actually there's capital to scale. Plus in space, you can have amazing contracts with US government agencies to build and grow and then ultimately actually get your stuff to outer space or your people. That's often is the hook right there, exactly. And then there's this whole other group of folks who maybe are already in the US as F1 international students or J1 researchers or postdoc scholars. Maybe people are on H1Bs working at big technology companies. And so they're then trying to figure out how to stay here and get the work permission to actually build their new startups or their new technologies or just how do I get this, I'm a college student. How do I get this summer internship at this satellite company on an F1 student visa? I literally had somebody in my office a few weeks ago who wants to be an astronaut and is at a top university and incredible person with all these global awards already. And the question becomes, will they get me an export control license for my summer internship? And the answer is, that's like a whole other layer of things that I'm trying to impact now. Like I have all this immigration law expertise. And now through learning about space law and ITAR and EAR, it's so important from a national security perspective to protect these technologies. But at a policy level, and if anybody listening to this podcast wants to help me solve this, the challenge I see is that all these brilliant folks are here doing fundamental research in universities. There's incredible startups that they could spin out and we have VCs and accelerators ready to fund them and cyber grants and all of that. But people are afraid to build these technologies because like, I think people are afraid that like, if I build this thing that might be controlled, could I get deported for building it? Even though I'm in the US and I want to contribute it to, in like DOD would fund me or whatever. There's like a whole chicken and egg. And so I think the US could do a better job of like attracting and retaining the world's most brilliant people to build these technologies here and helping do the education so that people know how to go about this. But what I've been doing today is helping a lot of people get O1 extraordinary ability visas or transferring their H1Bs to work at their early stage companies. And those people in those visas can end up getting licenses for specific technologies in those visas or the ultimate goal for a lot of people is to get a green card, which can be self petitioned. You don't have to be in the US to start the green card process. You could just start it from, I don't know, South Africa, if that's where you live and then just like move here in three years once you qualify. And there's two specific routes, the EB1A for extraordinary ability, which is the fastest and the EB2 national interest waiver, which is way too slow if you're born in India or China, but for everybody else in the world, it's just like maybe a year or two extra. So there's multiple routes and you don't need to marry an American or win a green card lottery or invest a million dollars or even have a job offer in the US. You can self petition yourself for one of those pathways. So those are very popular for people in aerospace who are students to just start their green card process like in university so that hopefully by the end of their student work permits, they can just have a green card and then they can do whatever job they want. Oh, well, that's interesting. Those are interesting pathways. I didn't know about those. Admittedly, I come from the tech world where I feel like every other person has an H1B. So I've got all the, as you're in Silicon Valley, you know, it's, many of my friends are here on H1Bs and there are so many anecdotal stories I can think of where people can't leave the job that they're in because they don't want to lose their employer sponsorship and they're kind of trapped. It's great. Or just getting an H1B through the lottery in the first place or now since interest rates change and there were a bunch of tech layoffs, the companies aren't necessarily sponsoring green cards and then you're afraid to leave and transfer because you're going to hire you. So we've been helping a lot of people get green cards by themselves over the last several months. I believe it. It's amazing the knock-on effect that has of, you know, I'm, again, I'm coming as a friend of many people in this situation where it's things like they can't go back to visit parents because they're kind of stuck here. It's tough and it's like, what are we doing to people? It's just been humane. It's just, anyway. It's very complicated and there's a lot of systemic backlogs and processing issues that this administration has really put a lot of effort into fixing since the prior administration and COVID with not enough visa officers and the consulates and embassies around the world. But processing times are improving. But I think if somebody is on a visa and definitely needs to travel internationally, it might be prudent to try to renew their visa, stamping appointment at a consulate abroad before November, just to see, to have optionality in case if the parties change in the White House, then one of the major effects for this high-skilled audience is that processing times could slow down substantially. Space to me is one of those things. The aerospace world, there is kind of like this rah-rah Americana around it, but, and there also is a lot of discussion about like, we want to make sure that this industry develops globally, but it becomes very difficult when, again, a lot of the funding is coming from the federal government and, you know, a lot of people, they want to come here, as you mentioned, because of that connection to funding. Is that a unique thing to space, though? I mean, is it to space stand out in that way, or are there a lot of other industries, or it's like the exact same situation? I think that's a particular thing that I've seen in this industry because it has this history of being so closely related to the military. Like it's different in software. On the other hand, in that world of like rapidly scaling early stage technology startups with consumer apps or fintech or generative AI tools that people are making now, there's actually a lot of passivity from our government. And where other countries are like, come to Canada, come to Australia, come to Germany, we'll give you funding, we'll give you a visa, we'll give you an office, your life will be great. Like diplomats, you know, running around San Francisco, trying to recruit startup founders to leave in just plain tech. I don't think there's not a cohesive federal policy to try to attract and keep folks here. And there's just less government funding for those types of projects, so it doesn't really matter as much who makes up the company and what citizenship they have. But other countries certainly take an active effort and I think the US could do a lot more to actively be that beacon of hope and try to attract more founders, whether in space, commercial space tech or other just like software technologies to come here. Because what you can build here, it's really hard to do anywhere else in the world. We'll be right back. Welcome back. If you listened to this program enough, then you know that on top of being giant space nerds, we are also big foodies here. Last week, I told you about the first cookie in space that's going on display in the Smithsonian and today I hope you're not hungry, but we're sharing the story of the first chocolate spheres to arrive at the ISS. Yeah, it is enough to make your mouth water. Hang on for this one. A California based startup called Astraeus is working on redefining the multi-sensory pleasure of food in space. Pleasure of food in space? Yes, chocolate in space certainly seems like an indulgence, but we all enjoy eating, don't we? So why not in microgravity? The company announced that it successfully tested and delivered its chocolate spheres to the International Space Station with SpaceX Crew 8's launch on March 4th, 2024. Can you imagine their pleasure in getting chocolate while on the orbiting lab? Astraeus says the delivery was part of their efforts to help improve astronauts' cognitive and physical performance in space. Yes, they mean physical because this chocolate is also, and I quote, "nutrient-packed brain fuel with clean ingredients ethically sourced." No artificial flavors or colors added. Okay, brain fuel chocolate though. That's fascinating. Astraeus says it plans to fine-tune its products, flavor, and nutritional value by engaging with the astronauts to help meet their mission's intense physical and cognitive demands. This feedback loop will guide the company's product development as they aim to support future moon missions and provide nutritional countermeasures for an eventual mission to Mars. You know, Mars bars have chocolate. There's a joke in there, I just cannot find it. Still, chocolate in space. Pretty awesome. [Music] That's it for T-minus for May 15th, 2024, brought to you by N2K CyberWire. For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes at space.n2k.com. As always, 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. 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. 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 Kilpe is our publisher. And I'm your host, Maria Varmausus. Thanks for listening. See you tomorrow. [Music] Team Alice. [Music] [Music] [BLANK_AUDIO]

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