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Satcom merger gets the green light.

Viasat-Inmarsat merger gets green light. ClearSpace to use Arianespace for debris de-orbit. NASA’s plans to deorbit the ISS. Careers with EVONA. And more.





Viasat’s proposed acquisition of Inmarsat gets the green light. Swiss start-up ClearSpace has contracted with Arianespace to launch its first debris de-orbit mission. NASA has released a draft request for proposals for a vehicle to deorbit the International Space Station, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our featured interview today is Jack Madley, cofounder of EVONA, on space industry workforce development and careers.

You can follow Jack on LinkedIn.

Selected Reading

Viasat’s Proposed Acquisition of Inmarsat Receives Unconditional Clearance From UK’s Competition and Markets Authority 

Strategizing planetary defense- The Space Review

ClearSpace books Vega C for 2026 de-orbit mission - SpaceNews 

NASA proposes “hybrid” contract approach for space station deorbit vehicle - SpaceNews 

Momentus tug raises orbit with water-fueled thruster- SpaceNews

Space Force reviewing bids from satellite manufacturers for Space Test Program- SpaceNews

Commercial Space Office’s Kniseley keeps focus on industry engagement- Defense News 

Bentivegna named Space Force’s next top enlisted leader- Air Force Times

JAXA’s Head Visits Australia to Promote Greater Space Cooperation- Space and Defense

TRL Space awarded ESA funding – SatNews  

How space will help football fans to celebrate sport- ESA

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>> Alice Carruth: Sir Winston Churchill first coined the term "special relationship" to describe the alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States back in the 1940s. So what happens when two of the largest communication companies in the US and UK merge? It's bound to be special. Right?

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>> Unidentified Person: T-Minus, 20 seconds to [inaudible].

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>> Alice Carruth: Today is May 9th, 2023. I'm Alice Carruth. And this is T-Minus.

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Viasat's proposed acquisition of Inmarsat gets the green light. Swiss startup ClearSpace contracts with Arianespace to launch its first debris deorbit mission. NASA releases a draft request for proposals for a vehicle to deorbit the International Space Station. And stay with us for the second part of the show when our host, Maria, will be discussing space industry workforce development and careers with our guest Jack Madley, co-founder of EVONA.

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Onto today's intel briefing. The world might be facing a global recession. But it's not deterring two of the largest communication companies who are looking to merge under a $7.3 billion deal. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has officially given its blessing for the US communication company Viasat and rival London-based Inmarsat to proceed with their proposed union. It's not a done deal yet. But it's certainly a leap in the right direction. The proposed deal was announced some months ago. But today's decision comes on the heels of criticism from organizations such as the European Commission, that stated in February it was launching an investigation into the merger, claiming that it reduced competition in the market. It's worth noting that the UK Government had already green-lighted the deal on national security grounds, concluding that the merger would not pose a risk. So what are the companies saying after the announcement from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority? Well, Viasat's chairman and CEO, Mark Dankberg, says the decision validates Viasat's position that the combination of the two companies will strengthen competition in a dynamic market that continues to attract substantial levels of investment. And Inmarsat's Chief Executive Officer, Rajeev Suri, echoed the sentiment, adding that it's hugely significant for the UK's space ambitions and customers everywhere. Both companies have further regulatory approvals to get through before the merger will complete. And we expect an update soon. And staying with power partnerships, Swiss startup ClearSpace has contracted with Arianespace to launch its first debris deorbit mission. ESA signed a contract with ClearSpace in 2021 to remove the VEGA Secondary Payload Adapter known as Vespa from low-Earth orbit and drag it down to the Earth's atmosphere, where both the Vespa and ClearSpace-1 vehicle will burn up. The launch of Arianespace's Vega C rocket with ClearSpace's payload is not expected until 2026. And speaking of space debris, NASA has released a draft request for proposals for a vehicle to deorbit the International Space Station. The spacecraft known as the United States Deorbit Vehicle would dock with the station and perform a controlled reentry of it. NASA has budgeted $180 million for the next fiscal year to start working on deorbiting the ISS, which will conclude its mission in 2030. US space company, Momentus, says it's achieved the first orbit raise of its Vigoride-5 spacecraft using a microwave electro-thermal thruster that uses distilled water as a propellant. The maneuvers raised the altitude of the Vigoride orbital service vehicle by more than three kilometers. Momentus says that the orbital altitude raises are an integral part of the company's transportation service offering that aims to deliver customer satellites to precise and custom orbits. Multiple stories on commercialization programs from the US Space Force today. Space Force is considering proposals from satellite makers for the Space Test experiment platform, or STEP 2.0, as reported by Space News. The goal is to use commercial spacecraft with a track record of successful flights to host payloads sponsored by the Department of Defense over the next 10 years. The first order to be awarded will be a 12U cubesat set to launch in 2025. These compact satellites are well-liked due to their cost effectiveness, quick development, and ability to launch as secondary payloads on bigger missions. They can serve a variety of purposes, such as Earth observation, communication, scientific research, and demonstrating new technologies. The STEP 2.0 program seeks to use affordable commercial buses, especially ESPA-class rings, to bring together as many small satellite experiments as possible on a single platform. ESPA-class rings, or Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapters, make it possible to launch multiple small payloads in one rocket. The adapter acts as a link both structurally and electrically between the main payload, secondary payloads, and the launch vehicle. Vendors chosen under STEP 2.0, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, or IDIQ contract will compete for orders to build spacecraft, integrate payloads with launch vehicles, and provide ground support for in-orbit operations. The Space Force has also announced the creation of a Commercial Space Office to better integrate commercial capabilities across its operations. Led by Colonel Richard Kniseley, the office will focus on developing a framework for a commercial augmentation space reserve by this summer and expand the space domain awareness marketplace. The Commercial Space Office will be headquartered in Chantilly, Virginia, and aims to strengthen partnerships with commercial entities and streamline integration of their capabilities into the Space Force. Initial priorities for the Commercial Space Office include transitioning the Commercial Satellite Communication Office away from the Defense Information Systems Agency and setting up a working capital fund by the end of September to make deliberate investments in commercial ventures that cater to warfighter needs collaborating with the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit and Naval Research Lab. And one more from the Space Force. Our heartfelt congratulations to Chief Master Sergeant John Bentivegna, who was announced as the Space Force's next top enlisted leader. Bentivegna will become the second person to hold the title of Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force since the newest branch of the US Armed Forces was created in December 2019. JAXA President, Hiroshi Yamakawa, has expressed interest in increased collaboration between the Japanese Space Agency in Australia, aiming to push human presence beyond the Moon within this decade. At the Andy Thomas Space Foundation dinner in Adelaide on May the 8th, Yamakawa highlighted existing cooperation in space science missions and the International Space Station and proposed expanding collaboration in Earth navigation and observation satellite systems, communication systems, and ground segment efforts. The European Space Agency has awarded a contract for the Lunar Geology Orbiter Mission to an international consortium led by Czech company TRL Space. LUGO aims to explore the Moon's geology, understand the age of volcanic activity, and detect lunar caves. The 200-kilogram orbiter is expected to reach the Moon by 2030. Its sensor suite includes a mapping LiDAR system, an Italian ground penetrating radar, a Finnish hyperspectral sensor, and a narrow-angle camera from Estonia, truly an international collaboration. The final mission design will be presented to ESA by the end of 2023.

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That concludes our briefing for today. Make sure you check out the Selected Reading section on our website for more information on the stories that we've covered and some that we missed at space.n2k.com. Hey, T-Minus crew, our audience is growing rapidly. And that's a big thanks to you. If you're just joining us, be sure to make sure you follow T-Minus Space Daily in your favorite podcast app. And also do us a favor. Please share your favorite episodes on social media. It helps professionals like you find the show and join the crew. You can find our social media profiles in the show notes and @space.n2k.com.

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Our featured interview today is with Jack Madley, co-founder of EVONA, on space industry workforce development and careers.

>> Jack Madley: Hi. My name is Jack Madley. I'm one of the co-founders of EVONA. We set the business up in 2018 with a mission to become the go-to space industry staffing partner across the UK, Europe, and the US. So now, nearly five years on, we've grown the business from four people to 60 people. And we're still scaling.

>> Maria Varmazis: Excellent. Jack. Thank you so much for joining me today. So what trends have you been noticing in terms of talent acquisition in the space industry?

>> Jack Madley: Definitely more recently, people are transitioning to taking their products which they've been working on in an R&D phase for taking a concept through to reality and really looking to take that product to market now, be it a piece of hardware, be it software, or utilizing satellite data, whether they may have built more potential applications, if we look it at the downstream side, and how people use satellite data, and taking that to market now. So we definitely see more demand for the nontechnical side of things, if you like. And that's a real massive opportunity for anybody looking to get into the space sector, who might not necessarily have any space sector experience. Because to be a good salesperson, to take a product to market, to take a solution to market, you can definitely have transferable skills from other sectors. And there's obviously a certain type of sales ability that you need, and a certain way of doing things, which doesn't necessarily mean you have had to go and work from other space companies. That's definitely interesting. And similarly, across other different functions, we're seeing a massive rise in terms of people on the legal side, the compliance side. We see on the operational, the HR, the finance, project management, program management. So, yeah, some more of the nontechnical side of things. People just think engineering and technology when they think of the space sector, I think, and obviously astronauts. That's the classic cliché that space is just astronauts. But it's definitely, you know, how do we take these products to market? How do these businesses then become more established, take it to the next -- take themselves up to the next scale of growth? And they obviously need the operational side to be able to do that as well because it's a young industry. We'll see in a lot of that now. A lot of companies have set for the last three to five years. How do they take the next step and take them into the market and really scale their business?

>> Maria Varmazis: That's fascinating to see the maturity of the market, sort of, reflected in the job opportunities that are being provided there. If I was already, say, in the space industry, and I was looking to make a move, is there something you would recommend to someone like me? I suppose it does depend a lot on what kind of work I'm doing. But are there certain things that you recommend to people who are trying to maybe move up on the ladder, specifically within the space industry, that maybe an event that they should attend or some kind of networking tip or anything like that?

>> Jack Madley: Yeah, absolutely. Of course, I got to say, get in touch with EVONA as a partner and see what jobs we've got available because all we do is partner with space companies. So please do reach out. But there's definitely a very open and welcoming community within the space sector and the space industry. There's multiple events. I myself have been to the SmallSat conference in Utah last year. I went to SATELLITE in DC. We've obviously got the Space Symposium. So these are all massive events. The main players in the market and up-and-comers, and new businesses, they all have a part to play in those events. I do think those events are really well structured for having, you know, as far as the primes attend, as well as very, very early-stage companies. So there is an opportunity to, kind of, walk the floor, so to speak, expose yourself to different companies, and get a real feel for what these companies are doing. And everyone's very welcoming, very keen to, kind of, tell you a bit about what they're doing. And I'll be confident in saying this is probably, if not the most exciting sector out there. We truly believe that here at EVONA that, you know, you're really working with companies who are doing leading edge stuff, pushing the boundaries of what's actually possible, coming up with stuff that people wouldn't even believe was going to happen, you know, five, 10 years ago, even. So, yeah. Get -- definitely, the event side is the way forward. And then the other thing, I think, is more exposure on any network and tools that you can use. LinkedIn is obviously a go-to. But, you know, make sure your profile is up is ready to go to be able to take to market if you really want to explore something new within the space.

>> Maria Varmazis: Absolutely. Now, when you're talking to people who are, you know, trying to work their way through, find that next role, their next step in the career, are they hitting -- are you seeing any common threads and barriers that people are hitting?

>> Jack Madley: We've definitely gone through a bit of a stage where we had the pandemic. I don't really want to talk about it. And I know not a lot of people rarely mention it anymore. But we obviously went through a period where everybody went remote. Then everybody came back to almost like a hybrid, you know. Some people wanted to stay remote. Some companies are able to accommodate remote working. But then, you know, if you're looking at more engineering and hardware-focused space sector companies, you know, if you're building a spacecraft bus, or whatever it may be, you know, often you need people on site. And I think that could potentially be one of the barriers, I think, people have taken for granted. Sometimes they probably have a bit more freedom and remote work than what we'd ever seen before. And it's just whether companies can sustain that specifically for certain types of roles. There's certain jobs which you can do remotely all the time. And it doesn't really impact anything. But when you have to get hands-on with hardware, or program a board, or to soldiering on a circuitry piece, you know, it is what it is. You have to be on-site to do that. So that's one of the things. It's just understanding what part of the market you're entering, what type of job you're going to be doing, and, you know, whether you need to be on-site in that particular thing. And it may be a case of you having to relocate. That's definitely one of the things that we're noticing now as more companies try to battle with that balance of the remote versus on-site working piece.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah. That's not surprising at all to hear. One thing that's been really interesting to me in discussing the growth from new space is, sort of, the role that education has been playing in trying to feed the pipeline. Do you see that reflected in terms of who's coming up into the space industry, maybe more people with educational credentials that perhaps didn't exist up until pretty recently that are more relevant to the space industry than ever before?

>> Jack Madley: I think we could see that there's definitely some positive action being taken to educate the younger generations around the opportunities in the space sector. I would say, unfortunately, though, there is a gap. I think people are putting a lot of effort -- and we pride ourselves at EVONA. We're going into schools and talking and do STEM events to undergraduates and college students, et cetera, about, you know, the opportunities and what jobs they can really get. And again, you know, touching on that, you know, you don't just have to be an astronaut to be in the space sector. There's lots of opportunities across the board within the sector. But -- and we're starting. And a lot of our guys go into schools, even at almost like primary and, you know, ages five to 10, and teaching people about satellites and then putting paper satellites together, you know, get them in hands-on involved in understanding that stuff. And there's definitely stuff, I would say, of course, we've been involved in events across the US and Europe. And there's a lot of stuff big going on. But unfortunately, there's -- there is already that gap of there's not enough talent coming into the sector, because it's something that which we'll probably need to in five to 10 years ago. But there was a bit of a gap. But again, it is the new space industry has exploded over the last few years. And, you know, that part has organically created a gap. So there's a lot more work to do. And I think, you know -- but there's always more you can do in this situation. I think companies have really got to be understanding of what they can do to open up their talent pools or open up the candidate pools as wide as possible to give people as much opportunity as possible to, kind of, enter the sector, I think companies if they do want to grow, need to be a bit more flexible in terms of the types of backgrounds they're taking on. Because otherwise, people are just taking people from other companies, you know. Everybody wants to hire the best candidates, obviously. But currently, there's not enough to go around. So the only way is getting more people in. So, yeah. There's some good work being done. But there's definitely more we can do.

>> Maria Varmazis: Oh, that's such a great point about -- I was going to ask. And you kind of anticipated what your advice would be to companies that are looking to hire. It sounds like maybe opening the net a little wider. Anything else you would advise to companies that are on the hunt for -- in a very competitive field? I think it's just understand that there are certain roles which you absolutely will need some space or satellite experience or space sector experience. And, you know, sometimes that's just like a non-negotiable. But there are lots and lots of areas where you really can look outside of the space sector to bring people in. And, you know, the great news is, you know, what that does is bring diversification, different people of different backgrounds, different industries. You may get people from medical devices, for example, someone who has worked in defense who wants to transition into space and kind of tweak their skill set. You -- with that, you bring different ideas. And it's usually outside of people's networks. You know, when people scale companies, people usually build it on their own referral networks and the people that they know. But one of the, kind of, traps that a company can fall into is that you come to transition one culture from a company to another. And that's not to say, you know, that's a bad thing. You can bring the best parts from another business into your own and, kind of, grow that business. But in terms of that diversification, bit of diversity bit, you know, bringing people from lots of different backgrounds is a massive driver to that success. And it will allow people to hire more people, better people, and more diverse work in a talent pool. So I think that's something to keep an open mind on.

>> Maria Varmazis: Thank you, Jack. That's some great advice. I really appreciate that. I want to give you the forum. Anything you want to add before we close out? Any advice to either jobseekers or companies that maybe we didn't touch on yet?

>> Jack Madley: Yeah. It's a very exciting place to be. And people just say, like, don't be put off by the fact you think that there's not an opportunity for you in this space sector. There's an opportunity for everybody. So just get out there. Have the confidence to get involved. And let's see where it takes you.

>> Maria Varmazis: Jack, that's brilliant. Thank you so much for joining me today.

>> Jack Madley: Thank you very much.

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>> Alice Carruth: What does space and sport have in common, other than the fans' passion and the drama, of course? Well, ESA says that space can help with monitoring economic benefits and safety as well. The European Space Agency is partnering with UEFA, the Union of European Football Associates. That's real football, by the way, not that touchball game called football in the US. ESA plans to use space data to identify the benefits that a stadium could bring to its local community. The partnership also aims to combine satellite images with socioeconomic data and other information, such as weather and irrigation, to identify the effects of the presence of a football pitch to the local communities and federations. It is a beautiful game, after all. That only makes sense that Space wants in on it.

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That's it for T-Minus for May the 9th, 2023. For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes @space.n2k.com. We're privileged that N2K 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 mixed by Elliott Peltzman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliott Peltzman. Our executive producer is Brandon Karpf. Our chief intelligence officer is Eric Tillman. And I'm Alice Carruth. Thanks for listening.

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>> Unidentified Person: T-Minus. Done.

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