Dish fined by the FCC for bad space debris management. Commercial space stations appear to be in trouble. AFRL announces three JETSON contracts. And...
First commercial space station books launch flight.
VAST books its commercial space station's flight with SpaceX. Ax-2 mission to conduct stem cell research on ISS. Starlink lands first rail customer. And more.
VAST books its commercial space station Haven-1's flight with SpaceX. Axiom-2 mission to conduct stem cell research on ISS. Starlink lands its first rail customer. China’s Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft launches with extra fruit on board, and more.
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Our guest for today’s episode is Bailey Reichelt, Partner and Cofounder of Aegis Law. Our discussion covers regulatory barriers to entry and cost of legal services for space startups, and more.
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>> Maria Varmazis: If you've been listening to space chatter for a while now, you likely know that the International Space Station has an expiration date of 2030 and that a whole bunch of commercial space companies are talking about getting their space stations on orbit to fill the gap that the ISS will leave behind. Yes, lots of talking and lots of planning, in fact, but no clear front runner as to who might get their station to low Earth orbit first, that is, until today.
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And today is May 10, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis, and this is T-Minus.
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VAST books its commercial space station's flight with SpaceX. The Ax-2 mission to conduct stem cell research on ISS. Starlink lands its first rail customer. And stay with us for our discussion today with Bailey Reichelt, partner and cofounder of Aegis Law. If you're navigating regulatory barriers and the cost of legal services for space startups, then you don't want to miss this conversation.
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Now on to today's Intel briefing. Many companies are working on developing their own commercial space stations for scientific research and space tourism, and you might have heard of some of these names of space stations in development before: Star Lab, Orbital Reef, Axiom. But, as of today, add Haven-1 to your mental list. Haven-1 is going to be made by VAST of Long Beach, California. And VAST, for its part, has made big news for the Haven-1 as it has hit a big first. They are now the first company to officially book its commercial space station's flight to low Earth orbit, or LEO. The Haven-1 will head up on a SpaceX Falcon 9 no earlier than August 2025. And shortly after Haven-1 is commissioned and settled nicely on orbit, the plan is that it'll be visited for 30 days by VAST-1 SpaceX Dragon carrying four crew members to Haven-1. The long-term goal for their station, says VAST, is to build out a 100-meter-long multi-module commercial space station with components launched via SpaceX's starship. Once completed, VAST's planned station will spin, creating artificial gravity for all onboard, straight out of sci fi into science fact. And, hey. If you want to be aboard the VAST-1 mission to Haven-1 or the follow-up VAST-2 mission no earlier than 2026, VAST says they're selling all four crew seats to space agencies as well as private individuals involved in science and philanthropic projects. So maybe you can go if the price is right. And while we're on the topic of private space missions, let's check in with our friends at Axiom Space, as they just announced yesterday that the Ax-2 mission's expected to launch no earlier than May 21 of this year from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once the Ax-2 crew are aboard the ISS, they've got lots of work to do carrying out scientific research. One of the experiments for this mission is a notable first. It includes stem cells. The goal is to study the effects of microgravity on induced pluripotent stem cells, or IPSCs, specifically to find out if gravity affects the way that IPSCs develop into cell types like brain cells or heart cells. This research is being conducted along with a Cedar Sinai team, which is providing the IPSCs sees. Making IPSCs on Earth is very difficult because of gravity's negative effect on their growth. So the hope is that, if this research shows that they're easier and faster to grow in space, this could unlock new ways of modeling diseases or of making new disease treatments. Hey, do you remember a time when we could switch off during our vacations and use the excuse of, Sorry; don't have any signal. Those days are gone, certainly for planes. And we can't even use that excuse that much anymore for transit by train either. SpaceX has signed its first rail agreement for Starlink. Via Satellite reports that rail company Brightline is offering free Starlink service on their fleet of five trains servicing South Florida between Miami and West Palm Beach, and it will be extending it to the new fleet to Orlando this summer. The privately owned and operated intercity passenger rail service plans to expand the internet service to Las Vegas and Southern California later this year. SpaceX recently announced that Starlink has surpassed 1.5 million subscribers. And with over 4000 satellites in orbit, that number is expected to rise dramatically in the coming year. Fresh fruit is a luxury in space, and it seems to be high in importance for the Chinese Space Agency. An upgraded Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft launched from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island today. The vehicle was able to increase its payload capacity after reducing its number of propellant tanks by half, to four. Now, according to China Global Television Network, thanks to these improvements made, Tianzhou-6 is able to deliver some 70 kilograms of fresh fruits, double of that of its predecessor, the Tianzhou-5, whose fresh fruit payload included grapes, apples, and bananas, Rafei's favorite. And in addition to the fruit, payloads included frozen food, clothes, holiday and sanitation supplies, as well as experimental equipment for the taikonauts aboard the Tiangong Space Station. On to some US national security news now, and Aalyria has announced a software partnership with defense tech firm Anduril Industries. The partnership will see Aalyria's networking orchestration platform called Spacetime integrate with Anduril's open operating system for national security capabilities known as Lattice. Aalyria CEO Chris Taylor says, Bringing together these two technologies will greatly expand battlefield capabilities. The companies plan to demonstrate the combined capabilities later this year as part of work on the Defense Innovation Unit's hybrid space architecture or has program. The Pentagon has announced funding for commercial satellite imagery services in the latest round of US military aid to Ukraine. The Department of Defense did not specify in the announcement how much was budgeted for imagery services in the latest tranche or who will supply the imagery services. Defense scoop reports that the services are likely to be used by the Ukrainian military to increase their situational awareness and help them target Russian forces. Canada's Space Agency has awarded a contract to Spire Global and OroraTech to monitor wildfires from space. The contract is the initial step towards CSA's planned wildfire SAT mission, which has a goal to monitor all active wildfires in Canada on a daily basis. OroraTech has previously used Spire's space services to launch payloads, including a thermal infrared camera and data processing unit, on a Spire 6 U satellite. The wildfire SAT program is expected to begin in Spring 2024, with the aim for the project to be delivered in 2029. Satellite communications company Yahsat has reported a 35 percent surge in net profits for Q1. The increased performance was largely driven by Yahsat's managed solution segment, with further growth in the infrastructure and data solution sectors. The Abu Dhabi based company is planning a 2024 launch of their Thuraya 4-NGS satellite, followed by two potential new satellites, the Al Yah 4 and the Al Yah 5, which they hope will continue to present growth opportunities. Space News is reporting that Orbital Outpost X has raised $5 million from space infrastructures ventures of the Netherlands. The space technology startup, formerly called Space Villages, plans to use the funding to develop components, systems, and subsystems for commercial space stations. Space infrastructures Ventures has also invested in a sister company in the Netherlands that is backed by ESA as part of its goal to deploy a commercial space station by the end of the decade. From habitats to humanity now, and Warp Space has signed a partnership with LatConnect 60 Ltd. to monitor carbon emissions from space. LatConnect 60 Ltd. is developing a constellation of satellites to measure carbon emission concentrations from flow rates as low as 50 kilograms an hour and higher. Warp Space is developing a space communications network to promote visualization of the Earth. The partnership plans to launch their first satellite into LEO in late 2025. And, now, no disputing this one. It's tough to find and keep good talent in the space industry. But I think retiring after decades of service is an acceptable reason for leaving NASA. The Associate Administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, James Reuter, has announced that he will retire from the agency after 40 years of service. Reuter has served in multiple leadership roles in the agency's human spaceflight programs and at the Marshall Space Flight Center. His NASA career actually began at Marshall, where he was an aerospace engineer in the structures and propulsion laboratory. So a question for Mr. Reuter and for you, dear listener, what motivated you to start your career in space? Now, some of us are nerds. And some of us have a passion for science, and that Venn diagram does certainly overlap. But it seems like most of us were in space employment by 35. And that's according to a new study by the Space Skills Alliance. The study is focused on the UK space workforce and found that half, around 47 percent, joined the space sector as new graduates; and over three-quarters, approximately 77 percent, had joined by the age of 35. Interestingly, though, only 5 percent of respondents said they were motivated to join the space workforce through school outreach. If you heard my interview with Jack Madly for EVONA in yesterday's program, you'll know that outreach is still limited in schools across the pond. And if you want to read more about the results of the poll, then definitely head over to our selected reading section on our website over at space.n2k.com.
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And that is it for our daily briefing for today. Stay with us for my discussion with Bailey Reichelt, partner and cofounder of Aegis Law, for our chat about navigating space law. Hey, T-Minus crew. If you find our podcast useful, and I really hope you do, please do us a favor and share a 5-star rating and short review in your favorite podcast app. It will always help other space professionals just like you to find the show and join the T-Minus crew. Thank you so much, and we really appreciate it.
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And we'll be right back. Maybe you got into aerospace because you wanted to build cool things or solve tough problems and maybe not so much because of the paperwork. But understanding the nuts and bolts of space law can mean a difference between a space startup's flourishing success or a costly drawn-out defeat. So how do you not get stuck in the valley of death? And what's the valley of death? Let's get into what it all means with an expert who knows all about space law.
>> Bailey Reichelt: Well, the first thing I want to say is that a lot of entrepreneurs think that the technology to get to space or to do what they want in space is the hardest part of the whole process when, unfortunately, it's only one aspect of the process of launching a successful space startup company or getting mission 1 successfully completed. There's actually quite a few different federal agencies that you have to talk to, depending on what your mission is. We like to focus on a core five, but there can be up to 15 or so, depending on what you're doing and how sensitive it is. So among those basic ones that almost every space company will have to talk to you, you're going to deal with export controls, first of all. And in the United States, that means the State Department for the ITAR and the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security for the EAR. You're also going to deal with the FCC because you're going to need to have some way to communicate with your thing when it's in space. Or even with the launch vehicle on the pad, you're going to be asking for spectrum allocation from the FCC. You're also going to have remote sensing licensing, which is NOAA, which is a division of the Department of Commerce. So anytime your sensor points towards the Earth, there's some national security review that goes into exactly how detailed those images are. And, again, NOAA offers the licenses for that. You're also going to be talking to the FAA, so the Federal Aviation Administration. They're going to govern several things but, notably, payload reviews and launch licensing. And, of course, if you're dealing with spaceports, they also deal in spaceports as well. So you're going to go through that process with them. That's the core five we like to talk about. And they have varying timelines and varying costs associated with them. And depending on the complexity of your mission is how soon you need to be talking to each one and how much money you should anticipate you're going to need to spend at each regulatory stage.
>> Maria Varmazis: I imagine the cost could be quite a barrier for some startups. I mean, can you talk a little bit to that.
>> Bailey Reichelt: Of course. So starting in the order I talked about the agencies to begin with, the State Department is actually not that expensive, but it does have a cost if you need to register as a manufacturer under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. So if you're manufacturing something that could be considered a defense article, which means it's listed on the United States Munitions List, then you need to register. And that registration has a cost of $2,250 for the first year. And then the first ten licenses under that are included in that cost, but above that you're going to pay per license. The corresponding part of export controls under the Department of Commerce BIS is free. You do not have to pay fees to sign up or create an account there or get the licenses issued. So that's good news. FCC is normally the biggest cost hurdle, depending on what part of the FCC you're authorizing your spectral allocation under. So a full constellation license under Part 25 can run hundreds of thousands of dollars. And depending on how contested the spectrum is, is how much time you're going to spend going back and forth in the processing rounds to try to get that spectral allocation. And the fees for the FCC are only one part of it. The application is very complicated. You normally need a spectrum engineer, and you're going to need counsel most of the time to help you navigate, like, those processing rounds comments. So paying for the lawyers and the spectrum engineer -- and, frankly, the spectrum engineers are more expensive than the lawyers half the time -- all of those costs compound, regardless of what your application or annual fees are for the FCC. If you get down into different areas such as experimental license, your fees are pretty nominal. They're in the hundreds of dollars. So it really runs the gamut, depending on what you're doing, from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands. But then you have all the administrative excess like engineers and lawyers to help you figure out which process you need. So that's going to add its own cost.
>> Maria Varmazis: And it's highly variable too.
>> Bailey Reichelt: Yeah. It's quite variable. And you really need to ask these questions early on and start scoping out the mission early on. Choosing the wrong antenna, you know, and engineering that into your spacecraft and then realizing you're going to have to fight like Inmarsat or SpaceX to be able to use that antenna, you just added on all of these costs and engineering around a new antenna when you're already way into the process, you've already got customers. Again, sunk cost, you're going to have to decide whether you're going to go with a regulatory battle or you're going to reengineer your mission around different hardware. So those are really hard to figure out, but they are real costs that you need to think about very early on. The other agencies so FAA doesn't charge anything. However, there are costs around it such as if you have environmental assessments that have to be done, you're going to have to pay the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, to come in and do that. If you need a payload review because you have some sort of novel payload, you're not going to pay for that. And most of the time, payload review is actually done by the launch providers. So that would be something baked into your launch provider's tasks. So, if you're the launch provider, that's something you would consider. And, finally, NOAA. NOAA has no cost either. Luckily, Department of Commerce is not going to charge you anything for export controls or the NOAA remote sensing licensing. And the remote sensing licensing is probably the shortest time period and actually easiest to accomplish. You'll start by literally typing your mission description into a Google Form on their website, submitting it, and someone will email you and tell you if they want more information or not.
>> Maria Varmazis: When do you bring all these folks in to make sure that you're not completely caught by surprise by all these things that have to come into play?
>> Bailey Reichelt: Yeah. Really great question. So we actually -- my law firm represents a whole slew of different types of companies from orbital transfer rendezvous docking mission spacecraft to, like, asteroid mining companies. So the novelty of your mission and whether there's been a regulatory path blazed really affects your timeline. If you're doing something incredibly novel or maybe something dangerous or perceived to be dangerous such as, like, using nuclear fuel, things like that, you want to start way earlier. And, by way earlier, a year and a half to two years talking about these things. And if you're doing something that's relatively off the shelf, it's been done by commercial companies over and over at this point, probably in the six months to a year range.
>> Maria Varmazis: Are there specific traps maybe is not the right word but places where people get snagged that, you know, aside from people not being brought in early enough, are there other parts in the process where you're like, yeah. This tends to be a particularly thorny spot.
>> Bailey Reichelt: You know, it's mostly in the novelty of space tech because the government can't keep up with how fast we're innovating on the commercial side. So give you an example. Export controls. A lot of times companies have questions. Well, if I literally want to operate a forge in space, the EAR and the ITAR say, you know, space is not the jurisdiction of the US. It's not an export to launch something into space. If I literally forge some sort of defense article on orbit and sell it to a foreign country or maybe a prohibited party, someone from Russia. We know we have Russian astronauts or Chinese astronauts, does that constitute an export? Do I need permission for that? Well, these scenarios, while they're not immediately scenarios the government's concerned with because they're not actively happening, a lot of companies, when they're taking investment, the investors want to know what's the likelihood the government is going to regulate your business out of existence. And we don't have answers to some of those questions. The government is not anticipating innovative uses of technology or say, like, the fact that a 3D printer can make literally anything. You know, if a foreign person comes in and rents a factory of 3D printers, they can make a whole fleet of aircraft parts that are highly controlled. How do we regulate these new and novel activities and applications? And the government's just not keeping up with that. I could go on and on with examples like in telecoms and space tugs and orbital transfer, as well. Like, the path just hasn't been blazed. And some of the paths have been blazed. The government came back and said, yeah; we don't really liked how we authorize that the first time. Let's not do that again and kind of shut down that initial path. Thinking about, gosh, Northrop Grumman and maybe wanting to -- and how they use temporary authority for their on-orbit transformations, the government's come back and said, We don't like that path. Figure out a new one. And so now we have companies scrambling to kind of figure out, Okay. What is that path going to look like?
>> Maria Varmazis: Oh, wow. And that could add years to your process, right, I mean, that you weren't anticipating. And that could sink a startup, for example, right?
>> Bailey Reichelt: Absolutely. It's something you absolutely have to think about. The DoD started calling this the valley of death. But theirs has to do with funding. We've kind of spun off of that the regulatory valley of death. Companies get funded. They think they have everything together. And then they initiate a conversation with an agency, and they're like, Oh. That six months and $100,000, we did not build into our plan.
>> Maria Varmazis: Is there any advice that we can give a startup that might be looking at something like this and going, how do I make sure that I don't get stuck in that valley of death?
>> Bailey Reichelt: For one, you can always engage counsel that has experience in these matters. Aegis has tried to create kind of holistic solution for space startups in that we've gathered attorneys with expertise in kind of these core areas that space startups need to be aware of. So, say, telecoms and export controls, like, we have specific expertise in those areas. And we have a contractor that we work with that does say launch licensing under Part 450. So there are definitely resources out there that have awareness of these issues that you can have consults with early on. But also there's educational materials available online. There's a few of them. It's not widely abundant, but you can look at places like the association of commercial space professionals who are aggregating information and educational materials for companies to be able to address some of those regulatory hurdles and just have awareness of them early on.
>> Maria Varmazis: Bringing that expertise as early as you possibly can. That makes a lot of sense to me. Bailey, thank you so much for walking us through this. It's really important that people understand this process, and I greatly appreciate you sharing your expertise with us. Thank you so much.
>> Bailey Reichelt: Thank you so much. Have a great day.
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>> Maria Varmazis: And we'll be right back. And welcome back. Scientific space missions are often a treat for our brains, eyes, and hearts; but they're not often a treat for the ears, that is, until you invite a musician to be inspired by what we're seeing in space. In an unexpected but very awesome collaboration, the National Philharmonic and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have teamed up to present two performances of Cosmic Cycles, a Space Symphony written by composer Henry Dellinger. This seven movement suite will be performed by the National Philharmonic in the DC area this week, and the pieces -- and you're listening to a medley of them now -- have all been inspired by Hubble and Webb imagery. The movements are The Sun; Earth, Our Home; Earth as Art; The Moon; Planetary Fantasia; The Travelers; and Echoes of the Big Bang. NASA provided the still and video imagery that will also be seen as the music is performed. And if you get to a performance in person, arrive a little early for the preshow. Not only will NASA Goddard scientists and staff and NASA astronauts all be there to talk about space with the attendees but, if you get there early, you can also touch a real moon rock. Listen. When symphonic music fans tailgate, they do it right.
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And that's it for T-Minus for May 10, 2023. 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 our podcast. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or submit the survey in our 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, mixing by Elliot Peltzman and Tré 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 Maria Varmazis. See you tomorrow.
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