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Go for Launch for Ariane 6.

Ariane 6’s launch window opens. Gravitics to develop a module for Axiom’s space station. JAXA solicits proposals to expand Japan’s space industry. And more.




The long-awaited Ariane 6 is scheduled to make its inaugural launch from Kourou, French Guiana. Gravitics has signed a $125 million contract to expand Axiom Space’s planned space station. Japan’s Space Agency is soliciting proposals as part of a new Space Strategic Fund established by the Japanese government which will offer one trillion yen ($6.2 billion) to Japanese companies to help expand the country’s space industry, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Dr. Brien Flewelling, Director of Strategic Program Development at ExoAnalytic Solutions.

You can connect with Brien on LinkedIn, and learn more about Exoanalytic Solutions on their website.

Selected Reading

ESA - Ariane 6 launch: how to watch and what to look out for 

Space station startup Gravitics lands $125 million order from Axiom

Astroscale’s ADRAS-J Conducts First Fly-Around Observation of Space Debris

JAXA | 宇宙戦略基金事業 技術開発課題の公募を開始

SpaceX launches Türksat 6A satellite, Turkey’s first domestically-build satellite – Spaceflight Now

China-France astronomical satellite identifies three gamma-ray bursts - CGTN

Redwire Developing Advanced Thruster Technology to Offer Reliable, High-Volume Production to Support DoD Small Satellite Supply Chain- Business Wire

Exclusive: Japan must strengthen NATO ties to safeguard global peace, PM says- Reuters

Capital Factory to Co-Host Micro Summit on Tech Innovation — and Special Announcement in the Nation’s Capital- Business Wire

NASA Moon Rocket Stage for Artemis II Moved, Prepped for Shipment

NASA, Boeing Provide Next Update on Space Station Crew Flight Test

AI vulnerabilities to space pirates: Cyberattacks in space can threaten life on Earth - Fast Company

Max Space Appoints Space Program and Operations Veteran Kirsten Whittingham as President- Business Wire

New HBO Original Documentary ‘Wild Wild Space’ Features Planet’s Origin Story and Space Industry Trajectory- Business Wire

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[MUSIC] Hey, there's a rocket launch happening today, maybe even right now, or maybe it's already happened. It's the Ariane 6. Lots of people have been waiting for this launch day for years. But timing of the launch being what it is, I can't really tell you if it has launched for sure. When I wrote and recorded this bit, it hadn't happened yet, but maybe by the time you hear me just a few hours later, it has happened. We are nothing if not helpful, or at least trying to be here at T-minus. [MUSIC] Today is July 9th, 2024. I'm Maria Varmausis, and this is T-minus. [MUSIC] The launch window opens for Ariane 6, Gravidx to develop a module for Axiom's space station. JAXA solicits proposals to expand Japan's space industry. And our guest today is Dr. Brian Fluelling, Director of Strategic Program Development at Exoanalytic. Brian and I will be discussing moving beyond space domain awareness to space domain understanding. So stay with us for that chat. [MUSIC] It's Tuesday, let's get into our Intel briefing. The long-awaited Ariane 6, ESA's new workhorse Rocket by Ariane Space, is scheduled to make its inaugural launch from Kuru, French Guiana today. ESA did post a recent launch update about a minor issue they recently found, noting that routine checks in the ground segment equipment showed a small issue in the data acquisition system. And importantly, that the issue has also been resolved. That issue, however, did bump out the scheduled launch time by an hour. Lift off is now scheduled for 3 PM Eastern Time, with the launch window from 3 to 6 PM Eastern Time. So by the time you're listening to this, it has either already happened, or it is about to, or it has been delayed. Timing is a bit tricky given the Ariane 6 is supposed to launch around the same time this episode goes to publish. So wishing all the best of luck to ESA and the Ariane 6 team for a successful first launch. And here's hoping we'll have happy news about the Ariane 6 to share with you in tomorrow's show. From things that may or may not happen to a sure thing now, CNBC is reporting that Gravidix has signed a $125 million contract to expand Axiom Space's planned space station. Axiom already has modules of its space station being built by Italian aerospace contractor, TelesaLenia. Their Gravidix order adds another pressurized spacecraft that would attach to Axiom's station after its planned launch in two years. The space station modules Gravidix is designing range from nine feet to 26 feet in diameter with the largest module, which the company boasts will have the largest interior volume in standalone spacecraft named StarMax. Gravidix plans to launch some of its components to the ISS later this year for testing and aims to have a subscale spacecraft launched by 2026. Astroscale Japan says its commercial debris inspection demonstration satellite has successfully taken further images of a debris object in space. The company says the images have further demonstrated the effectiveness of its collision avoidance system while conducting a fly around observation of the debris. This time it's a rocket upper stage. The active debris removal by Astroscale Japan satellite, also known as address J, has successfully demonstrated a series of rendezvous and proximity operations since its deployment in February. And staying in Japan, the country's space agency is soliciting proposals as part of a new space strategic fund established by the Japanese government, which will offer 1 trillion yen, which is about 6.2 billion dollars over 10 years to Japanese companies to help expand the country's space industry. Five of the 22 technology development themes under the fiscal year 2023 supplementary budget are open to public applications. And the five themes include number one, innovative technologies for improving the weight performance and cost of space transportation vehicles. Number two, accelerating the construction of commercial satellite constellations. Number three, development and demonstration of lunar water resource exploration technology. Number four, lunar earth communication system development and demonstration. And number five, regenerative fuel cell systems. The remaining 17 themes will be open to public submissions from mid July onwards. And JAXA says it will play a role as a hub for technology development and demonstration, human resources, technical information and more across industry, academia and government, both domestically and internationally. And we'll work to operate this project by bringing together the full strength of Japan's industry, academia and government. Turkey's first domestically built satellite has been transported into orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The TIRXAT 6A aims to widen Turkey's satellite coverage and meet its television broadcasting needs. Turkey's Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Abdullah Kir Urololu called the TIRXAT 6A geostationary satellite the symbol of our independence. And that the launch marked the opening of a new phase for the country in satellite production. Following the launch, Turkish President Erdogan expressed his gratitude to SpaceX and its founder Elon Musk in a statement on X, stating that Turkey is pleased to strengthen cooperation with Elon Musk and SpaceX in various fields. A joint Chinese and French designed astronomical satellite named Space Based Multiband Variable Object Monitor, or SVOM, has detected three gamma ray bursts two weeks after launch. According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, these gamma ray bursts represent some of the most violent cosmic explosions since the Big Bang, offering valuable insights into the universe's formation and evolution. Researchers say that understanding these bursts can answer fundamental scientific questions about the cosmos. Redwire has signed a strategic cooperation agreement within Space Propulsion Company Phase 4 to build and deliver thruster technology designed for high volume production to meet the surge in demand across national security space programs. The agreement provides a framework which allows for joint development of this thruster. Based on the NASA-designed and tested H71M Hall Effect Thruster, the two companies will manufacture a family of propulsion systems, spanning a range of input power and propellants. Reuters is running an exclusive interview with Japan's Prime Minister, Humeo Kishida, ahead of the NATO summit in Washington, DC. Kishida called on the Alliance to cooperate to confront you security threats that transcend geographical boundaries, such as cyber attacks and conflicts in space. The PM says this, Japan is determined to strengthen its cooperation with NATO and its partners. South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, which along with Japan are known as the Indo-Pacific Four, are also attending the July 10 and 11 meeting with NATO leaders. And held on the sidelines of the NATO summit is the micro summit, called NATO to the Future, preparing for coming disruptions. During the meeting, city leaders in Washington, DC are expected to announce a new partnership with Capital Factory, a tech investor group based in Texas. The partnership plans to accelerate the development of frontier technology, particularly in space, to advance U.S. national interest. NASA and Boeing have moved the Artemis II rocket stage to another part of the U.S. space agency's Mishu assembly facility in New Orleans. The move comes as teams prepare to roll the massive rocket stage to the agency's Pegasus Barge for delivery to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in mid-July. And we're finishing up with news from the so-called, we're not saying it, but other people are, stranded astronauts on the ISS. So-called because they are not exactly stranded now, are they? Boeing and NASA, you might remember, have called a media briefing for tomorrow afternoon to provide an update on the Starliner mission. I'm sure a lot of us will be watching that one. So we will be bringing you more details from that briefing over the next two days. And that concludes our briefing for today. You'll find links to further reading in our show notes on all the stories that we've mentioned, and you'll also find two additional stories to read. One is on AI vulnerabilities to space pirates, and the other is on the new president appointment at Max Space. Hey, T-Minus Crew, if you are just joining us, be sure to follow T-Minus Space Daily and your favorite podcast app. Also, if you could do us a favor, share the intel with your friends and co-workers. So here's a little challenge for you. By Friday, please show three friends or co-workers this podcast. That's because a growing audience is the most important thing for us, and we, as always, would love your help as part of the T-Minus crew. So if you find T-Minus useful, please share the show so other professionals like you can find it. Thank you so much for your support, everybody. It means a lot to me and all of us here at T-Minus. [music] Our guest today is Dr. Brian Fluwelling, Director of Strategic Program Development at XO Analytic. Dr. Fluwelling wanted to discuss moving beyond space domain awareness to space domain understanding, and I started by asking him to explain that transition. So we talk about space domain understanding, and we also use a term called space sense-making. And I put that into some writing too. And sense-making is a term that we might use in business analytics if you might hear about it in a lot of other processes, kind of with the goal of automating that. And then space domain understanding kind of derives from there. In the early days of computer vision, a lot of what the mathematics applied to imagery were drawing in toward what they would call image understanding. So not just can I recognize a target in some location in a picture or in an image, but can I decide how large that object is? Can I decide how far it moves with respect to it? Can I decide that it's rotated a certain amount? And all of these little things that you might use imagery to do fell historically under this term of image understanding. Instead of just having the data, but driving toward all of the other questions you might actually have as a human when you're presented with that image, you may want to know all of these different things. How do you tell a computer to deduce answers to all of those questions when only presented with that image? I mean, amazing what the human visual system could do in terms of deriving that understanding. How do you automate that? How do you build algorithms done when presented with that stimulus? Come away with that same kind of understanding. And this also comes from quotes from several Space Force generals, General Shaw and others come to mind, although I won't try to quote them in real time as to which one was driving toward the need for this evolution towards space understanding. But it's not enough to say I see that space object. It may not be enough to say I know who it is, what which space object it is. But I understand its orbit. I understand if it's maneuvered recently. But there's a lot more questions than an operational decision maker may have. Right? What are the goals of that organization? Is that a threat to me? Are there reasons why I should be concerned that one spacecraft is closer than it usually is to my spacecraft? What do I need to know from other modalities of measurement, perhaps, to know what that space system may be capable of? And therefore, if that were applied toward understanding my space system, is that putting up some sort of vulnerability that could be from cyber, that could be from just RF in general, that could be I have a certain payload on board, and I'd really like people not to take pictures of it because it's my first generation and etc. When we admit that we're moving from space domain awareness or situational awareness, that the goal is no understanding, the first underlying thing is that we have many more questions than what are this position and velocity of that spacecraft right now. And how do you make that discernment quickly too? I mean, a human can make that decision, but when you're talking about automating, and I know you're getting to it, I apologize. But the speed of that decision also is just, I imagine, would be kind of a challenge given the speeds at which things are moving. Well, there's a couple different things. There are algorithms, for example, if you want to determine the attitude of your spacecraft, or if you want to determine the orbit of another spacecraft, we might talk about things like a warm start in that you have a pretty good idea, what orientation your spacecraft is in, where you might have a pretty good idea of what orbit some other spacecraft is in. And now the algorithm is to refine and get a more precise estimate as to what it actually is. Then there are analogs to say what we might call lost in space solutions, where I have no idea where I'm pointing, and I need to use the stars, I mean, use every other tool in my bag to get just an estimate of those parameters. The lost in space variants of those algorithms have to search through a much larger potential set of answers. And so when you ask about how quickly, also how precisely can I know these things, part of it is what algorithms are applying. The other thing for us is when you're training to understand changes of satellites, or ships in a harbor, or anything else, making sure they don't accidentally bump into each other, you just got to check it on into a once in a while. You don't need to understand precisely why they made every turn they did as each wave changed through the harbor or as it moved through orbit. You just need to go, hey, if I take their velocity vectors in what they currently are, and I propagate them forward, do I get worried that anybody gets close at what's that schedule? And on that schedule, I make sure to monitor those space objects so that I could provide warnings that, hey, you might get close, and therefore you might need to adjust your planning and your guidance to account for each other, or for debris, or whatever might be a hazard. When you add in the fact that one of those spacecrafts may intend to do you harm, you have to do that thought process a little bit differently. What is the capacity to maneuver and get close to me if they wanted to? Maybe they don't at this time, but as that shifts, I have to be thinking about that. It also drives you to watch more Oscar, right? If somebody on the highway is driving drunk, you're not careful about how you decide to finally get in the left lane and go around that. You drive differently than you would if you assume everybody was following the norms of behavior on the run. So if you said, okay, I want to now do that with autonomous driving cars, you feel much better that those vehicles are taking much more sensor data than they may need. You don't want the minimum amount of sensor data. You want a maximum amount of information coming in so that you can ensure that additional safety in that potentially dangerous process. So it's going to be the same thing. When we monitor space objects, and our goal is space object understanding, I have so many more questions about how am I going to safely navigate my spacecraft in the presence of all of these additional variables, and the way you deal with that additional uncertainty is more data. So really give data points for that. In 2018, Space Policy Directive 3 was published out of the White House. It's since then the Department of Commerce, Office of Space Commerce has been working on implementing their tracks program for civil space traffic coordination. But in 2018, less than 1% of the space traffic that we could track was considered believable. Yeah, yep. That has changed a lot. Yeah, it meant that ponderance of objects you could predict were just drifting with drag or physics or whatever you, and they would not be one of those objects that would suddenly be realized. Right? Today, there are more than 6,000 believable space objects. So that takes that ratio or that fraction of trackable space objects that aren't actually believable up to more than 10% of the so it's kind of at least an order of magnitude. And in the years to come, there's not many these mega constellations that are planned, not just domestically, but internationally, when there realize hundreds of thousands of spacecraft that will be the new world. Which now potentially the majority of space objects will be renewable, that perhaps in a non-coordinated fashion. So how do you inform all of those space objects that need to safely navigate with each other? Was just asking that question in my head, how on earth do you do that? How do you coordinate all that? Yeah. And so there are cooperative protocols where people or systems should communicate their intent to maneuver, and they communicate what their local site picture is, and their understanding they may subscribe to a service or a decentralized service that tells them, you know, these are where space objects are in our catalog or have you, and then they make the best decisions they can. There is also non-cooperative, it's not commonly to be expected, at least in the New York term, that every space actor will be on some common coordinating platform. We haven't achieved that today after 30 plus years of maneuvering this way. It would be great as a utopia point to strive to get to, the guy requires all space actors to decide to cooperate that way. Yeah, and in good faith too, yes. Right, so in the absence of that, achieving that kind of utopia, data is your friend, and you can't be able to say it quickly, can't I observe these things often enough to derive a precise post-maneuver state as fast as the command and control decisions are occurring, right? Fast as all of these objects are maneuvering or turning on the highway, am I giving you new data that says this is what they're now doing? So there is always a race between what those systems, when they turn the wheel the next time, and what your nav understands what they're doing next. We'll be right back. Welcome back. If you've read Ashley Vance's book, When the Heavens Went on Sale, all about commercial space companies, and found that you couldn't get enough of the behind-the-scenes peaks at how they all operate, you will absolutely want to keep an eye out for the new HBO documentary that was inspired by that book. That documentary is called Wild Wild Space, because, you know, the new space era we're in is the Wild West, we've all heard it said, and this film focuses on Rocket Lab and Astrospace, as well as Planet Labs and several other space companies, and of course, the founders driving these companies like Peter Beck and Chris Kemp. Sorry everybody, no Elon or SpaceX in this one. Looking at the documentary's trailer, which just dropped yesterday, this film has all the making of a prestige documentary, you know, the highest of high stakes, complex geopolitics, billions of dollars in the mix, compelling personalities, slick production values, very HBO. If you are a regular listener of T-minus, the documentary's thesis on the importance of space and the sheer amount of money in the space industry will not come as a surprise to you, but it should still make for a fascinating watch-eyed wager. July 17th is when Wild Wild Space drops on HBO, and that is next Wednesday, by the way. I will certainly be watching. That's it for T-minus for July 9th, 2024, brought to you by N2K Cyberwire. For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes at space.n2k.com. We're privileged that N2K and 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 produced by Alice Carruth, our associate producer is Liz Stokes. We are mixed by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester with original music by Elliot Peltzman. Our executive producer is Jennifer Iban. Our executive editor is Brandon Karp. Simone Petrella is our president. Peter Kilpie is our publisher. And I'm your host, Maria Varmausis. Thanks for listening. We'll see you tomorrow. T-minus. [BLANK_AUDIO]

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