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Europe is SO back in the launch business.

Ariane 6 launches but experiences an anomaly. NATO looks to space to safeguard the internet. NASA and Boeing provide updates on the Starliner. And more.




Europe returns to autonomous access to space with the successful launch of the Ariane 6 heavy-lift rocket. NATO  says it is helping finance a project to use space as an alternative to subsea cables shuttling civilian and military communications across European waters. NASA and Boeing cannot confirm when Starliner will return to Earth, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Aerospace Engineer Jill Meyers.

You can connect with Jill on LinkedIn and learn more about her work on her website.

Selected Reading

ESA - Europe's new Ariane 6 rocket powers into space

ESA - Ariane 6 launches SIDLOC: opening up tools for safer space

Exolaunch Successfully Deploys Satellites on Historic Ariane 6 Inaugural Launch, Enhancing European Access to Space- Business Wire

NATO Backs Effort to Reroute Internet to Space in Event of Subsea Attacks - Bloomberg

Max Polyakov and Noosphere released by U.S. from restrictions imposed before Russian invasion of Ukraine

Science Committee Leaders Release Bipartisan Legislation to Reauthorize NASA

SpaceX rolls Starship Super Heavy booster to launch pad ahead of 5th test flight (video, photos)

Aerospacelab selected by MDA SPACE as part of MDA AURORA™ supply chain

Virgin Galactic Completes New Spaceship Manufacturing Facility in Arizona

Sidus Space Appoints former L3Harris Chief Human Resources Officer, Jeffrey Shuman, to its Board of Directors | Business Wire

Fleet Space's ExoSphere Enhances Barrick Gold's Data-Driven Copper Exploration at Reko Diq

Scotland’s First Satellite; The Project That Revolutionised The Scottish Space Sector

NASA Invites Media to 65th Birthday Celebration for Iconic Logo 

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We left you hanging in yesterday's episode about the status of the Ariane 6 launch. So how did it go? Well I'll let this audio do the talking for me. [Speaking French] [Speaking French] [Speaking French] [Speaking French] Today is July 10th, 2024. I'm Maria Vermazes and this is T-minus. [Music] Ariane 6 launches and experiences a late-stage anomaly. NATO looks to space to safeguard the internet. NASA and Boeing provide updates on the Starliner. And joining us today is aerospace engineer Jill Myers, who will be sharing her views on why mentoring in the space industry is vital for the future workforce. Stay with us for that awesome chat. [Music] Here is your Intel briefing for this Wednesday. Europe has its own ride to space again. With the successful launch of the Ariane 6 heavy lift rocket yesterday, Europe now has its autonomous access to space, ending the year-long gap since the Ariane 5's retirement. This means governmental launches in Europe no longer need to look to the commercial space sector abroad, like the SpaceX Falcon 9, for their missions. The very first launch of Ariane space's Ariane 6 rocket happened right on time at 3pm Eastern yesterday, carrying its satellites and demo payloads into two different orbits. It was a near-perfect mission. While the launch itself was flawless, there was an anomaly on the Ariane 6 upper stage, late in the mission. The upper stage is powered by the new Vinci engine, which is designed to be restarted in space. And those refires of the engine would allow that upper stage to insert payloads into different orbits. Very cool. The Vinci engine did successfully restart twice during this mission, which is great news for Ariane space and ESA. Though the third expected refire, which would put the upper stage into a controlled re-entry, did not. As a result, two tech demos remained on board and were not released into orbit, and the upper stage will, unfortunately, join many other rocket upper stages in orbit as space debris. While it's not fun for an inaugural launch to end in an anomaly, all in all, ESA is very pleased with how this launch went. And the first commercial mission for the Ariane 6 is expected later this year, and ESA has said in the past that their goal is to have up to 12 launches of this rocket yearly. Leaders from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, known as NATO, are meeting in Washington, D.C. this week, and space is high on the agenda. The organization says it's helping finance a project to use space as an alternative to subsea cables shuttling civilian and military communications across European waters. Researchers from the United States, Iceland, Sweden, and Switzerland are collaborating to develop a system that can seamlessly re-root internet traffic from compromised subsea cables to satellite systems in case of sabotage or natural disasters. NATO has allocated up to 400,000 euros, which is about $433,000, towards the $2.5 million project, with additional support coming from research institutions, all of this according to documents cited by Bloomberg. And in a tale of, "Oops, we shouldn't have done that," the U.S. government has released Dr. Max Polyakov and his related companies from all conditions imposed upon them in the run-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Let's take a wee trip back in time to explain this story. In 2022, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, along with the U.S. Department of the Air Force, required Neuosphere Venture Partners and Polyakov to divest all of their ownership in Firefly Aerospace. Polyakov had invested over $200 million into the Texas-based rocket manufacturing company, and at the time, the government decided that Neuosphere's ownership of Firefly constituted a potential national security threat. For his part, Polyakov strongly disputed that he or his companies posed any threat to U.S. national security, but he still complied with a divestiture order to eliminate the government's concerns and preserve Firefly. In a May 31, 2024 letter to Neuosphere, the U.S. Treasury Department confirmed that the company and Polyakov are released from all conditions and obligations that the U.S. government imposed on February 28, 2022. Get all that? We do hope that the letter also came with an apology. NASA held multiple media conferences today to provide an update on the Starliner crewed mission. They were not able to provide a specific timing update on a Starliner return, but they reassured everyone that the astronauts are okay to go in case of an emergency. Sonny Williams and Butch Wilmore also spoke to the media from the International Space Station. The veteran astronauts reassured the media that testing is ongoing on both the capsule and on the ground at White Sands in New Mexico to learn more about the thrusters that have been a cause for concern. Sonny reminded all participants this. We still had a lot of checks for Starliner, and those all went really well. One of them was practicing for Safe Haven to make sure that we had all the emergency equipment that's laid out that we need to have to get into our spacecraft and use it as a Safe Haven in case something happens to the International Space Station. There was also another, a couple other tests with habitability to make sure that the spacecraft is ready to support four people. We grabbed a couple ISS crew members to come in there with us and go through all of the actions and as well as checked out the EECLIS, the Environmental Control System, pretty thoroughly throughout all these tests. And it really worked very well. So we are really satisfied with putting more people in the spacecraft once we get back and we work through all the issues that we've found already. I'll just reiterate again, this is a test flight. We were expecting to find some things. The U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee, along with the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, released legislation to reauthorize the U.S. Space Agency for the upcoming fiscal year. Although the committed funding numbers have been known since subcommittee markup last month, the subcommittee's report shares more details on spending priorities. Despite cutting NASA below the president's request, the subcommittee directs the U.S. Space Agency to spend more on certain programs, most notably the Mars sample return program. The bill would formally authorize $25.225 billion in funding for NASA in fiscal year 2025. The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking public input on a revised draft environmental assessment as part of the Commercial Space Transportation License Application Review Process for operations of the Sierra Space Dream Chaser Reentry Vehicle. The revised draft EA evaluates the potential environmental impacts associated with reentry and landing of the Dream Chaser at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida and at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Comments must be submitted by August 9th. All eyes are on Boca Chica yet again at the moment as SpaceX gears up for the fifth launch of the Starship. The super heavy first stage booster has been rolled out to the launch pad ahead of the next flight, which is expected in the coming weeks. We will be sure to let you know as soon as a date has been set. Aerospace Lab has been selected as part of the supply chain for MDA Space's digital satellite manufacturing. Aerospace Lab will provide battery charge regulators for the MDA Aurora constellation. The company will deliver more than 200 units over three years, with the first deliveries to MDA Space scheduled by 2026. Virgin Galactic says it has completed its new manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Arizona. The space tourism company plans to assemble its next generation Delta spaceships at the facility starting in Q1 2025. Virgin Galactic technical operations and manufacturing personnel have begun preparing the facility to receive and install tooling, which is expected to arrive in Q4 of this year. And that concludes our briefing for today. What a packed day, huh? Head to the selected reading section of our show notes to find links to all of our sources and further information on all the stories that we've mentioned. You will also find announcements there from side to space and fleet space, as well as a piece on the anniversary of Scotland's first satellite. AT-Mindus 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-Mindus Crew. Thank you so much for your support, everybody. We really appreciate it. [Music] Today's guest is Jill Myers. Jill is an aerospace engineer, business leader, stem advocate, and speaker. She provides independent aviation and aerospace management consulting services under her company, Arrow Edge Consulting. And she spoke to me about the importance of mentoring the future workforce of space. My whole theme of mentoring and public speaking and everything is all about the lack of balance in aviation and aerospace. And I was a perfect example. So here I was 17 with a pilot license. With extremely high grades in school, no one in my high school or in my flight school ever said, "Well, would you like to be a professional pilot and let's help you?" And at the time, I was the only female student in the entire state of Arizona getting a pilot's license. Oh, man. It's not fun being those firsts. It's really not. It's not. So I ended up not becoming a professional pilot and joined the Air Force because I was enamored with things that fly. And I thought, "You know, I can at least be around airplanes." I literally walked into the recruiting office with my pilot's license in my hand and they said, "Oh, yeah, but you're a girl. We don't do that." Which at the time, they did, and I was about two years too early. So joined anyway, spent eight years in the US Air Force being around airplanes, having really amazing, amazing jobs. And then the education office asked me one day to apply for a really unique program where I was active duty, Air Force still got paid, but went back to college full-time to finish my degree. So around that time, the space shuttle went up for the first time and I was just like, "Oh, maybe I can be an astronaut." So I ended up getting my degree in Astronautical Engineering as opposed to aeronautical. So things that fly above the Earth's atmosphere technically. And spent the next, I don't know how many decades, as an aerospace engineer. What's interesting about my career and one of the things that gives me good background to be a mentor to a lot of different people is that I've worked at the big companies like Raytheon. And I've worked for several aviation startups, like the pure, "Let's do something crazy" startup companies. And then a couple places that are mid-sized. So I've done commercial platforms. I've done military. I've done small company, big company, been an engineer, been a program manager, been a director of operations. So it gives me a really wide range of experiences to draw from, to guide people in different directions, which I do a lot when I'm mentoring. So it's been really cool. Jill, thank you so much for walking me through a very high-level overview of your career. I really wanted to hear more about your takes on mentoring, because it came up a couple times about how you've had these different kinds of roles. You've had your struggles, certainly. And it does give you an incredible perspective. And people who have been through things similar to what you've been through don't always want to give back. You're very passionate about mentoring. Please tell me the why behind that. The why is because I honestly can say I didn't have any mentors until I was really far into my career. And some things could have gone better for me had I had guidance. My career would have been, I think it's fair to say, very different had I had a mentor early on. And so the main reason I do it is I really don't want other, especially young women, to have to struggle with the things I struggled with. And if I can take the challenges I faced and share how I got through them with others, which is really the main thing, and just to give generic career advice, that's just so important to me. And the second reason I do it is because in aviation and aerospace, the percentages of women are still so embarrassingly low. The percentage of licensed pilots in the world that are women is currently just under 6%. And what's really shocking is if you do the research, the percentage of female pilots in the 1960s was 4%. Oh, big progress. Wow, 2%. Six. Yeah. Oh my God. And the number of aerospace engineers were at about 13, 13 to 14%, which is by the way a lot better than when I was in college, way back in the day. And air traffic controllers are 16%, I think. And then the worst of them, aircraft mechanics, aircraft maintenance is 2%. And it used to be 3%. So what's really horrifying, though, isn't just the percentages, it's the lack of progress. The Department of Transportation and the FAA were actually given an assignment by Congress, I think it was in 2020, to put together a task force. It was called the Women in Aviation Advisory Board. And they picked, I think, 28 or 30 incredibly awesome women. I know to spend two years researching why are there not more women in the field and what can we do about it? The why of it came out for most of us to be, yeah, we already knew that. And the what to do about it is kind of, yeah, we've been asking for that already. But what I like about it is the fact that it was a congressionally mandated task force, the results that came out are also congressionally mandated. So there's a lot more pressure politically for companies to do things like try to help fund aviation training more, things like that. And I listened to a lot of their meetings because they were broadcast live. What shocked me the most is they did a final report, Maria, and they had a chart in this report that was a bar graph, a line graph. And it had on the Y-axis, if you will, it had all the different careers within aviation. And then at the bottom, they had by year, and it went through 15 years. So it was the percentage of women in all of these different career fields for the past 15 years. And I kid you not, almost everyone was a straight line. Zero progress. A couple went up like a couple of points, but there's just no movement. And so the reasons behind that, in my opinion, are many. One of the biggest things is it's very expensive to become a pilot, to become an engineer, whatever career field. Air traffic control also is an extremely taxing, very stressful job that a lot of people are afraid to go into. Yep. I have a friend who does that, and she is one of the most extraordinary people I've ever known, but it is an unbelievable job. And she's my local air traffic controller. So every time I fly from home, I'm like, thank you. That's great. I love that. So the mentoring is important because if I can help young women, and I do, in fact, I'm mentoring a young man right now, by the way, who's an absolute rock star, so I don't just do women. But to help people get through some of these barriers that is what causes these numbers to be low, whether it's how you're treated in the workplace, I've been told, no, you can't do that, you're a girl. I can't tell you how many times. To help women navigate through those real male dominated industry challenges, because I've seen a lot of it. And I've overall been pretty lucky. I mean, I've been in the workforce for 44 years now. And I can think of maybe three times when I was really, truly discriminated against. There were three pretty career changing events, but I know women who've had it worse than me. There are so many things on what you just said that I, my heart breaks because of, from sympathy and empathy, that you've had these experiences. So have I. And so have so many women. And I mean, every single woman I know who works in STEM or STEM adjacent fields or really anything has, and it's just like, yep. And it's, I have, I've interviewed a lot of women about women in aerospace, you know, not most, usually about their careers and what they've done, but sometimes it's about this topic about, you know, why, why is that number been steady? And, and, you know, I come from a computer science world and it's, it's a little better, but it's not that much better. It is a very, very multifaceted problem. And to me, there are a lot of practical considerations, but the cultural ones can be so hard to define. Sometimes they're not, sometimes it's really obvious, but other times it's so insidious. It's one of those like just drip by drip, I suppose, just people just get worn out is what I've often seen. Yeah. And what's, what's sad is that the problem we've had forever is helping get women into STEM fields. But a new problem is that we all do all this work to support women in the different male dominated STEM fields, you know, we help them with scholarships, we mentor them and all that. And now what's happening is they're getting into the workforce and then they're leaving because of how they're treated. So from some of the research I've done, that's a new ish problem and getting worse. So, you know, that's why I think mentoring is so critically important because if we can help support these women and/or men who are in aviation aerospace with these struggles, maybe we can help them get through it. And of course, the other side of it too, which is the hardest part is to do some kind of education of the male population to, you know, have them understand the sensitivities around what they're doing. I think for many young women in any career, but especially in STEM, we don't really have a good sense of what mentoring looks like. How does one go about getting a mentor? I'm sure you've encountered a lot of these misconceptions or hesitations. What do you tell people when they're just like, "Well, how do I get started with this?" That's a great question. There's so many different ways to have a mentoring partnership. You know, in the old days, like when I started in my career in aerospace in the 80s, the only kind of mentoring relationships that were talked about were formal mentoring relationships where you worked at a big company, you found someone in leadership that you admired, you set up an agreement, you met once a month, you had, you know, it was very formal. And I'd like to tell people that that's one way of mentoring, and that's not the only way. And, you know, I've successfully mentored people by just having one breakfast meeting with them or one coffee. I mean, it can just be one conversation that really lights the spark in someone to think about their career in a different way. So looking for a mentor, the first thing I always encourage people to do is to look to the membership organizations. So for example, Society Women Engineers is a great opportunity for women in engineering to find a mentor. Women in Aviation International, I've been a member of for over 20 years, I've run three different chapters. And for those that may be listening that don't know, Women in Aviation, wai.org, also covers women in aerospace. And then Women in Aerospace, which is a very different organization, much smaller than Wai, it's Wia, a little bit annoying. I think they started in the same year maybe and fought for the acronym. But so those kind of membership organizations, I think, are a great way to find a mentor. And then the second way is to look, if you're in a job, look to your workforce. If you're in school, there's folks in school. But one of the things I like to recommend to folks if they're looking for mentors in their company is I like to recommend that people look for a mentor who is not in their management chain. So like not your boss's boss. You don't want someone who is in the approval chain of your performance review. You want someone off that path that because you need to be able to have really open, honest communications, you need to be able to go to a mentor and say, my boss treats me badly or is unfair to me? Like what, you know, can you help me? Yes. Yep. And also not your CEO. That's a lot of people tend to go right for the CEO. Let's not do that. But you know, so the good about having someone in your company as a mentor is obviously they're going to understand your work world really well and vice versa. But I recommend that if people are looking for a mentor in their company to look across, you know, the leadership team and pick someone who's doing a job that you think you might want to do someday. You know, look for the person in the function that you align with that is like a fit for you and start out just by maybe approaching them and saying, you know, hey, I would love to talk to you more about what your job's like. That might be a career option for me in the future. You know, started that way. But you know, the to me, the best thing about mentoring is that you can talk to someone and you can just sit down and ask honest questions, you know, what's it really like to, you know, be in our traffic controller? You know, you can, you can search online all day long and Google everything. But to sit and talk to someone who's living it and doing it or maybe has in the past, you can really tell you honestly what it's like. There's really nothing like it. We will be right back. Welcome back. Hey, Cleveland Rocks. And if you are anywhere in the Cleveland area, what are your plans for next Monday, July 15th? Do you feel like celebrating a meatball? You know, I'm a worm fan, but I got to say it. The beloved classic round swoopy NASA logo, otherwise known as the meatball is turning 65 years young on the 15th. And NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland is throwing a party for the logo. Yes. And it's open to the public specifically at Glenn's Great Lakes Science Center. And yes, of course, there will be cake and there will be photo ops with astronauts, presentations by NASA creatives, giving the history and symbolism of this beloved logo. And there will even be a coloring contest, y'all. Coloring contest bust out those crayons. I want to see some shading and crosshatching people. So why is NASA Glenn holding the celebration? The meatball was designed by Cleveland Institute of Art graduate James Modarelli, who worked at NASA Glenn back when it was known as the Lewis Research Center in 1959. So now you know, that's a one spicy meatball. I'm sorry. That's it for T-minus for July 10th, 2024, brought to you by N2K Cyberwire. 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 this podcast. You can email us at space@n2k.com or submit the survey in the show notes. Your feedback ensures 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 are mixed by Elliott Peltzman and Trey Hester with original music by Elliott Peltzman. Our executive producer is Jennifer Iben. Our executive editor is Brandon Karp. Simone Petrella is our president. Peter Kilpie is our publisher. And I'm Maria Varmazes. Thanks for listening. We will see you tomorrow. Bye. [BLANK_AUDIO]

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