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The Ariane countdown.

Last flight for Ariane 5. Space Forge designs reusable heat shield. Israel’s moon mission on hold. EAGLE-1 gets a quantum key distribution payload. And more.





The final Ariane 5 flight is scheduled for no earlier than June 16. Axiom Space's Ax-2 mission to the ISS faces a narrow launch window. Space Forge says that they have designed a reusable reentry system. China calls for proposals for a low-cost transportation system to deliver cargo to and from the Tiangong space station, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest for today’s episode is Brendan Rosseau, Teaching Fellow at Harvard Business School. Brendan discusses the growing demand for space business development courses.

You can follow Brendan on Linkedin and learn more about Harvard Business School on their website.

Selected Reading

Arianespace Sets June 16 Date for Final Ariane 5 Mission- Via Satellite

UK’s Space Forge debuts new reentry tech for in-space manufacturing satellites- TechCrunch

China calls for space station commercial cargo proposals- SpaceNews

Israeli Beresheet 2 Moon mission in jeopardy after losing biggest donors- Jerusalem Post

Tesat to Build Quantum Key Payload for SES Eagle-1 Mission- Via Satellite

Space Force's Top General Blasts Service's Mission Statement as 'Long and Cumbersome'- Military.com

Space Force general: ‘No pushback’ from Congress on 2024 budget priorities- SpaceNews

Biden administration may halt plans to move Space Command to Alabama over state's abortion law, officials say- NBC

NASA Aims to Boost In Space Production Applications- NASA

SpaceX has narrow window for Ax-2 launch - SpaceNews

Resonate Testing Joins Harwell Space Cluster- Resonate

A private company has an audacious plan to rescue NASA’s last “Great Observatory”- Ars Technica  

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>> Maria Varmazis: All good things must come to an end, and the Ariane 5 has its final mission date set. June 16th will be the last flight for Arianespace's heavy-lift launch vehicle. And with the Ariane 5's imminent exit, the clock is really ticking for the Ariane 6, which is expected at the earliest later this year. Although, realistically, it's probably going to be later than that.

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Today is May 16, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis, and this is T-Minus. It's the last flight for the Ariane 5. Space Forge announces its reusable reentry system. Israel's moon mission is on hold. SES and Tesat are working on a quantum key distribution payload. And my conversation with Brendan Rosseau, teaching fellow at Harvard Business School, on new courses available for space business development. Stay with us. Now, let's take a look at your intel briefing for today. One could say it's the final countdown for this European rocket. Arianespace's Ariane 5 will have its final flight, scheduled no earlier than June 16th. It'll be launching two satellites: the Syracuse 4B, for France, and the Heinrich-Hertz-Mission, for Germany. This last flight will mark 116 launches in all for the Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket. And the sunsetting of the Ariane 5 raises the question: When will the Ariane 6 be up and running and ready to launch? While the official latest estimate from Arianespace and ESA is that the Ariane 6 will be ready to launch at the end of the year, with the full launch vehicle assembly targeted in November, suppliers to Arianespace are giving a slightly different picture. Saying that key milestones are already behind target dates. All the usual suspects -- pandemic-related supply chain issues, disruption due to the war in Ukraine -- have all caused these timelines to slip. So more realistically, we're probably looking at 2024 for an Ariane 6 launch, though no official word on that yet. That all means that with Ariane 5 retiring this summer, and at least, at least, a six-month wait until Ariane 6 is ready for its maiden flight, there's quite a gap in Europe's access to its own home-grown heavy-lift rocket. When it's ready, even though it'll be expendable, launch costs on the Ariane 6 will be cheaper than its outgoing predecessor, with $175 million per launch for the Ariane 5 versus potentially 77 to 126 million for the new Ariane 6. And overall, the turnaround time is expected to be faster, allowing for more Ariane 6 launches per year than the Ariane 5 allowed. Now, already, the slip in timing for the Ariane 6 has caused issues for launch customers. And we reported not that long ago that ViaSat -- which had originally slated one of its new ViaSat-3 Internet satellites to launch on an Ariane 6 -- it's now looking for new launch provider to give its new satellite a lift to GEO. And speaking of launches, SpaceNews reports that Axiom Space's Ax-2 mission to the ISS -- which will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 with a Crew Dragon -- has a pretty narrow launch window. Just two opportunities to get it done: May 21 and May 22. And if the launch can't happen in either of those windows, it'll be months before Axiom Space and SpaceX can try again. And the reason's pretty simple: resource availability. Crew Dragon can't just launch from anywhere, it has to launch from famous launch complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. And as we've covered on the show before, Pad 39 is busy, busy, busy. A very full slate of launches over the next few months specifically, including several Falcon Heavy launches. Plus, the ISS itself is expecting several guests over the next few months as well, including the much awaited first crew test for Boeing Starliner. So here's hoping for good weather and no scrubs for Ax-2's launch attempts. Wales satellite manufacturing company Space Forge says that they have designed a reusable reentry system which will enable low-cost and reliable return of satellites to Earth. The reusable system, which claims to be a better alternative to the ablative heat shields which require replacement after every flight, uses a high temperature alloy that's large enough to radiate away the heat of reentry without burning the material. Space Forge says their Pridwen heat shield will be incorporated into the company's in-space manufacturing satellite platform, called ForgeStar. Space Forge's satellite launcher meets TBD after their first try failed to make orbit from Virgin Orbit's attempt from Spaceport Cornwall in January. And do you have a vehicle that's able to transport cargo to a space station for less than $17.2 million per 1,000 kilograms delivered? Then China needs you. China's Manned Space Engineering Office is looking for proposals for a low-cost transportation system to deliver cargo to and from the Tiangong space station. The Tianzhou rocket is currently being used by China to resupply the outpost every eight months. But China is looking to create a similar system to NASA's Commercial Resupply program to help lower the cost per mission. Not surprising that they want to save a buck in the current economic climate. Now, was anybody else wondering what happened to the tardigrades on the Moon? And are the Israelis planning on returning to save them? Well, it seems Israel's lunar aspirations are facing setbacks. SpaceIL has announced that funding has been withdrawn for the Beresheet 2 Moon mission. Investors have said other philanthropic projects need their resources and time. Now, the Beresheet 2 mission is Israel's long-awaited second attempt at landing a spacecraft on the Moon. The first attempt in 2019 was a demonstrator of a small robotic lunar lander and lunar probe, operated by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, which resulted in the lander hard landing (crashing) on the Moon, with the tardigrades on board. The space bears could not be reached for comment, but they're probably fine. SES and Tesat are partnering to develop a quantum key distribution (or QKD) payload for Europe's satellite system, the Eagle-1. German company Tesat-Spacecom will manufacture the QKD payload to establish a secure optical link from space to ground. It will also manufacture the QKD module of the satellite. Now, Eagle-1 is supported by ESA and the European Commission, and it aims to deliver secure transmission of encryption keys across geographically dispersed areas. The satellite is due to quantum leap, I mean, launch next year. Military.com claims to have obtained a copy of a memo by Space Force's General Salzman, detailing his frustration with the branch's mission statement. The memo, which reportedly went out to all Space Force guardians this week, states that Salzman believes that Space Force's mission statement does not reflect why the US has a space force and the vital functions that guardians perform. General Salzman went further to ask servicemembers to debate a new mission statement and email officials with suggestions for a rewrite. I don't know about you, but this has all the drama of a new Marvel sequel to me. And despite internal woes at Space Force, Congress has shown growing support for the military branch. General Thompson, vice chief of Space Operations, says that Space Force's 2024 budget requests have been overall well received in Washington. The DoD has requested $30 billion for space operations in the coming fiscal year, to include plans for a large constellation in LEO. The largest headache for the Space Force seems to be coming from deciding on a location for Space Command. Now, it's been two years since the Trump administration's decision to move Space Command's headquarters from Colorado to Huntsville, Alabama. And Biden's administration is continuing to delay the move. Reports claim that the White House is considering a move back to Colorado due to concerns over Alabama's recent changes to the state's abortion laws. NASA's In Space Production Applications program -- which is known as InSPA -- is calling for US industry to develop advanced materials and products in space that could benefit life on Earth. White papers are due by June 23rd. And you can read about the program and much more at the "selected reading" section on our website, space.n2K.com. And this concludes our intel briefing for today, but stay with us for my conversation with Brendan Rosseau, teaching fellow at Harvard Business School, on new courses available for space business development. And so T-Minus, our audience is growing pretty rapidly, and that's a big thanks to you. So if you're just joining us, well, hello and welcome. And be sure to follow T-Minus Space Daily in your favorite podcast app. And also, if you find our show helpful and enjoyable, 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. Come along and say hi, at space.n2K.com. Getting a steady pipeline of new aerospace employees into the workforce is a frequent area of discussion and interest on this show, and certainly it's a hot topic at conferences and in board rooms everywhere. It's a challenge that requires attention in a lot of different ways. And one approach is to help students at the graduate and undergraduate levels aware of and versed in the many different career paths in the space industry that are available to them. Now, while T-Minus is indeed a global show, I personally happen to live in a place that has a proud academic culture. So for today's interview, it just so happens that I got to check in with an educator at a university right in my neighborhood to see what kind of curriculum they're developing to train the aerospace professionals of tomorrow.

>> Brendan Rousseau: Hi. My name is Brendan Rousseau. I'm a teaching fellow and research associate at Harvard Business School, and I work on the economics of space.

>> Maria Varmazis: So Harvard Business School is getting into the business of space. Why?

>> Brendan Rousseau: Absolutely. So as most of your listeners will know, space, you know, has had some remarkable transition from being, you know, what in the '50s and '60s and pretty much for most of our country's history was a top-down centrally-controlled enterprise, to one in which the commercial sector's increasingly playing an important role, and the way we see it, a driving role in the future of not only our country's space future but the future of humanity in space, and opening up all kinds of new opportunities. And so at Harvard Business School, we have done a lot of thinking about economic frameworks, how to understand what's going on in this economy, how to make sense of it, how to operate in it. And we've created some classes around that. And we couldn't be more excited to be thinking critically and hopefully training in the next generation's space leaders.

>> Maria Varmazis: I'm so curious to hear about the talent pipeline that you're seeing. So what's the interest been like so far?

>> Brendan Rousseau: It's been fantastic. So we started our exploration into space around 2016 using case studies. You know, HBS, like law schools, uses the case method. So just kind of examining different aspects of the space industry one by one for different companies. And then we've built it up into a point now where we've got a whole class where we examine all kinds of different aspects of the space economy, from space financing to strategies to bigger picture things like vertical integration, all kinds of things. And so we kicked off the class last year. It was very much an experiment. We had a great set of space enthusiastic MBAs, as well as some aero astro PhDs from MIT, which we're very fortunate to have, and folks from around the Boston/Cambridge area. So we had some people from the Harvard Kennedy School as well. And this year, it's just gotten bigger and better. We've been so encouraged to see that interest in space across the Boston area schools is really on the rise. We were oversubscribed for the class this year, which is fantastic. And, unfortunately, we had so many people apply to be cross registrants from MIT and the Harvard Kennedy School and other places, that we couldn't let them all in. Which really broke my heart. I wish we could let everyone in. But we're fortunate to have really high-quality students who we think are going to go out and make a big impact in the world.

>> Maria Varmazis: What a great problem to have. And a good sign about the interest in the space economy and space industry. What are you hearing from your students, like anything surprising about what they're interested in or problems they're looking to solve when they get out there?

>> Brendan Rousseau: Oh, yeah, absolutely. So one thing that's been fantastic to see is that -- a lot of our students come from very technical backgrounds. They're aerospace engineers or they're engineers of some kind, and they love solving technical problems. But I think they increasingly have realized that, in this economy now and this space industry, it's no longer enough to just have the best technical skills. Obviously, you need to have a solid understanding of the technology as a starting point, but one of the key factors that's shaping the world of space today is business plans -- how do you create a product that is going to resonate with customers and that's going to drive revenue such that you can accomplish your business goals? Because without that, you know, your technology is not going to have the impact that you want it to have. And if you don't have customers, you don't have a sustainable business. So one thing that's been super encouraging to see, the interest in the business side, a greater desire for understanding of how not only to make really interesting space technologies, but make good and impactful space businesses, and peeking below the layers to see what the top space companies today have done to make the impact that they've been able to achieve.

>> Maria Varmazis: That's great. In terms of what the students and actually what the class is looking at, are there specific topic areas or developments in the space industry that are especially sort of gaining traction or are especially interesting to people?

>> Brendan Rousseau: Sure. That's a great question. I'd say the thing that resonates the most with students that we've seen is having some kind of framework that you can use to understand how this sector has developed. One [inaudible] that we've seen that's consistent with a lot of people who are excited about the industry is that there is a ton of excitement around the space economy today. There's a lot of hype. But there's not a ton of kind of deeper level understanding of why things are the way that they are, or really peeking below the surface to do a rigorous analysis of how to make sense of everything that's going on. So one of the tools that we've seen be very helpful for our students that guides how we think about the development of the space economy is just, let's create, you know, a framework for understanding what's going on. So the framework that we use is three steps. It's decentralize the market. So how do you create a market where one did not exist through greater decentralization of government effort? So that's step one is decentralization. Step two is refining. So as you -- refining the market. So as you create markets where they did not exist, you're inevitably going to be also creating market failure. So externalities is a great example of that. Like orbital debris and all these other loss of value to society by not having complementary skills and coordination. And so there's a lot of kind of structuring you need to do to make sure that your reaping the greatest social benefit as you create these markets. And then the last one is tempering the market. So even if you create a very strong market and you address a lot of the market failures in space, there's no guarantee that the market that you created is going to be in line with society's moral and ethical judgments. And so you need to make sure that, as you're building a strong and sustainable space economy, that it is in line with and helping achieve society's broader goals. Because, otherwise, you know, that's not a world that anyone wants to live in.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, right.

>> Brendan Rousseau: Yeah, exactly. That's how we think about space. That's the framework we use.

>> Maria Varmazis: When you think about existing space companies right now, maybe who were technology first and maybe didn't think about larger business strategy, any advice there for, you know, forming that business strategy about being smart in space, for lack of better term?

>> Brendan Rousseau: Sure. Well, I mean, first of all, I love to say that we're here to learn and help, through case studies and other things, provide lessons for the next generation. So, number one, before trying to tell anyone anything, we love to just learn from people's experiences. So if you feel like you've got lessons to share with the next generation, get in touch with us. We'd love to hear about it. But one thing that we've seen a lot recently is, you know, everyone wants to be in the launch game. Everyone wants to develop their own rocket. And, you know, we've seen a lot of different people come to the table with different ideas or tweaks of a rocket design that they think is going to make them more attractive. And that in and of itself will close a business case. At last count, I think there were 130-some rocket startups. Although that might've dipped somewhat now. That, for me, is an example of one of the problems that we have. You know, launch is a really unique industry. No one really makes money on launch. And it's really oversaturated right now with companies, especially, with small launch segments. So one thing that I would love to see is instead of everyone trying to build their own launch company, because it's sexy to build a new rocket and launch it, is people looking at the entire supply chain of what it takes to build satellites and put objects up in space that are generating value and attack problems in that value chain that are really necessary if we're going to have an increasingly specialized and refined space economy. I've been thrilled to see a lot of the people who I consider to be really innovative and forward thinkers in the space economy attacking just those problems. So there's a company called Apex Space that's really diving into the problem of building satellite buses that are more efficient. We've been lucky to also have, you know, graduates from our program dive in and help create, you know, their own startups that's aimed at helping make designing and engineering and building satellites of all kind easier and cheaper and faster. And so that's, for me, seeing that increasing specialization and really refining each part of the process is fantastic, because everyone's going to reap the benefits from that.

>> Maria Varmazis: Brendan, thank you so much for walking us through this and for telling us about the really cool courses happening.

>> Brendan Rousseau: Fantastic. Well, thank you, Maria.

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And we'll be right back. And welcome back. Now, I love space telescopes. And I thought I'd bring one back that you probably haven't heard in a little while, Spitzer. Yes, the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in 2003. And it's number four of four of the NASA great observatories of the '90s and early 2000's. And those would be the Hubble, the Compton, the Chandra, and the spitzer. Now, Hubble and Chandra are still kicking. The Compton was deorbited in 2000. And the Spitzer, after 16 years of service, sadly moved too far away from Earth relative to the Sun for direct Earth communications -- two AU's for those keeping track at home. So since 2020, even though it's still technically usable in some form, Spitzer has essentially become dead to Earth. NASA asked it to put itself into sleep mode. And so it is now adrift on the other side of the Sun from us and we just can't reach it. But now there's a plan afoot to bring Spitzer back to life. Yes, a small startup called Rhea Space Activity just won a 250K phase 1 grant from SpaceWERX to figure out a robotic rescue mission for Spitzer. And although the mission name Spitzer Resurrector sounds a bit outlandish, the method to this madness is nothing crazy at all. It's mission extension via satellite, aka ISAM -- something many T-Minus listeners are already well aware of. So instead of sending a small sat out to give a boost to a giant satellite in GEO, Rhea Space is proposing sending a small craft out, a mere 186 million miles, to get real close to Spitzer. It wouldn't be grabbing on, but the Spitzer Resurrector would get within about 100 kilometers of Spitzer, nudge it awake, and then function as a go-between Earth and Spitzer. Yes, a communications relay, bridging the gap that caused NASA to bring Spitzer's mission to an end back in 2020. With the Resurrector in place, Spitzer would then be able to get back to some level of work -- some astronomical observations and even detecting potentially hazardous near Earth objects. Something that NASA and the White House are both very keen on doing. And if Rhea Space gets the funding that it needs -- and it estimates it needs about 350 million to do this -- it says it could get its 1 meter by 1 meter sized Spitzer Resurrector launched by 2026. And if that all happens, and if Spitzer is still in good enough shape to be resurrectable -- if that's a word -- this will be a really great win for astro sciences and a heck of an ICM demonstration. But if this plan falls through, I suppose we could just wait and see how Spitzer's doing when Earth's orbit catches up to it in 2051. And that's it for T-Minus for May 16, 2023. For additional resources from today's report, check out our show notes at space.educate.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, mixing by Elliott Peltzman and Tre 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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