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Blue Moon lunar lander, brewed with real NASA orange peel.

Blue Moon, the lander! CAPSTONE hits milestones. SpiderOak gets more funding. A wooden satellite. The FCC denies Dish. India’s Space Policy. And more!





Blue Origin and Blue Moon. CAPSTONE achieves some milestones. SpiderOak gets another funding round. RPS in space is getting smaller. A wooden satellite! FCC denies Dish Network over Starlink. Axiom-2 mission is go for launch. And the Karman Project announces new fellows.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Namrata Goswami, Senior Analyst, for a deep dive about the India Space Policy 2023. This is only part of our conversation with Namrata. For the full interview, tune in to tomorrow’s episode of T-Minus Deep Space.

You can follow Namrata on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Selected Reading

Advanced Space successfully completes 6-month CAPSTONE primary mission at the Moon for NASA 

CNL aims to better protect Canadian astronauts through new project funded by the Canadian Space Agency 

Zeno Power gets $30 million to build radioisotope-powered satellite for U.S. military - SpaceNews

Wooden satellites? Japan proves magnolia has right stuff for space - Nikkei Asia

FCC rejects Dish 5G plan that could have made Starlink broadband “unusable” - Ars Technica

Investing in Space: Is SpaceX's Starlink growing satellite internet market share, or taking it? - CNBC 

Private Axiom-2 crew set for launch from Kennedy Space Center - Florida Today  

Meet the next cohort of leaders who are shaping the future of space - The Karman Project

Future space food could be made from astronaut breath - MIT Technology Review 

Space Business: Cost Plus - Quartz

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>> Maria Varmazis: It's Friday, and if you're inclined to imbibe a refreshing beer on a day like today, might I suggest something brewed with real Valencia orange peel, and also shares the name with the just announced from NASA, lunar lander for the Artemis V mission, it feels like a day for a Blue Moon, don't you think?

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Today is May 10th, 2023. Happy Friday. I'm Maria Varmazis, and this is T-Minus.

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Blue Moon, we see you standing with friends. Capstone hits some milestones. SpiderOak gets another funding round. RPS in space is getting smaller. A wooden satellite, yes you heard that right. And for our interview today, T-Minus Executive Producer, Brandon Karpf, speaks with Senior Analyst Namrata Goswami, about India's space policy and moves towards commercial space. Stay with us.

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And here's your Friday Intel Briefing. And no, they haven't sponsored the show, although you know, feel free to give us a ring, Molson Coors. Blue Moon is the name of the lander for NASA's Artemis V mission which is slated for early 2030. And as the name implies, Blue Moon is going to be made by a team led by Blue Origin. And the team partners include Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic, and Honeybee. For Artemis V, the NASA SLS will launch four astronauts aboard the Orion capsule to lunar orbit. Orion will then dock with the upcoming Lunar Gateway, and then two of the crew will take Blue Moon down to the lunar surface, specifically to the South Pole area, for about a week. And the total value for this fixed price contract is about 3.4 billion dollars. And as you might know, Space X is the contractor of choice for lunar landings for Artemis Missions 3 and 4, and they did in fact bid for Artemis 5, but during NASA's announcement of this second lunar lander mission this morning, some key phrases came up when talking about why NASA went with someone else. Competition and a more diversified industrial base to advance innovation.

And speaking of NASA, I don't know about you, but I'd been a little nervous about the progress of this Lunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology, Operations, and Navigation Experiment, otherwise known as Capstone Program. Back in February, there'd been a COMS blackout for about 11 days, where, like a cranky toddler, Capstone just wasn't listening to anybody. And thankfully, after snacks and a nap, I mean, a reboot, Capstone got back into good behavior, and as of yesterday, NASA has now announced a mission success for this cube-set, which is going to have a unique role to play for the Lunar Gateway.

Capstone successfully tested its Caps technology, which is kind of like GPS for the moon, which is going to be very important when we send astronauts to the lunar surface for days at a time. And NASA also announced that the lunar cube set has now been officially flying in the Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit, or NRHO, around the moon for six months. And the NRHO is a beautifully unusual, elliptical-ish orbit, that uses the pull between the earth's and the moon's gravity to do almost all of the orbiting work, meaning way less reliance on fuel. This six-month success matters because it demonstrates the unusual orbits stability. And the plan is for the Lunar Gateway to use NRHO as well.

Now, being the sibling show to our friends over at the CyberWire, we here at T-Minus are always pretty jazzed when space and cybersecurity news happens. Kind of like chocolate and peanut butter, they definitely go better together. And yesterday, we learned that SpiderOak, which does cyber security for satellites, got another investment round. Just a few months after their $16.4 million Series C, back in January. This latest round came with support from Accenture Ventures, Raytheon Technologies RTX Ventures, and Stellar Ventures. The new funding will help extend SpiderOaks's OrbitSecure software, from onboard the satellites, to the ground stations now, providing end-to-end security for satellite data. The company also plans to further develop its work in securing satellite communications in the ever-crowded low earth orbit, or LEO, especially for National Defense applications.

And a neat product announcement from the Canadian Space Agency, which has just tapped Canadian nuclear laboratories, or CNL, to develop and test multi-purpose materials that can better withstand the harshness of space, and more importantly, better protect the humans and equipment within spacecraft, making long-term travel in space a lot safer for astronauts. Extreme temperature flux, bombardment from cosmic radiation and solar events, secondary radiation from neutrons and gamma rays, oh yes, and the mechanical stress of launch, these are always challenges for material sciences, and CNL says they're working on a nanocomposite material that is up to the task. CNL got a million-dollar grant for the research, through CSA's space technology development program.

And Space News is reporting that Zeno Power Systems, which makes radioisotope power systems, or RPS's, just won a four-year, $30 million STRATFI contract, with the U.S. Air Force, to build a radioisotope powered satellite by 2025. Now, Zeno's been working on making RPS's accessible to small sat's and the commercial sector, and this marks a step in that direction. And yes, if you're saying to yourself, "Hey, Maria, RPS in space is not a new thing at all," indeed you are right. In fact, NASA's Voyager I and II are still kicking as they go interstellar, because they are powered by RPS's, as are New Horizons and Curiosity and Perseverance on Mars. NASA has a proud history of using RPS for its spacecraft, but scaling RPS down and making it accessible to missions that aren't, well, NASA, has been a challenge. This grant to Zeno is an interesting step in making RPS more accessible to more kinds of space missions, especially for military applications. So, one to watch there.

Satellite tech is going preindustrial. A joint team from Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry in Japan, have found that wood maintains its durability in harsh conditions of space after a ten-month experiment on board the ISS. This discovery brings us one step closer to building satellites out of wood. Yes, the same stuff that trees are made out of. The experiment involved tested three types of wood under the temperature and radiation conditions of space, and the results showed no signs of deterioration such as cracking or warping, and almost no change in weight. The team plans to further study the strength of wood to better understand how it may deteriorate in space and how to prevent it. Magnolia was the most promising of the three varieties of trees tested, due to its workability and strength, and is set to be used in an experimental satellite next year. And our executive editor was quick to point out that magnolia is one of the larger genera of flowering trees, and the species most likely used in the experiment was Magnolia obovata, also known as the Japanese Cucumber Tree, a medium-sized deciduous tree that can mature 40-feet tall in 10 to 15 years. Thanks for that, Brandon. One of the advantages of wood as a replacement for aluminum, is that its transparent to electromagnetic radiation, which means that antennas that are usually external and prone to mechanical and other failures, actually could be housed inside the satellites. Wooden satellites would also completely disintegrate upon reentry after their operational life, which potentially could lessen the environmental impact of defunct satellites. That's an interesting one.

The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, recently decided in favor of SpaceX's Starlink over Dish Network. The decision maintains a 12.2 to 12.7 gigahertz band used by Starlink for customer terminal downloads and denies authorization for high-powered terrestrial mobile service. The FCC highlighted the potential risk of harmful interference to existing satellite services, in the burgeoning satellite broadband market. The FCC is considering allowing point-to-point fixed links at higher power levels and adding underlay and unlicensed use in this band. Now, underlay refers to a low-power service that operates within a spectrum band, without causing harmful interference to incumbent services. And spectrum bands for unlicensed use can be accessed without a specific license granted by the FCC and is often used for technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Starlink has grown to over 1.5 million subscribers in just two-and-a-half years, offering services in over 50 countries. And this is a faster growth rate compared to Hughes, which took nearly eight years to reach one million subscribers. Brent Prokosh, a Senior Affiliate at Euroconsult, suggests that 50 to 70% of Starlink's growth comes from expanding the satellite broadband market, rather than poaching customers from competitors.

And the Axiom II mission, the second, all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, is scheduled to launch on Sunday, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew includes Mission Commander Peggy Whitson, an experienced astronaut who has spent over 665 days in space. Mission Pilot is John Shoffner, a STEM advocate, business pioneer, and pilot, with significant flight experience. The mission also includes two astronauts from Saudi Arabia. Ali Al-Qarni, a Royal Saudi Air Force fighter pilot with over 2,387 flight hours, and Rayyanah Barnawi, a biomedical scientist with almost a decade of experience in cancer stem cell research. Barnawai is set to make history as the first Saudi female astronaut to go to space. And we wish the Axiom II crew fair solar winds and following celestial seas.

And finally, here's a story for Feel Good Friday. The Carmen Project has announced the 15 global leaders chosen for its 2023 Fellowship Program. The fellowship aims to foster international leadership, dialogue, and action, in the space sector, and it aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, to advance sustainability, education, empowerment, cooperation, science, and inspiration. Hailing from 12 nations across six continents, the fellows represent the forefront of the space industry, with a diverse mix of individuals from startups, cultural sectors, venture capital, research, space agencies, and industry. And the industry is in good hands.

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And that's it for our Intel Everything for today. And hey, T-Minus crew, make sure you tune in tomorrow for T-Minus, "Deep Space," our show for extended interviews, special editions, and deep dives, with some of the most influential professionals in the space industry. Now, tomorrow we have Namrata Goswami, talking about India's space policy and moves towards commercial space. Make sure you check it out while you're mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, folding laundry, driving your kids to the game. You don't want to miss it.

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In today's interview, T-Minus Executive Producer, Brandon Karpf, speaks with Namrata Goswami, Strategic Analyst and Consultant with a focus on space policy. Namrata walks us through recent developments in India's space policy, including India's decision to introduce its first official space policy which emphasizes the privatization of the entire space ecosystem, with a particular focus on the civil sector. They also discuss the implications of the shift, including the potential impact on India's military capabilities, and its aspirations to increase its contribution to the global space economy. Here's the conversation with Namrata Goswami.

>> Namrata Goswami: If you look at the current state of India's space policy, just this year, India came up with an official space policy for the first time actually, for India since it established a space program in 1969. So, the current focus is to privatize the entire space ecosystem.

>> Brandon Karpf: So, does that cover both civil as well as military capabilities?

>> Namrata Goswami: It covers more civil, as of today. So, if you look at the space policy, it focuses a lot on privatizing the civilian component which is the Indian Space Research Organization component. If you think about the military space capability, which includes the defense research development organization, that will still remain a government funded program, but importantly, last year, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, put out a call, 27 list of items that was included, which included communications, navigation, construction of satellites, construction of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance capability. And he actually called out for the commercial space sector to contribute to that particular defense capability. So, I would say that in the next five years, we will also see growing privatization of building capability for India's military structure. It hasn't happened as of yet.

>> Brandon Karpf: Why are we seeing these changes, and the privatization happening today?

>> Namrata Goswami: I think India woke up to the privatization of space capability when it saw what happened in the U.S. ecosystem in 2015. So, in 2015 December, Blue Origin and SpaceX launched reusable rockets, suborbital and orbital, and also the growing privatization since then, which is supported by U.S. Space Policy, which included commercial orbital transportation system, commercial crew, commercial cargo, public/private partnership. And what happened because of that, was that the contribution to the space economy from the U.S. private sector was very, very high. So, since 2015, the consequence of that is that India's space ecosystem started introspecting and arguing that India's contribution to the global space economy is about 1%, at that time, and including today. And the ambition is to scale it up to about 9% by 2030. And by 2030, the global economy will be 1 trillion dollars. Today, it's about 400 billion. Actual institution change that actually was brought about by the Indian government, occurred around 2019 when they established the New Space India Limited. And this also means that the Indian private ecosystem is getting mature. And so, the shift happened since 2019. And today, I think because there was a big push from the private space sector, that for India to be able to thrive in the global space economy, it needs to privatize, it needs to create regulation that supports that kind of privatization. And more importantly, it needs to establish institutions within India that supports that particular change. So, that's the context of why this change has been brought about. It's been in the making for five years, and today you see end result of that with the Indian Space Policy.

>> Brandon Karpf: Got it. So, it sounds a bit like global competition, and economic development as two of the driving factors. Is national security a consideration here as well?

>> Namrata Goswami: National security is a big consideration because if you look at the drivers for India's space program overall, one includes economic development, two includes contribution to India's regional leadership, by which I mean using space for diplomatic purposes, and the final driver is national security. And India woke up to that particular aspect in 2007 when China tested an anti [inaudible] weapon, by which China showcased to India that India's space capability can be destroyed if there is an escalation in conflict. And as you know, India-China has border disputes, territorial disputes. And so, yes, national security is a big part. India's taken decisions to establish its military space capability, including testing in anti [inaudible] weapon in 2019. Interestingly, the space policy itself does not talk about the development of national security. And to understand that, you have to go beyond the Indian official space policy. You have to see that the Indian Prime Minister talked about the development of space power when India tested anti [inaudible] weapon. And then last year, as I said, called out for the development of defense space capability. And then in 2019, India established a defense base agency, very similar to the United States Space Force, under the Indian Air Force. And so, yes, to answer your question, national security is playing a key contributing factor in India's development of space power.

>> Brandon Karpf: Since these recent developments, have we seen a reaction or a response from the other key players in the international order? I'm thinking of course, you know, the U.S., China, the E.U, even Japan?

>> Namrata Goswami: I think if you look at how for example, the U.S. -- let's take the U.S., European Union, and the -- and Japan. So, India, U.S., Japan, and Australia are part of the quadrilateral security dialogue that has now included space collaboration and building of space capability. So, you can see that this particular push for privatization is also going to help India in contributing to the regional level and the global level of space situational awareness, space domain awareness, as well as launching. So, and from the U.S. side, you see that just recently, India and the U.S. had a very high-level space dialogue, in which the Indian Space Research Organization Chairperson, and the NASA Administrator were present. And both agreed again to collaborate in key technologies. One is space. And in space, concepts like quantum computing, India's contribution to lunar space development and space situational awareness were included. So, you see that there is a response to that kind of privatization. And then finally, from Japan's side, just focus critically on Japan, Japan in there already has deep space collaboration. India and Japan are going to the moon together, I think in 2025, to the South Pole of the moon, with a resource prospector as well. And then, India/Japan are also key collaborators in terms of ensuring that the Indo Pacific remains free and open, and space has been included. But in the final analysis, I'll say that if you think about one of the key developments in the space policy document itself, for the first time, India has made a position very clear about the utilization of space resources, right? So, the Outer Space Treaty says that you can -- cannot appropriate. You cannot claim sovereignty. But does not stop utilization. So, the Indian position is very clear now, that if an Indian citizen or an Indian company is able to go and extract resources, for example say, on the South Pole of the moon, Indian Space Policy will support that particular company to keep those resources, own it, and profit from it. Now, this position is very similar with the U.S. commercial space launch competitive fact, Japan's space mining law, and Luxembourg's space mining law as well. So, you can see that India is signaling that it has similar perspective when it comes to space resources with the United States and Japan and Luxembourg, which means that collaboration in the future in this key strategic technology, will become much more feasible.

>> Brandon Karpf: So, sort of clarifying to the private sector that they will be backed up by the -- by the state itself when it comes to those technologies, and potential future business models. Is that kind of the -- the through line there?

>> Namrata Goswami: Yes, that's exactly the trust of the space policy. So, because there was critique that India's Space Policy and Regulations were not clear, and also what is critical, Brandon, is that the Indian Space Policy document enables private, direct investment in space development and capability, which means it is signaling to -- for example, hypothetically, to the United States investor community that India's space private sector is now open for foreign direct investment, which is again an amazing development, because India after all, has some of the most advanced space launch capability, and can also do it very cost effectively, right? The manufacturing of a rocket in India is much cheaper than say in the United States. So, there is signaling again happening.

>> Brandon Karpf: Do we see investors, foreign investors, coming in, you know, local investors, building up their capabilities? Do we see businesses ramping up to take advantage of these new opportunities?

>> Namrata Goswami: Great question. So, since 2019, India has been able to develop space startups. For example, you already have startups developing technologies like propulsion, space [inaudible] power, wireless transmission of energy, building apps supported by satellite support for helping farming and agriculture, and also India has now -- has a private company called Axiom India that is planning to build low earth orbit constellations to build satellite internet. So, since the shift in 2019, and I wasn't -- I went to do field work in India in 2017, where the biggest complaint of the new space startup companies was that because of a lack of clear demarcation of responsibility and institutions, the investment climate was slow. But now, with clarification, with the Indian government putting funding for developing their space startups, I see a scaling up. The official space policy came up last month. So, it'll take us a little bit of time to see what impact it has in terms of foreign direct investment. But if I think about the other economies that India had opened up, for example, information technology. You see that the moment India took a decision to have foreign direct investment, the investments scaled up, right? So, I would say a similar trajectory, but we'll have to give it a year or two to see the impact of that.

>> Brandon Karpf: Maybe we can revisit in a year or two and kind of do a reassessment once the engines have fully revved and taken off. Namrata Goswami, thank you so much for joining me today.

>> Namrata Goswami: Oh, thank you for having me.

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>> Maria Varmazis: And that was just half of the interview with Namrata Goswami. As we often do, we'll be publishing the conversation in full tomorrow, on our special Saturday edition which we call "T-Minus: Deep Space." It's a fascinating chat about India's space program more in depth. So, definitely tune in and give it a listen.

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We'll be right back.

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And we're back. And if we're going to be sending humans on long duration missions in space or on Mars, they're going to need plenty of grub to keep them fueled. One cannot survive on Tang and dehydrated ice cream alone, though heaven knows, some folks have tried. And while Matt Damon may have grown potatoes on Mars, that's still science fiction, guys. A long-term solution, as in for years, not weeks or months, for feeding astronauts, is a genuinely pressing and tricky problem. And back in 2021, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency started the Deep Space Food Challenge to get some creative ideas into the mix. And since 2021, 300 teams from 32 countries have participated in this challenge, and there've been two phases and funding rounds to this contest. There are small scale concepts for the most part. And this weekend, NASA and the CSA will be announcing who will be moving on to the final round to see if their ideas can hold up at scale. The overall winners will be named next April, and each winner will be awarded a million dollars to help develop their technology.

The proposals from the Phase 2 finalists are really fascinatingly creative. Some involve making essentially a terrarium for food, a self-contained, earthlike ecosystem to cultivate mushrooms, vegetables, or even insect protein sources like soldier flies. Mushrooms also play a big part in another finalist's proposal. A protein from fermented fungus could be 3D printed and used to make basically a mushroom based chicken nugget. And another proposal is to, and I mean this genuinely, repurpose the CO2 in astronaut breath to produce alcohol. Basically, a CO2 vodka, which is useful for seed germination, if I remember that gardening hack. Still, imagine being on Mars for months or years, having nothing to eat but 3D printed fermented fungus nuggets and soldier flies. Yes, I'd say a vodka martini on Mars might just take the edge off.

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You know, we started this show with a beer, and ended with a martini. Yes, it's definitely Friday. And that's it for T-Minus for Friday, May 19th, 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 space@n2k.com 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. 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. 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. Learn more at n2k.com. This episode was produced by Alice Carruth, mixing by Elliott Peltzman, and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliott Peltzman. Our executive producer is Brandon Karpf. Our Chief Intelligence Officer is Eric Tillman. And I'm Maria Varmazis. Have a wonderful weekend.

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