The Quad flexes space.
The Quad gives space a shoutout. FCC approves Viasat-Inmarsat deal. Coverage from the GEOINT summit. Space Force goes meta. Spaceport Cornwall. And...
SpaceX joins FAA in environmental lawsuit. Three companies to buy Virgin Orbit assets. Arctic Space and One Web approved for Ground Station. And more.
SpaceX adds itself as co-defendant in an environmental lawsuit against the FAA. Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch, and Vast Space have all been named in court filings that divide Virgin Orbits assets. Arctic Space and One Web receive approval for Satellite Network Portal ground station in Sweden. Viasat and Inmarsat inch closer to merger, and more.
Remember to leave us a 5-star rating and review in your favorite podcast app.
Miss an episode? Sign-up for our weekly intelligence roundup, Signals and Space, and you’ll never miss a beat. And be sure to follow T-Minus on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Steven Tomaszewski, Senior Director at Aerospace Industries Association, on national security space considerations and policy.
You can connect with Steve on LinkedIn or Twitter and find out more about the Aerospace Industries Association on their website.
SpaceX set to join FAA to fight environmental lawsuit that could delay Starship work- CNBC
Virgin Orbit sells assets in bankruptcy auction to Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch and Vast’s Launcher- CNBC
Arctic Space Technologies to support OneWeb’s constellation with construction of hyperscale satellite ground station installation- One Web
Iridium and OneWeb Confirm Success Post SpaceX Launch- Via Satellite
Inmarsat Adds Free Wave Technologies as IoT Partner- Via Satellite
L3HARRIS RECEIVES CONTRACT TO ADVANCE TECHNOLOGY FOR INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY- L3Harris
AFRL taps Ursa Major for hypersonic, space launch engines- Breaking Defense
The Spaceport Company demonstrates offshore launch operations- SpaceNews
Space Mining Market Technology Thriving to Touch USD 1.99 Billion by 2027, With a CAGR of 14.41% - New study Research Report by Market Research Future (MRFR)- Global Newswire
Sending astronauts to Mars by 2040 is 'an audacious goal' but NASA is trying anyway- Space.com
How NASA Plans to Melt the Moon—and Build on Mars- Wired
We want to hear from you! Please complete our 4 question survey. It’ll help us get better and deliver you the most mission-critical space intel every day.
You too can reach the most influential leaders and operators in the industry. Here’s our media kit. Contact us at email@example.com to request more info.
Please send your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name, affiliation, and topic proposal.
T-Minus is a production of N2K Networks, your source for strategic workforce intelligence. © 2023 N2K Networks, Inc.
[ Musical Flourish ]
>> Maria Varmazis: Chivalry, or the Chivalric Code, is an informal and varying code
of conduct developed in Europe between 1170 and 1220. It's a combination of
qualities expected of an ideal knight -- courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a
readiness to help the weak, stepping into take the heat for someone else, the brave
standing up for the meek. It's alive and kicking in the space industry, with SpaceX
stepping in with the FAA to be jointly sued. They'll put aside your pre-Raphaelite
notions of romantic honor. The motivation in this case is purely business.
[ Music ]
Today is May 23, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis, and this is T-Minus.
[ Music ]
"No, sue me." says SpaceX. Virgin Orbit's assets to be divided between three space
companies. The OneWeb Satellite Network Portal is a step closer to reality. News
from GEOINT. L3Harris to look for human movement in a Haystack, and my
conversation with Steve Tomaszewski, Senior Director at the Aerospace Industries
Association on National Security Space Considerations and Policy. Stay with us.
[ Music ]
Now let's take a look at your intel briefing for today. Yeah, you might have heard
that a number of environmental groups are suing the Federal Aviation
Administration over SpaceX's Starship launch, saying that not enough was done to
lessen the impact to nearby wildlife and environmentally sensitive areas around
Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas. Now the FAA licenses launches like Starship's. You
might remember the "when launch" frenzy in March and April, as it seemed
everything was an order for Starship. Everything, that is, except for the FAA launch
permit. So if environmental groups are successful in suing the FAA, you could
imagine that any future Starship launches would not only be subject to additional
scrutiny, but also lots more delays. We're talking on the scale of years potentially.
And that, of course, would have a detrimental ripple effect on any business or
endeavor that's depending on Starship launches, for example, like Starlink. And
that's exactly what SpaceX is worried about, too. So they've filed a motion to
intervene, essentially to join the lawsuit as a co-defendant, along with the FAA. "The
FAA does not adequately represent SpaceX's interests." says SpaceX's motion to join
the lawsuit. Essentially, it's like they're saying to the plaintiffs, "Don't talk about me
like I'm not here." So you could argue that SpaceX's moved here is a bit chivalric.
Don't bring all the heat on the FAA when it's me you really want, but it's also a little
bit of taxi driver, isn't it? "You talking to me?" And onto an update on Virgin Orbit's
status now, and three aerospace companies are due to benefit from the sales of the
launch company's assets. Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch and Vast Space have all been
named in court filings that divide Virgin Orbit's belongings, as part of the
bankruptcy proceedings that started back in April. Rocket Lab bid $16.1 million for
Virgin's Long Beach headquarters and production equipment. Stratolaunch will
purchase Virgin Orbit's 747 carrier aircraft called "Cosmic Girl" for $17 million,
along with other aircraft assets, and Launcher, a subsidiary of Vast Space, is due to
purchase the company's facilities at Mojave Air and Space Port for a mere $2.7
million. Sales are due to be approved by the bankruptcy court in the next 24 hours,
and we will keep you posted. Moving on and we've got a lot of satellite news for you
today. So let's start with Arctic Space Technologies and OneWeb who have finalized
the design and obtained all approvals for the construction of the OneWeb Satellite
Network Portal, or SNP, which is a hyperscale satellite ground station installation at
the Arctic Space Technologies Space Center in Sweden. The company signed an
agreement in December 2022 to install 27 satellite-tracking antenna systems at the
site, which they plan to have operational later this year. The new site will provide
increased connectivity for OneWeb customers across industries including maritime
and aviation, and One Web has also announced successful communication with 16
satellites deployed on a Falcon 9 ride share, which brings their total to 634 satellites
on orbit. The satellites were successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base
on May 20th, alongside I have Iridium satellites, bringing the total of Iridium spare
satellites in orbit to 14. Eighty-one next-generation Iridium satellites have been
built, and 80 of them have now been deployed, which completes their upgraded
constellation. The Iridium constellation features 66 operational crosslinked
satellites. The company has been leading the satellite-directed to device movement,
partnering with Qualcomm technologies to enable satellite SOS, and two-way
messaging in premium Android smartphones. ViaSat is progressing with its
acquisition of Inmarsat, as we reported yesterday, saying that it has received the
Federal Communications Commission's approval for the purchase. In an update, the
company said the approval leaves only the European Commission's Competition
Review in the way of its acquisition effort. Meanwhile, in an update Inmarsat has
selected FreeWave as a partner for a global Internet of Things solutions provider.
FreeWave Technologies has agreed to be a distribution partner for Inmarsat's L-
band satellite IoT services. The partnership will focus on the integration of
Inmarsat's ICESat Data Pro Service. In FreeWave's end-to-end IoT solutions, it's
hoped that the agreement will provide FreeWave's customers with connectivity
solutions across industries including agriculture, oil and gas, and utilities and will
also support the use of IoT and businesses operating in the environmental tracking
space, including earthquake and flooding monitoring firms. And some news coming
out of GEOINT in St. Louis, and I apologize yesterday I said "St. Louis." Can't take the
Massachusetts out of the girl, I guess, and L3Harris Technologies have announced
new contracts for space-based communications and data analysis. The first contract
is with the US Air Force Research Lab for up to $80 million to test satellite
communication systems designed to operate with space-based internet
constellations operating in geostationary, medium, and low-Earth orbits. L3Harris
has also been awarded in Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, also
known as IARPA, contract to study human mobility based on data obtained by
satellites, GPS, Bluetooth, and other sources. The IARPA contract is part of the
Hidden Activity Signal and Trajectory Anomaly Characterization known as Haystack
program. This study will simulate human activity in various locations and cultures
with the aim to predict movement during disaster-relief efforts. Talk about looking
for a human movement in a Haystack (making sound effect). Anyway, we'll just
move on from that one, and the Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded Ursa
Major a contract to advance US Hypersonics defense programs and space launch
capabilities. The contract allows Ursa Major to build a prototype of its Hypersonic
Draper engine, as well as to further develop its 20,000-pound thrust Arroway
reusable liquid oxygen and methane staged combustion engine for medium and
heavy-launch vehicles. Ursa Major says their Draper engine will become the
foundation of America's counter-hypersonic capabilities, and it is applicable for both
space access and hypersonic applications. The rocket manufacturing company says
the Draper engine aligns with AFRL efforts in enhancing technical capabilities to
deliver assets rapidly and effectively to high-energy orbits or military-relevant
orbits. And T-Minus would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the
Spaceport company for holding the first demonstration of its offshore platform this
week. The floating Spaceport prototype hosted four sounding rocket
demonstrations by Evolution Space and successfully demonstrated its proof of
concept. The rockets were the first-ever commercial launches from US territorial
waters. Now I got to speak with Spaceport company CEO and founder Tom Murata
on May 1st. So make sure you listen to that conversation at space.n2k.com if you
missed it. And finally, some investment reports we thought might be of interest to
you. Market Research Future has released a report on the space mining market,
which it has estimated to be worth $1.99 billion by 2027. You can read the full
report, along with other articles we think you might like, in the selected reading
section on our website, which is again space.n2k.com.
[ Music ]
And that's our intel briefing for today's show. Coming up next is my chat with Steve
Tomaszewski, who's the Senior Director at the Aerospace Industries Association.
And hey T-Minus crew, our audience is growing rapidly, and that is a big thanks to
you. If you're just joining us, welcome, and be sure to follow T-Minus Space Daily in
your favorite podcast app. And also, do us a favor if you could. 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 and, as
always, at space.n2k.com.
[ Music ]
[ Musical Flourish ]
>> Maria Varmazis: In today's interview, we're getting into the changes and
challenges in the use of space in the National Security Space. My guest has a unique
vantage point to speak on the importance of resilient space architectures, as well as
opportunities and hurdles that the space industry might encounter there, and we'll
be discussing the growing threats and exciting developments that are shaping the
future of National Security Space. Here's our conversation.
[ Musical Flourish ]
>> Maria Varmazis: Steve, thank you so much for joining me today. We were
chatting a little bit before the interview, and you sort of described yourself as a
National Security Space guy, which is such a great title. So in that vein, let's dive into
it a bit. Give me a sort of a lay of the land in terms of National Security Space, if you
>> Steve Tomaszewski: Absolutely. So, we are in the middle of a revolution in
National Security Space. This is because our military and intelligence community
use space for more and more of their missions, and also, our adversaries have
noticed what we're doing in space and are building robust threat systems to
challenge us in the space domain. So this increases our military's dependence on
space for almost all missions that it does. At the same time, our adversaries
recognize that if they want to have an asymmetric advantage, if they ever had to go
toe to toe with the United States or our allies, they could target space systems
compared to going direct combat with us in the maritime or air domains or land
domains. So we see a lot of interest from our potential adversaries, building up a
suite of counterspace threat systems that can challenge us and that's really
challenging the establishment of what we've been doing with National Security
Space and forcing us to think differently.
>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, so what kind of technological innovations are we seeing
that are maybe changing the landscape for the warfighter?
>> Steve Tomaszewski: First and foremost, communications. You know, there are no
fiber lines going to aircraft carriers in the middle of the ocean. So, you know, the
Navy is incredibly dependent on satellite communications for pretty much
everything that it does. Also, missile warning and battlespace awareness. We have a
dedicated satellite constellations in space that are tuned to look at big hot flashes
coming from things like intercontinental ballistic missiles and giving us that early
warning to either shoot down incoming missiles or just be aware of where they're
potentially going. We also use space for positioning, navigation, and timing. So the
Global Positioning System, a constellation that everyone should be familiar with, is
actually owned and operated by the United States Space Force. We also depend on
space for weather and keeping track of all the changing weather patterns to support
current operations. We do intelligence and surveillance reconnaissance from space,
and lastly, space domain awareness. You might also hear this called space
situational awareness. It's using a network of ground-based, and also, space-based
sensors to keep track of all the different objects and satellites that are out in space.
>> Maria Varmazis: How do we make sure that all those expensive, hard to get up
into orbit assets are being secured and stay resilient as they're up there?
>> Steve Tomaszewski: Again, you really hit on it. It's all about resiliency. So this is
something that you're going to hear a lot about with National Security Space, and it's
making sure that our constellations are resilient against threats. And that actually
comes in a number of different layers. So first of all, for the satellites themselves,
you want them to be able to be defendable, make sure they can protect themselves if
they can and not be vulnerable to certain types of counterspace threat systems that
could potentially attack them. You also want to do things like proliferate your
architectures. Have a number of satellites doing redundant things, so if one gets
taken out, there's going to be backup systems, and you don't have single points of
failure. Something else that is part of resiliency is what they call reconstitution. If
there is some sort of a satellite taken out or a capability that's disrupted, you want
to have the ability to come back in and replenish or reconstitute that critical
capability and do that in an operational manner. So there's a lot of elements of that,
and there's not a single solution for resiliency across the board. It has to be an all-of-
the-above type of approach.
>> Maria Varmazis: And something I like to frame when I'm thinking about
something as broad as National Security Space are challenges and opportunities. So
what do you see in terms of challenges in the next five years, and then, on the flip
side, what are some great opportunities there?
>> Steve Tomaszewski: For challenges, I might start out by saying, you know, these
threats to satellites are really robust and they are increasing, and we have to take
them very seriously. The response to those threats is maybe where the
opportunities come in. So there has been a lot of reorganization across National
Security Space. Just in the last couple of years, we've seen new organizations stand
up like the United States Space Force as the newest military branch. We've also seen
the reestablishment of United States Space Command. That is, you know, back as
one of the combatant commands, and we also see a number of different space
acquisition organizations that are now coming to the table and providing
capabilities, such as the Space Development Agency, the Space Rapid Capabilities
Office. So there's a lot of opportunities to do this right and to kind of change the way
that we've approached space in the past. But there are a number of challenges
making sure that we have a budget stability for our National Security Space
capabilities. Every time we go to a continuing resolution, you know, from the
Congress for appropriating funds, that is a challenge. So we want to try to have
continued budget support for everything that we're doing in National Security
Space, and making sure that all of these new organizations are working well
together and collaborating is also going to be a challenge. The last challenge I might
highlight for you, but also an opportunity, is collaboration with industry. With all of
the great new things happening in the commercial space sector, it's really
challenging our National Security Space actors to try to take advantage of all the
great things that are happening out there and to respond and integrate those
capabilities in a deliberate and responsive manner. There's a lot of opportunities out
there, but the challenge is doing that effectively and making sure that those
capabilities are getting brought online. So they can actually be used by the
warfighter and our national policymakers.
>> Maria Varmazis: If we were speaking directly to industry right now, it sounds like
one of the directives there is about responsiveness and timing. Anything else that
industry should know about specifically working in security space, National Security
>> Steve Tomaszewski: Yeah, and, you know, I might flip the question just a little bit
of talking about, you know, what does industry want? So as a trade association, at
the Aerospace Industries Association, we have the privilege of representing over
320 companies across the aerospace and defense industry. And, you know, there's a
number of things that these companies can agree on, in particular, to National
Security Space. So we talked a little bit about kind of budget stability and making
sure that the federal government is consistently funded. We talked a little bit about
building resilient architectures and finding all-of-the-above ways to actually protect
and defend our National Security Space architectures. The other piece that's really
important right now is strengthening our supply chain and having resilience in the
supply chain. So space is a domain that has very specialized materials, specialized
technologies, and very technical workforce challenges, and making sure that we not
only have those science, technology, engineering, and math graduates to tackle some
of the hardest engineering problems, but also, for the skilled technical workforce.
You know, think about things like folks that might not have a college degree, but you
know, your welders, your machinists, your coders. That's incredibly important for
the space industry and National Security Space, and there's competition, kind of
across the board for those very specialized workers. And the last thing I might
throw out here, and this is something that industry struggles with, but also, it's
something that even parts of our US government struggles with, is over
classification. What I mean by that is, traditionally, there are a number of space
programs that have been incredibly classified, and we've done that for very
important reasons, making sure that we can retain our competitive edge against our
competitors. But sometimes, that actually restricts what we can actually share,
whether that's sharing information with international allies and partners, whether
it's collaborating with different parts of industry who might have really interesting
ideas to solve some of these hard challenges. So that also has to be addressed.
Making sure that we can protect our information appropriately but also finding
opportunities for collaboration and transparency.
>> Maria Varmazis: Are we specifically talking about ITAR in this case, or is there
something else that you have in mind?
>> Steve Tomaszewski: It's more than just ITAR. It's even how the US government
shares information amongst itself between different organizations. There's
challenges there. There's challenges between the Department of Defense and the
intelligence community, sharing across the those two parts there, and then helping
and collaborating directly with industry as well, finding ways that industry can bid
on new programs as an example of making sure that they have the right tickets for
different classified programs, to have the opportunities even to kind of think
through some of those things. So it's an all-of-the-above, and then with international
allies and partners, even operationally sharing information can be a big challenge.
>> Maria Varmazis: One last question for you. What are you really excited about
when you look ahead in terms of what's coming? What are some really cool things
that are maybe heading our way that you're like this might change things, or this
might really improve things for National Security Space?
>> Steve Tomaszewski: The biggest thing I'm excited about is all of the support for
National Security Space across the board, putting this in context with making sure
that different parts of the National Security Space enterprise are properly funded
from the federal government. You know, we are seeing a resurgence and a lot of
money getting added to the budget for things like the Space Force right now. So let
me put that in context for you. In the fiscal year 2024 President's Budget Request
that recently came out, NASA had a budget request of a little over $27 billion, which
is a lot of money. But let's compare that to the Space Force. In the Space Force's
Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request, it was a little over $30 billion. So more than a
NASA budget request, and where that's gone, even in the last couple of years. If we
go back to fiscal year 2021, the Space Force's Budget Request was $15 billion, so
about half of that. Now, there's a little bit of nuance there, as a lot of programs have
been transferring into the Space Force. So not all of that is organic growth, but we do
see big areas, especially when we're talking about satellite communications, missile
warning and tracking, that are taking advantage of some of these new resilient
architectures, and seeing a lot of money going towards those mission areas, but the
other the other piece that you don't see in that Space Force budget request is how
other military services like the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps are utilizing space
because they are purchasing their own things like GPS receivers and satellite
communications dishes separately, and it's not included in how the Space Force is
providing capabilities. It also doesn't include some of the space-based intelligence,
surveillance, reconnaissance assets, and constellations that the military is using
there. So that's the biggest thing I'm excited about is, you know, National Security
Space is really getting a lot of attention, and it's -- folks are realizing the benefits
from space, and they're dependent on them more and more. And as long as we can
meet that challenge with finding ways to continue to make resilient architectures
and protect our assets and provide some redundancy in case those assets are
targeted, that's really how we're going to win in space.
>> Maria Varmazis: Steve, I can't think of a better wrap up than that. Thank you so
much for joining me today.
>> Steve Tomaszewski: Thank you so much.
[ Music ]
And we'll be right back.
[ Musical Flourish ]
Welcome back. Now when we talk about events that affect radio wave propagation
and satellites, usually those events are coming from the sun, bursts of
electromagnetic interference from sun activity, coronal mass ejections, things like
that. But sometimes things here on terra firma are the cause of similar problems,
even though it's rare, but it does happen. But those events have got to be big, really
big, like massive volcanic-explosion big. Like the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai
submarine volcano that exploded last January near the Kingdom of Tonga in the
South Pacific. It made for some astounding photos if you remember them. The
plume reached 35 miles into the air and was the most powerful natural explosion on
Earth for more than a century, and it made some incredible waves in the water.
There were tsunami warnings galore from that explosion, and it made waves in the
atmosphere too. In fact, scientists at the Institute for Space Earth Environmental
Research at Japan's Nagoya University, have announced their discovery that the
volcano's explosion last year caused a disturbance in air pressure is so great that it
affected the ionosphere, all the way up to the F layer of the ionosphere to be exact,
about 620 miles above the Earth. And that was high up enough to cause disruptions
in satellite communications. And it's amazing to think that a volcano could affect a
satellite. Now radio enthusiasts know that the F layer of the ionosphere is the kind
of giant reflector dish you can bounce radio signals off. The electron-dense F layer is
what hams around the world often used to bounce high-frequency signals to one
another, and Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai's explosion last year created plasma
bubbles forced up into the bottom side of the F layer, basically bubbling up as it
went. Kind of like a gassy kid in a bathtub. You're welcome for that visual.
[ Music ]
And that's it for T-Minus for May 23, 2023. 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, mixing by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester,
with original music and sound design by Elliot Peltzman. Our executive producer is
Brandon Karpf. Our Chief Intelligence Officer is Eric Tillman, and I'm Maria
Varmazis. See you tomorrow.
[ Music ]
The Quad gives space a shoutout. FCC approves Viasat-Inmarsat deal. Coverage from the GEOINT summit. Space Force goes meta. Spaceport Cornwall. And...
Budget cuts hit Australia’s space sector. Debt ceiling talks put the freeze on the NDAA. Space Force wants industry feedback on guardian training....
Maxar officially goes private. And Arconic might. Voyager Space’s latest purchase brings Astrolab closer to reality. Starlink hits a major milestone....
Be the first to know when new podcasts, newsletters, and special editions drop.