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Space business in Australia. Plus Tournear bending ears and China’s retort to Artemis.

Opportunities down under and above. Apex to apex with SpaceX. Tournear is bending ears. China and Venezuela shake on it, to the moon and back ❤️. And more.





The Australia-USA connection in the space industry. Apex Space is ramping up. Loft Orbital is staying busy. The SDA is happy with how the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture is progressing. SDA Director Tournear is bending ears about supply chain and sustainability. China and Venezuela shake on it, to the moon and back ❤️. And more.

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Selected Reading

Aerospace Corporation Virgin Orbit Hiring Fair | Event Registration

Advanced power systems blaze a trail for America's space effort | GeekWire 

SSIB 2023 Hybrid Space Architecture and Advanced Power & Propulsion Working Groups | New Space NM

US$400m opportunity for Australian space sector | SpaceConnect

Economic opportunities in the space industry | KPMG  

Satellite bus startup Apex Space plans first launch aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-10 | TechCrunch

Loft Orbital orders 15 more buses from Airbus OneWeb Satellites | SpaceNews 

Space Development Agency’s first satellite launch hailed as model | SpaceNews

Tournear: Demand Likely to Grow for Commercial Deorbiting Systems | Via Satellite 

SDA’s Tournear ‘Just Not’ Afraid of Satellite Shootdowns. Supply Chain Is the Greater Worry | Air & Space Forces Magazine

China invites Venezuela to join moon base project | SpaceNews 

Mars Ingenuity helicopter breaks record for speed and altitude, NASA says | CBS News 

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Maria Varmazis:    The relationship between the US and Australia on all things space has been in the spotlight lately, namely because NASA Administrator, Bill Nelson, was visiting Australia recently, specifically, to shore up the US-Australia partnership and to urge the Australian government to invest more in its own space industry. Now, Nelson isn't alone in saying that the growing Australian space industry could be a huge win-win for both Australia and the United States. In fact, today, there's a new report out from Australia that says this relationship could be worth nearly a half a billion US dollars. Today is April 6, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis. And this is T-Minus. The Australia-USA connection in the space industry. Apex Space is ramping up. Loft Orbital is busy, busy, busy. The SDA is happy with how the PWSA is progressing. All this and more, so stay with us. KPMG and the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia have released a new report about the mutual benefit of increased collaboration between Australia and US. The report says that by Australia increasing space-related trade with the United States, Australia could stand a hugely benefit from exports to the US to the tune of nearly 400 million US dollars and 1,300 created jobs in the next decade. That's if Australia accelerates trade with US. "If it continues with business as usual right now, exports to the US would be worth about 157 million US dollars," says the report. And the benefit for the US of Australia ramping up its own space industry, getting access to Australian supply chains. KPMG and AmCham report says this, "Australia can leverage its natural and structural advantages, strong foundations in many areas of the space industry, and the relationship with the US to realize significant potential, additional benefits from deeper mutual engagement. Australia can provide the United States with access to innovation, diversified supply chains, and reduction in cost of participation. And in return, Australian companies will benefit from significantly enhanced export opportunities." Now, we have a link to the report for you to read at your leisure on our show notes, which is at space.n2k.com. Apex Space has announced that its first satellite bus, the Aries, will be launching on the Transporter-10 rideshare next January. The Los Angeles-based startup raised $7.5 million in seed funding last year, and they are moving fast by design. In fact, speed to market is what Apex is all about. Apex Space is working to get spacecraft to orbit really fast in a matter of months instead of years. You can't move terribly quickly if your satellite bus has to be custom built, though. So for customers who don't need custom builds, Apex is trying to scale up with basically mass-manufactured satellite buses. In an interview with TechCrunch, Apex Space co-founder, Ian Cinnamon, said as far as he knows, this first mission for the Transporter-10 launch will mark the fastest time a company has ever moved from clean sheet to launch for this size class of satellite. And when it launches next year, the Aries will be in LEO with an anticipated 100 kilogram payload capacity. Apex Space has plans for larger capacity buses as well. A 250 kilogram bus and a 500 kilogram bus are both in the works. But in the meantime for Apex, the plan is to ramp up the mass manufacture process over the next few years to get to a pace of creating a satellite a week. In a new report from Space News, Loft Orbital has ordered more than 15 more Longbow satellite buses from Airbus OneWeb satellites. Loft Orbitals tagline is "Space made simple," meaning, in other words, handling the technical complexities of both the in-space and ground segments of space missions for their clients. It's what Loft Orbital calls space infrastructure as a service. Their new order from Airbus follows a similar order in January, 2022 for 15 of the same Longbow buses. Loft Orbital says those 2022 satellites sold out in six months, so that's why they're ordering more. That said, they're not an exclusive Airbus shop. According to the Space News story, Pierre-Damien Vaujour, Chief Executive of Loft Orbital says they've ordered buses from other satellite providers, including Raytheon and LeoStella, and they plan on working with multiple suppliers into the future. Loft Orbitals last funding round raised $140 million in 2021. And CEO Vaujour says they're planning on expanding their footprint and employee base. Speaking of organization's hiring, the Aerospace Corporation is hosting a hiring event specifically and exclusively for Virgin Orbit employees. It's going to be on Wednesday, April 12, between 12 and 4:00 PM in El Segundo, California. We've got a link to the hiring event in our show notes for you at space.n2k.com, as you've got to RSVP to attend. Switching gears to the US Space Development Agency or SDA, you might remember on April 2, was the first launch of the SDA's Tranche 0 satellites. Within three days of launch, the SDA was able to establish communications with all 10 satellites in orbit. Between that and the speed at which the Tranche 0 satellites were launched after they were ordered, just 27 months, well, the SDA is pretty happy with how quickly things are moving. These first 10 satellites are a big first step for the several 100 constellation in LEO that the SDA is building out, called the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture or PWSA. There are 18 more satellites in Tranche 0 plan for launch this year. And next year when Tranche 1 goes up, the PWSA is expected to be a constellation of 161. Now, these SDA-PWSA satellites are in LEO, but LEO is a region and not just one set distance above Earth. Now, LEO is roughly defined as the space above Earth that's 2,000 kilometers or below. However, a lot of satellites are hanging out up in LEO at distances less than half of that, for example, the ISS, whose orbit has been decaying, as you might have heard, is somewhere below 600 kilometers. Tiangong is between 340 and 450 kilometers. And the FCC said last year, satellites in LEO have to deorbit within five years of their mission completion. And if your satellite is at or below 600 kilometers above Earth, physics can basically take care of that deorbiting for you. And that is also why the orbital range is so crowded. But if you are at a thousand kilometers or more as the SDA-PWSA satellites are, you have to actively plan for how you're going to deorbit your satellite. SDA Director, Derek Tournear, said at Sea-Air-Space this week, that this is going to be a boon for ISAM. "The SDA will be looking to the commercial sector for help deorbiting their satellites," says Tournear. Adding this, "I can design my satellite maybe to have single stream on propulsion, which is bad, meaning, that if I lose my propulsion, then I'm stuck up there, space junk. But I don't worry about it now, because if there's a commercial company that I can pay a few million dollars to take that satellite and deorbit it, that's worth it to me. That's where the commercial model, I think, takes off because now I can take more risk and make my satellites more affordable because I know there's a trash man that can help me clean it up." Some additional words from Tournear and the SDA, "I'm not worried about any physical threats to the satellites themselves, I'm just not." He said that earlier this week. Now, there will be too many PWSA satellites on orbit to make any real monetary sense for an adversary to try and shoot down. Instead, the two vulnerabilities that Tournear is much more concerned about, you want to guess? One of them is cybersecurity. Specifically, cyber attacks on spacecraft and space systems. And the other is the resilience of the global supply chain, especially as it affects satellite manufacturing. According to Space News, Venezuela is joining China and Russia in the International Lunar Research Station or ILRS after a meeting in late March of space officials from Venezuela and China at China's Deep Space Exploration Laboratory or DSEL. The two countries already have a partnership on space activities, as many spacecraft for Venezuela have been both built and launched in China. DSEL's Executive Vice Chairman, Wu Yanhua, is hoping more BRICS and Latin American countries will be joining the ILRS in some capacity, including Brazil, which is also already an Artemis Accords signatory. Victoria Sampson, Washington Office Director at Secure World Foundation had this to say about the China-Venezuela ILRS partnership in comments to Space News. "It does lend credence to a concern that I have that we're seeing a bifurcation in lunar governance and approaches to lunar missions where you are either Team Artemis or Team ILRS. I don't think that's helpful, and it may end up leading to an unnecessarily competitive spirit for lunar missions, complicating an already complicated environment." Ginny, aka Ingenuity, everyone's favorite helicopter on Mars has broken a whole bunch of her own records now. She's now flown at a record 14 and a half miles per hour, beating her previous record of 13.4 miles per hour. And she's hit an altitude of 52 and a half feet on Mars. Ingenuity is coming up on her 50th flight. And all of these record-breaking technical milestones she's hitting aren't just for funsies, it's all good data. Ingenuity is showing her team back home what's possible for future Mars helicopters. And as such, the team is baking this knowledge into their plans for future Mars helicopter designs. What's next for Ingenuity?

Teddy Tzanetos:    So we're trying to fly faster, trying to fly higher. We've added new flight software capability. We can now detect landing sites airborne. Those sorts of winds are coming from the surface of Mars directly into the design of the new sample recovery helicopters. And she's done a fantastic job, surpassed any sort of metric of success that anyone on the team could have ever imagined for this little tiny, 4 pound spacecraft.

Maria Varmazis:    Okay. Those are our stories for today. We'll be right back after this break. And welcome back. Astronomers have discovered a pair of gravitationally-bound quasars. They're so close together that it had been believed up until now that they were just one quasar. But a huge international effort to study this phenomenon has led researchers to the surprising discovery of the double quasars inside merging galaxies, which have been around since the universe was a near 3 billion years old. A key part of this coordinated effort -- Hubble! Yes, Hubble still got it. Okay. Yes. Actually, this fascinating discovery was a huge team effort. And the dream team that made this happen was NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The Keck Observatory is in Hawaii, the International Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, NSS, Very Large Array in New Mexico, NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and ESA's Gaia Space Observatory. Who? Graduate student, Yu-Ching Chen of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, lead author of this study, says this, "Knowing about the progenitor population of black holes will eventually tell us all about the emergence of supermassive black holes in the early universe, and how frequent those mergers could be." You can read all about this cool discovery in the April 5 edition of Nature. And that's it for T-Minus for April 6, 2023. T-Minus is a production of N2K Networks, the news-to-knowledge platform for professionals. For links to all of today's stories and more, check out our show notes at space.n2k.com. Original music and sound designed by Elliott Peltzman, mixing by Tré Hester. Our executive producer is Brandon Karpf. And I'm Maria Varmazis. See you tomorrow.

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