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A Chinese civilian joins the Tiangong crew.

China launches a civilian to space. Software to blame for ispace failure. The UAE plans a mission to the asteroid belt. Spain signs Artemis Accords, and more.





China launches three taikonauts to Tiangong space station. Japan’s ispace blames software issues for the failed lunar landing mission. A Japanese public-private partnership has announced that it will attempt to beam solar energy from space as early as 2025. Spain signs the Artemis Accords, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest for today’s episode is Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency. Josef talks to our Executive Producer Brandon Karpf about ESA's cybersecurity strategy, security by design, and digital transformation.

You can follow Josef on LinkedIn and Twitter and find out more about ESA on their website.

Selected Reading

China sends first civilian astronaut to space as Shenzhou-16 blasts off- CNN

Crash of private Japanese moon lander blamed on touchdown location switch- Oxford Mail

Japan to try beaming solar power from space in mid-decade- Nikkei Asia

The United Arab Emirates Is Heading for the Asteroid Belt- NY Times

SpaceX launches Badr-8 to bolster Arabsat’s satellite fleet- Space News

Soyuz 2.1a launches Kondor-FKA n°1 satellite from Vostochny- NASASpaceFlight.com 

Telesat selects Space Flight Laboratory to manufacture LEO 3 demonstration satellite- Yahoo Finance

Have Space Command HQ Requirements Changed? Investigations Underway- Military.com

NASA Welcomes Spain as 25th Artemis Accords Signatory- NASA

NASA inspector general faults agency on SLS booster and engine overruns- Space News

U.S. Department of Education, NASA Strengthen Partnership to Advance STEM and Space Education- Ed.gov

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>> Maria Varmazis: It's a well-earned shift change for the three astronauts aboard Tiangong, who have been on China's space station for about six months now, as a fresh crew of three headed to orbit to begin their own half-year mission. And this new crew of three, composed of the mission commander, an aerospace engineer, and a payload specialist, are all notable in their own ways, of course, and one of them is also a first for China. Up until now, all Chinese astronauts have also been members of the Chinese Army. But, with this new crew, China has now launched their first civilian astronaut. Today is May 30, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis, and this is T-Minus.

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Shenzhou 16 brings a civilian to space. Software to blame for a hard landing. The UAE plans a mission to the asteroid belt. Russia adds to its collection of Kondor Earth observation satellites. And our guest for today's episode is Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency. Josef talked to our executive producer, Brandon Karpf, about ESA's cybersecurity strategy. All this and more. Don't go anywhere. And here is your intel briefing for today. On Tuesday morning Beijing local time from Jiuquan, the Shenzhou 16 mission crew lifted off aboard a two-stage Long March 2F with a crew of three. Aerospace engineers Zhu Yangzhu, payload specialist Gui Haichao, and Commander Jing Haipeng. They are headed to Tiangong space station to relieve the three astronauts aboard who are from the Shenzhou 15 mission. Now, that crew has been aboard the Tiangong since November and are planned to head back to Earth hopefully this weekend. And, like their predecessors, the Shenzhou 16 astronauts will be aboard the Tiangong space station for a half-year stint, conducting scientific research and educational outreach. The Shenzhou 16 also marks a notable first for China as astronaut Gui Haichao, the mission payload specialist, is a civilian. And his inclusion in the mission makes him the first civilian in China's human spaceflight program. The mission also marks the fourth journey to space for Shenzhou 16's mission commander, Jing Haipeng, which makes him China's most frequent space flyer, so to speak. Tech issues can be blamed for nearly every problem we face here on terra firma, but it seems it's also to blame for many glitches in space as well. Japan's iSpace has revealed that its failed lunar landing mission was likely caused by a problem with software and an incorrect measurement of the spacecraft's altitude. A statement by iSpace says the altitude measured by the onboard sensors rose sharply when it passed over a large cliff approximately two miles in elevation on the lunar surface, which was determined to be the rim of a crater. After reaching the scheduled landing time, the lander continued to descend at a low speed until the propulsion system ran out of fuel. At that time, that controlled descent of the lander ceased, and it's believed to have freefallen to the moon's surface from just about three miles above the landing spot. So close, iSpace. So close. And staying with Japan for a moment, a public private partnership has announced that it will attempt to beam solar energy from space as early as 2025. The project led by a Kyoto University professor plans to deploy a series of small satellites in geostationary orbit or GEO. The satellites will collect the energy as microwaves and then beam them to ground based receiving stations to be converted to electrical energy. Japan says they aim to demonstrate their technology ahead of the rest of the world and hope to use it as a bargaining tool for space development with other countries. The biggest hurdle for the partnership is figuring out how to lower the price tag of undertaking this mission, which is currently estimated to cost over 7 billion -- yes, with a B, billion -- US dollars. Following the success of the Hope Mars mission, the United Arab Emirates has announced that it plans to send a spacecraft to study the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mission aiming to launch in 2028 is set to send a vehicle to seven asteroids, including one called Justitia that could give insight into the genesis of life on Earth. The 13-year project will take six years of development and seven years of exploration, spanning more than 3 billion miles. The spacecraft is named MBR after Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Staying in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia's Arabsat added a new Badr 8 TV broadcast and telecom satellite in orbit on a SpaceX rocket ride share this weekend. The satellite is carrying a jamming resistant optical communications payload demonstrator. The spacecraft was produced by Airbus Defence and Space who declared the launch success several hours after liftoff from Florida although, to be fair, it will be several months for the vehicle to reach its 26 degrees east orbital slot. And now on to Russia, who launched the Kondor FKA number 1 military satellite for Earth observation last week onboard a Soyuz 2.1a rocket. The Kondor family of satellites have been developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya for the Russian Space Force. The Kondor series of Earth imaging and military reconnaissance vehicles use an S band synthetic aperture radar, which can conduct both continuous swath surveys and detailed spot surveys of Earth's surface. Now, they do say that Big Brother is always watching, so be sure to give them a show. Continuing with satellite news and global operator Telesat has awarded a contract to Canadian company Spaceflight Laboratory to manufacture a low Earth orbit demonstration satellite. The LEO 3 vehicle aims to provide continuity for testing campaigns following the decommissioning of Telesat's Phase 1 LEO satellite. The LEO 3 will operate under an existing ITU network filing for Telesat Lightspeed, the company's enterprise class LEO constellation. And we've been covering the saga of Space Command's permanent home a lot recently. And let's be honest. It's a drama worthy of its own Netflix series. And in the latest plot twist, it seems that the Air Force Secretary is now investigating changes made in the Command's mission, of which the Secretary says he was not aware. So, first, it was politics. And now its mission objectives in the way of the relocation to Alabama. Will they go to Colorado? Will they stay? Will they go? Stay tuned for future T-Minus roundups as we reveal the next hurdle in the road to Redstone Arsenal. And on to news from NASA now, and the US space agency welcomed Spain as the latest country to sign the Artemis Accords. At a ceremony at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Spain's Science and Innovation Minister Diana Morant signed the agreement aimed at establishing a practical set of principles that guide space exploration cooperation among nations. The Office of NASA's Inspector General has released an audit on the Space Launch System project, and it doesn't make for a pleasant reading, especially if you're an SLS fan. NASA has been adapting Heritage Hardware from the space shuttle era, as you might know, including solid rocket boosters and RS-25 rocket engines to power the Artemis campaigns SLS that will launch the Orion crew capsule to the moon. The report says that NASA has incurred about $6 billion dollars in cost increases related to both changes in scope of contracts awarded to Northrop Grumman and Aerojet Rocketdyne and is experiencing delays that are running over six years behind schedule. For its part, NASA says it's exploring ways to make the SLS more affordable by moving towards a fixed price contract structure for booster production and establishing cost reduction targets on the production of new RS-25 engines. The report states that, while these efforts may result in savings over the long-term, ongoing schedule delays and cost increases raise questions about the agency's ability to meaningfully reduce booster and engine-related Artemis costs. Now after that doom and gloom story, we have some cheery news to end our briefing on. NASA and the US Department of Education have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen collaboration between the two agencies. The MOU includes efforts to increase access to high-quality STEM and space education to students in schools across the United States. You can read more about that agreement and all of the stories that we've covered today in the Selected Reading section on our website, space.n2k.com. And we've included a piece from Seraphim Space on space investment being better than expected in 2023. Not too bad. And that concludes our intel briefing for today. And stay with us for executive producer Brandon Karpf's conversation with Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency. Josef talks to us about ESA's cybersecurity strategy. And, Hey, T-Minus crew. Our audience is growing rapidly, and that's a big thanks to you. If you're just joining us, be sure to follow T-Minus Space Daily in your favorite podcast app. And, also, if you could do us a favor, 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. The European Space Agency has been busy with remarkable endeavors for science like Juice, as well as ongoing communications and security infrastructure projects. And the data for all these projects has to be protected, of course. In this conversation with T-Minus executive producer Brandon Karpf, Josef Aschbacher, Director General of ESA, walks us through how ESA integrate security into projects just like Juice and how the agency is looking ahead to future investments in quantum technology.

>> Josef Aschbacher: Cybersecurity is a must for all the operations you have. On one side, of course, you have your communication, your email systems, your interactions with industry. Industry has a lot of IPR so a lot of information that is commercial in confidence. And on the other side, you have an infrastructure to run. An infrastructure means satellites in space. Workers for launch satellites that go not only around our planet but also the outer space to Jupiter. We've just launched Juice. So all this needs to be secure. And you have to make sure that your system overall is pretty watertight in terms of all the possible attacks that can happen and do happen on the single day. Of course, like any other major organization, we are holding a lot of information that is relevant, that is extremely important. Or a lot of it is industrial information is IPR, or intellectual property rights, which are connected to industry. So advancement in technology and space, of course, is one of the cutting edge elements where a lot of research goes in. And getting hold of his information, of course, is probably of interest to many. So yes, sir. We have a good system in place. I couldn't name you all the specifics. Even if I could, I wouldn't because this is obviously something that you don't want just to lay on the table. But I can say, sir, for my IT and my ESA security officer responsible that our system is pretty robust, pretty sound. In fact, we have a distributed system with backups as anyone would have in such a situation. But really making sure that we defend information, the information of our people, of our industry, of our assets interface, and that the assets are ground.

>> Brandon Karpf: And, of course, congratulations on Juice. It's great to see that successful launch and the initial milestones being achieved. During the -- that program development, were any of these considerations made about security, especially the -- thinking about the communications with the spacecraft and some of the potential threats? Was that part of the program of development?

>> Josef Aschbacher: It is part of the program. In fact, we have a very integrated security strategy that is really going from the beginning with a project manager and integrating and incorporating security relevant aspects to make sure that communication, encryption, or whatever is required because, if you don't, and we have some times in the past not done it, you pay a very hefty price because then we have to patch it on. And we integrate and make sure this is still securing the system and, therefore, it's additional work, which is much more complex than when you start from -- from the beginning. And that's our philosophy the way we do it. So -- but I guess this is not unique. I guess this is for major projects of this nature. Certainly this is our philosophy because, if you don't integrate security from the beginning, it is much more complex afterwards.

>> Brandon Karpf: So you've talked a little bit right there about potentially dealing with technical dent, you know, some of the older programs that may have not considered these things like secure by design and modularity moving forward. And you've had a storied career at ESA, you know, nearly 40 years working on these programs. How have you seen the industry and the technology develop approaching digital transformation from the beginning of your career to today? What are some of the biggest insights biggest changes you've seen from the digital ecosystem?

>> Josef Aschbacher: I mean, it's clear, as you say, I have a long career at ESA. That means I'm an old man, as you can conclude from that. No. But just going back to the early days are of course, always in space, you are collecting a lot of information. You have major datasets, and you have to manage them. So the digitalization or digital handling of all the information you have obviously has been in issue, has been an important aspect, certainly also on the side of ESA. But, of course, if we compare the means of those days with the means of today, there is no comparison. But also the security relevance or awareness and consciousness didn't exist decades ago. And this is really something that became much stronger, of course, with internet and with all the systems that are being built up and the data becoming much bigger. So this is certainly also something that has been going on. One thing I certainly have observed or is the positive structural integration of security in the project. So the beginning didn't exist. And we build the satellite, and we had to probably notice much security considerations are but just because communication wasn't really [inaudible] at the time, or there was not a danger of communication being impacted. By today, we are much more cautious and take many more precautions. And, therefore, it's really integrated much, much earlier in the process. So, yes. We have certainly learned here as we go. We have certainly increased our robustness of the overall system. And I think this is something that is not only necessary but certainly characterizes I would say a modern age space infrastructure, space -- space hardware, which simply demands this kind of precautions.

>> Brandon Karpf: So, then, looking forward the next five years, next ten years, where are the key opportunities and the key risks for these types of architectures?

>> Opportunities certainly are linked with much more robust encryption. And we work a lot with quantum technology on several aspects. Quantum communication, for example, is one of them. We just work on a quantum key distribution communication via spacecraft.

>> Brandon Karpf: Oh, wow.

>> Josef Aschbacher: And this is certainly cutting edge technology and something that is necessary to build up our resilient communication system. I think this is certainly one of the elements cybersecurity more classically, certainly another element that needs to be reinforced. But this is, again, I think this is a good standard practice for organizations and agencies of this type of workload isn't the size on this type of worker like the one of the European Space Agency.

>> Brandon Karpf: So what are your needs, then, as an agency? What -- where do you see yourselves investing capital, looking for industry partners, looking for businesses with new solutions? Where do you envision those investments coming?

>> Josef Aschbacher: I'm not the expert myself on cybersecurity and information technologies that are required to do so. But what I'm certainly doing is making sure that we have -- that we get the best assets on the market there to protect our systems. And I think this is just the point that will continue. In terms of budget, of course, we increase the amount of funding required to protect our systems. But certainly we go -- as the threats globally increase, we have to harden and further protect our systems. And I think this is common sense that you would apply this for ESA or probably also for many other organizations who are dealing with large amounts of important data.

>> Maria Varmazis: And our thanks again to Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency, for joining us on T-Minus. We'll be right back. And welcome back. And today's just a little bit of trivia for you. Now yesterday with the flight of the Shenzhou 16 mission to bring a fresh crew to the Tiangong space station, we actually hit a record number of humans on orbit at one time, 17 people in all. Now, if you look up the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of people in space at one time, the winning number is 19, achieved in December 2021 when a civilian crew aboard a Blue Origin flight briefly entered official space, adding their numbers to the astronauts aboard the two orbiting space stations. So one record says it's 19, but today everyone's saying it's 17. And you might be wondering what gives? Well, today's record is the difference between people in space just above the Kármán line, for example, and people fully on orbit. And, either way you slice it, it's amazing to see records being broken, 17 people in orbit at one time. That's just one person short of a full baseball game, a very compact, slow, lightweight baseball game but still. So that's six astronauts aboard China's Tiangong space station and 11 crew aboard the International Space Station, which included the four Axiom-2 crew members. And that brings us, if you can do the math, to the 17 on orbit, as we mentioned earlier. And that number of 17 is only going to last about 24 hours, as about 12 hours after the Shenzhou 16's arrival to the Tiangong, the Axiom-2 crew begin their departure from the ISS. Still, busy times on orbit.

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And that's it for T-Minus for May 30, 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 just 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 teams smarter. Learn more at n2k.com. This episode was produced by Alice Carruth, mixing by Elliot Peltzman and Tré 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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