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VCs do not like green eggs and SAM.

VCs and Tech firms call for DoD procurement reform. Ariane 5 final launch date set. Virgin Galactic targets June 29 for first commercial flight. And more.





Venture Capitalists and executives from tech firms have signed an open letter to the US Defense Secretary requesting that DoD innovation acquisitions get reformed. The final Ariane 5 launch will take place on July 4th. Virgin Galactic has announced that they are targeting Thursday, June 29th for their first commercial spaceflight. NASA’s CHAPEA starts a 12 month analog mission, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Today’s guest is Emily Dwinnells, Director of the Maine Spaceport Initiative, on the Maine space complex.

You can connect with Emily on LinkedIn and learn about the Maine Space Complex on their website.

Selected Reading

Venture capitalists, tech firms beg Defense Secretary to speed up innovation- Breaking Defense

Final Ariane 5 launch scheduled for July 4 after fixes to booster separation system- SpaceFlight Now

First Vulcan launch further delayed for Centaur modifications- SpaceNews

Virgin Galactic Announces ‘galactic 01’ Crew Onboard The First Commercial Spaceflight- Virgin Galactic

NASA analog astronauts 'depart' for year inside mock Mars base- Collect Space

Tech Startup Targets Missile Motors as Silicon Valley Moves Into Weapons- The Wall Street Journal

Industry invited to bid for LEO satnav demo- SatNews 

Deal focus: US Pentagon targets plasma-assisted hypersonic propulsion- Airforce Technology 

Why do some people get rashes in space? There's a clue in astronaut blood- NPR

NASA just recycled 98% of all astronaut pee and sweat on the ISS (engineers are thrilled)- Space.com

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>> Male 1: Show me the money!

>> Male 2: I need to feel you, Jerry.

>> Male 1: Show me the money! Show me the money! Show me the money.

>> Alice Carruth: No, you've not tuned in to a Hollywood podcast. Money talks, and it's certainly needed in the space industry. It was Jerry Maguire that made the Show me the money line infamous in all industries, and I'm sure it was ringing in the ears of the venture capitalists and tech firm bosses as they signed an open letter to the US Defense Secretary requesting that DoD innovation acquisitions get reformed and more money gets passed around.

>> Male 3: T-Minus 20 seconds.

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>> Alice Carruth: Today is June 26, 2023. I'm Alice Carruth, and this is T-Minus.

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BCs and tech firms begged the DoD to reform procurement procedures. Ariane 5 final launch date is set. Virgin Galactic announces its first commercial flight on June 29. We speak to Emily Dwinnells, Director of the Maine Spaceport Initiative on the latest developments at the Maine Space Complex. And I'll bring you the latest from last week's Spaceport America Cup.

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On to today's intel briefing. Thirteen executives are behind a letter asking US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to change how the military procures cutting edge technology, including space, by the Defense Innovation Unit. If you've ever used the federal procurement interface, then you can understand their frustrations. But they're going beyond complaining about the clunky web RFPs and are looking for more grant funds; less rigid cost accounting rules; and, of course, more money for annual procurements. The letter states the antiquated methods for developing requirements and selecting technologies have drastically limited the Department of Defense's access to the best commercial innovation, and this must change. We will see if sam.gov, which stands for System for Award Management, gets the facelift that it needs and if this letter gets the DoD to show those big tech firms more green notes. We've been talking about this for a few weeks now, and it seems that the final Ariane 5 launch will take place on July 4. ESA's go-to rocket for rideshares and cargo missions has experienced some delays to its final voyage due to a problem with the pyrotechnic systems. This last flight of the Ariane 5 will be the 117th mission for the vehicle since it was introduced in 1996 and will be replaced by Ariane Space's new Ariane 6 rocket. And, of course, it's not breaking news when we talk about delays in space. Our friends at Space News are reporting that the maiden flight of the United Launch Alliances Vulcan Centaur rocket has been further stalled due to necessary reinforcements to the Centaur's upper stage. Following the completed investigation of a hydrogen leak that occurred during a March test, the Centaur's stage will be sent back from Cape Canaveral to ULA's Alabama factory for modifications. The timeline for modifications, further testing, and rescheduling of the inaugural launch remains undisclosed. The eventual Cert-1 mission will carry Astrobiotic's Peregrine lunar lander, Amazon's Project Kuiper prototype satellites, and a Celestis payload. Virgin Galactic has announced that they're targeting this Thursday, June 29, for their first commercial spaceflight. The passengers are from the Italian Air Force and National Research Council plus one Virgin Galactic astronaut trainer. The crew are expected to conduct scientific research experiments during the suborbital mission at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The commercial space line company says it has transformed the cabin of the VSS Unity spaceplane into a science lab to allow the passengers to interact with payloads during the time in microgravity. Godspeed to the pilots and the four-person crew. And speaking of four-person crews, the first of three planned crew health and performance exploration analog missions, or CHAPEA, has started. On Sunday, the crew entered their home for the next 12 months, a 17,000 square foot 3D printed habitat located at NASA's Johnson Space Center, known as Mars Dune Alpha. There, the crew will simulate a Mars mission to help assess health and performance in relation to Mars resource limitations in isolation and confinement. The door is officially closed, meaning that the next time the crew will experience the Earth sky will be in 12 months. California based defense technologies company Anduril Industries has acquired solid rocket motor manufacturer Adranos for an undisclosed amount. It is hoped that the acquisition will update Adranos' solid rocket production complex in Mississippi into a modern manufacturing facility, which will increase output of both standard and ALITEC solid rocket motors to thousands per year at a much faster lead time than currently available. Through this acquisition, Anduril will become a merchant supplier of solid rocket motors to prime contractors delivering missiles, hypersonics, and other propulsion systems for the US DoD. Calling all SAT NAV companies in Europe. ESA has launched an invitation to tender, calling on companies to join a mini constellation demonstration of at least ten satellites placed in low Earth orbit for positioning, navigation, and timing services. The new system is a possible enhancement for ESA's Galileo constellation, which resides in medium Earth orbit, and is approaching its limit on technical performance. The demonstration request includes space and ground segments, system engineering aspects, operations, launch, the test user segment, experimentation, and service demonstration in representative user environments. And, later this week, the European Union Agency for the Space Programme will host Galileo High Accuracy Service Days, known as HAS, for users, industry stakeholders, application developers, and international experts to learn more about HAS. This event provides an opportunity for all attendees to discuss and share expectations of Galileo HAS, its challenges, and benefits. Participants will learn more about the status of Galileo HAS, including current performance, evolution plans, and key user applications. There will also be dedicated user sessions including live demonstrations, allowing participants to experiment the Galileo HAS capabilities.

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That concludes today's briefing, but we've included a few extra stories for you in the Selected Reading section of our show notes. The first focuses on the US Department of Defense investment in plasma assisted hypersonic propulsion. The second is an interesting biomedical piece from NPR about why humans are more susceptible to infections in space. And the third is an extraordinary engineering and water management achievement from the International Space Station. Check out these and the rest of today's stories in the Selected Reading section on our show notes. Hey, T-Minus crew. Every Monday we produce a written intelligence Roundup. It's called Signals and Space. If you happen to miss any T-Minus episodes, this strategic intelligence product will get you up to speed in the fastest way possible. It's all signals, no noise. You can sign up for Signals and Space in our show notes or at space.n2k.com.

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Our interview today is with Emily Dwinnells, Director of the Maine Spaceport Initiative. I started off asking Emily what the Maine Space Complex is.

>> Emily Dwinnells: So the Maine Space Complex is this moonshot that came to bear a couple of years ago. We're looking at the Maine Space Grant Consortium, which is a NASA funded 501(c)(3) that exists in every state, was really thinking about the investments they had been making in the state and realizing that they've been doing some really high-level, really important research, but they hadn't necessarily been getting an ROI on the research. People who were doing it weren't sticking around. There was no space industry in the state. And so it started Dr. Terry Shehata kind of thinking about how could we change this. And so he got together a handful of 17 people from the space industry within Maine, and they just spitballed ideas. And what they came up with was this concept of a Maine Space Complex. It had, you know, several other names before that, but that's sort of the latest iteration. And what the complex is really meant to do is to take advantage of Maine's natural geographic location, which is actually a competitive advantage for launch because it hangs out over the eastern seaboard and is an excellent place to launch into polar orbit. So identifying this as a sort of strategic advantage, they decided to move the sort of inquiry forward, which is when I came on board and started developing the Maine Space Complex. So the Maine Space Complex, to answer your question, is a three-legged stool. And it's focused on launch services. So the establishment of the spaceport in Maine. The second piece is data and analytics, so it's taking whatever's downlinking from space, from the satellites and making a service or productizing that data. And then the third piece is an innovation hub, so it would be focused on R&D to spin up more in-state space industry.

>> Alice Carruth: So could you tell me a little bit about the history of how this started, where you're at the moment, and what the next steps are for the program.

>> Emily Dwinnells: We really kicked this off in 2017 is when the idea started percolating. And then I got involved in 2019, which was the initial feasibility study. So if we build it, will they come? And that was really reaching out to -- in industry and saying, you know, what are you experiencing in launch? Is there a backlog? Is there a need? Do we have demands? What does this look like? And where's the industry going? And so we had -- we sort of worked through the stage gate process. That was conclusive. There was demand. So we progressed to the next stage, which was the business implementation planning where we sort of formulated and fleshed out of the business units, the organizational structure, the operating model for the spaceport, and then moved on to the strategic planning piece where we got our, you know, short, mid and near far term objectives outlined. And, from there, today what we're doing is looking through -- into the future of space. What is the future space going to look like, and how do we develop a workforce that will be equipped to enter and contribute out of the gate. So, in the current moment with regard to the space complex, we have just passed legislation in the state of Maine to create a private public partnership called the Maine Space Corporation. And so the corporation is actually just being instantiated. They were sworn in this past week, and they will be taking over at the helm to drive forward the strategic plan.

>> Alice Carruth: Nice. That's what really leads into my next question. Who's funding the idea behind having a space complex in Maine?

>> Emily Dwinnells: So the funding that we've received so far just to do the initial studies has come from two different bodies. So the first one is the Department of Commerce, and they have contributed some to the last two phases. And we also have an in-state sort of risk capital organization called Maine Technology Institute. They have also contributed some funding, as well as the Maine Space Grant Consortium.

>> Alice Carruth: And what's the reaction been like, generally, from the public in Maine?

>> Emily Dwinnells: It's interesting because, you know, initially out of the gates it wasn't very public facing. So most of the reaction we've gotten by and large has been extremely positive. It's been very supportive. People are like, their minds are blown. They're -- so, you know, they're very excited about it. But, as you say, you know, anything to do with space has to be implemented in a safe, very safe and sustainable way. And because of man's ethos, kind of we want the spaceport to represent that, space complex to represent that. So sustainability is actually a really important piece of the way that we will go forward and develop and ultimately operate under that value. You know, when we started, when we went through the bill signing process to initiate and establish the corporation, we started to get some interest from some dissenting dissenters. So we began to see -- I think one of the things that was really interesting to me, something that I completely would never have guessed, is that there are a lot -- a lot of anti nuclear protesters that came out of sort of the woodwork to push back on the legislation. And I think it sort of highlighted the fact that, you know, space has really evolved since the 1960s and '70s, sort of where, you know, most of these people kind of got their grounding and develop their philosophy around the anti nuke stance. And while, you know, there's certainly potential for it to be part of the future of space, it's not as much a military government operation as it once was. Obviously, now today it's very much commercially focused. Yes, the government is still a big piece of it. But, you know, there's concerns about the government military complex taking over when, really, the entirety of our sort of focus right now is on the commercial sector. So there's a lot of misinformation and misinterpretation, some conspiracy around who ultimately will own this. But we have just started sort of reaching out and engaging with the environmental groups, which is another big piece of that. Obviously, as you know, doing a environmental assessment is a big piece. And one of the first pieces of establishing a spaceport is a quite lengthy and pretty in-depth process. So we're not at that stage yet. We're still getting the plans and the location locked down. So we haven't crossed that bridge yet, but we're about to start engaging with the communities in northern Maine that could potentially be homes or sites for the spaceport.

>> Alice Carruth: What are you looking out for the ROI on a space complex up there in the state? You know, what's the benefit to those that are going to be around as residents?

>> Emily Dwinnells:, So yeah. That's a -- that's -- I mean, that's the key question. That's, I think, what we set out to answer, really. And we studied extensively the other spaceports across the US and looked at their financial models and sort of what they brought to the area. And, you know, recently I just read something from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. They estimated that the impact, the economic impact was around a billion dollars a year. So the impact can be pretty substantial. Not all of it is going to be focused in one area. The spaceport, as we've designed it, is geographically distributed throughout the state. So a spaceport might be in the northern part. We would have innovations sort of spread throughout the state but with focus points on the old Loring Air Force Base, which is now Loring Development and then the Brunswick Naval Base, which is Brunswick Landing now. So, you know, it will be geographically distributed, but there certainly will be impacts in the area for the operations of the spaceport. But also, as you know, tourism is a big piece of that.

>> Alice Carruth: So give me your pitch, Emily. Why would a company want to think about Maine as a location for launch or innovation hubs?

>> Emily Dwinnells: I think it offers a number of benefits, I think what Maine really offers is a willingness to work with the companies and give them what they need. It may not all be in the form of chaf writing [phonetic], but it's a really cooperative, collaborative state. It's got a great quality of life and I think the ability to operate in an area that's not highly dense but also has those strategic infrastructure pieces right there. And the New England region actually has a pretty well built out aerospace and defense industry. So it's not just Maine that we're looking at. We're looking at the entire region. And I think that, you know, there's just a tremendous opportunity here. And launch is one of the linchpins. But, you know, data analytics, we just we now have -- were recently gifted $200 million to establish a outpost of the Northeastern University to focus on data analytics, AI, and machine learning, which is located in Portland. So that's a big piece. We've got a pretty great and a well-established materials industry, advanced materials industry in Maine, which obviously goes hand in hand in the space industry and other adjacencies. Actually, Maine is interesting. When we were doing the research, we found that per capita wise, we have more people in the aerospace industry than many other states, you know, percentage wise, based on our population. So there are a lot of capabilities, I think, better in Maine that may not be focused necessarily directly on space right now but are adjacencies, and we can build off of that. We also are really thinking through and very intentional about our workforce development strategy around space. And I think as space continues to grow and the demand for qualified professionals, both trade and, you know, the aerospace engineers and mechanical engineers, I think that's, like, a big piece of the puzzle that we're hoping to offer.

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>> Alice Carruth: Good luck to Emily and Maine as they make big moves in the launch arena.

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The NCAA equivalent of academia concluded on Saturday. I spent the week at the 2023 Spaceport America Cup, watching the brightest minds in engineering from around the world compete at the world's largest student rocket competition. Over 90 rocket launches were held between Wednesday and Saturday at the launch facility in New Mexico. Over 1500 people gathered for the closing ceremony, eagerly awaiting the announcement of who was taking home the Genesis trophy for this year's competition.

>> Male 4: Let me welcome everybody here, along with everyone following the live stream. I'm really proud.

>> Alice Carruth: They had multiple category awards to give out: Best 30,000 foot solid rocket, 30,000 foot hybrid, 10,000 foot categories for solid and hybrid engines, Student Research and Design Components, Best Payload, Team Spirit, and so much more. The Pan American Center basketball arena was electric in anticipation, as each level was announced with runners up.

>> Male 4: And the winner of the 10K commercial off the shelf category [phonetic] is Team 7 from Brigham Young University.

>> Alice Carruth: And it was Brigham Young University that was crowned as the overall winners of the 2023 Spaceport America Cup. So congratulations to BYU Rocketry and others that took home trophies on Saturday. We attempted to speak to the team after the announcement, but the excitement was just too loud. We will be speaking to them later this week, and we'll bring you their reaction. And we will, of course, share all the full rankings once they're published. And if you're wondering about how you can get involved in next year's Spaceport America Cup, you can visit soundingrocket.org and reach out to the experimental sounding rocket association that runs the competition.

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That's it for T-Minus for June 26, 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 this podcast. You can email us at space@n2k.com, or submit the survey in our show notes. Your feedback ensures we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead of 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 mixed by Elliott 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 Alice Carruth. Thanks for listening.

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