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A space segment for the belt and road? Saudi Arabia and China get cozy.

Space Pioneer gets funding. Saudi Arabia and China deepen ties. Bids open soon for a Long March 6. ISRO hands the keys to the private sector. And more!





Space Pioneer gets a series C funding round. Saudi Arabia and China deepening ties. Bids are open soon for a Long March 6 ride. ISRO hands the keys to small-launch over to the private sector. Big cuts in Australian space spending. And for today’s conversation, we speak with Laura Forcyzk, space consultant and career coach, on navigating careers into and within aerospace.

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T-Minus Guest

Laura Forcyzk, Founder of Astralytical, on navigating a career in aerospace.

You can follow Laura on LinkedIn, Twitter, and on her website.

Selected Reading

China launches new satellite to test satellite internet technologies-Xinhua 

Chinese Rocket Company Space Pioneer Secures C-Round Funding for Tianlong-3 Reusable Launch Vehicle- The Science Brief

Saudi Space Agency discusses cooperation with Chinese agencies and businesses- Arab News

Sharing Rockets: China opens first auction for Long March 'carpooling'- CGTN 

ISRO to transfer SSLV to private sector- The Economic Times 

India likely to plan its next moon mission with Japan: ISRO Chief S Somanath- CNBC  

Critics slam Aussie 'brutal blow' to whack $1.2B on space spending- Breaking Defense 

Space Force captain kept US Cabinet officials safe amid Europe crisis- Air Force Times 

Military Times presents the 2023 Service Members of the Year- Military Times 

SpaceX pushes the envelope with record-breaking 16th flight for a Falcon 9 booster- Spaceflight Now 

Exclusive: PE firms, defense companies vie for Ball Corp's aerospace unit- Reuters

Martian dunes indicative of wind regime shift in line with end of ice age- Nature

The dead cat launch- Financial Times

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>> Maria Varmizis: There's a lot happening in space flight in China, and admittedly, Chinese space flight doesn't always get the attention that it should in English speaking media. Let's fix that a bit today, shall we? We have a number of stories and developments in China's commercial and national space flight programs to cover. So, let's give China the spotlight at the top of our show today.

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Today is July 10th, 2023. I'm Maria Varmizis, and this is T Minus.

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Space Pioneer gets a series C funding round. Saudi Arabia and China are deepening ties. Bids are open soon for a Long March 6th ride. Israel hands the keys to small launch over to the private sector. Big cuts in Australian space spending. And for today's conversation, I'm speaking with Laura Forczyk, space consultant and career coach on navigating careers into and within aerospace. You don't want to miss it.

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Let's jump into today's intel briefing, shall we? So yesterday while many eyes here in the United States were perhaps on the latest launch by SpaceX, and yes, we'll cover that too later, meanwhile over at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, a Long March 2C rocket launched an Internet technology test satellite according to the Xinhua News Agency. Details are pretty light on this launch, but an Internet tech test satellite could very likely be related to Guowang or China's sat net, which is China's massive Internet broadband constellation project. More on that in a bit. But as the Long March rocket series continues to be the backbone of launches in China, work on small and medium lift vehicles via private companies in China continue apace as well. Space Pioneer of Beijing just announced its own series C funding round which will go towards the development of its medium lift two stage reusable Tiangong-3 or sky dragon three, which will use kerosene liquid oxygen propellant. The company says the design specifications for this rocket are especially primed to support satellite launches for Guowang, or China sat net as we mentioned earlier. And according to 2020 plans for that constellation, Guowang will have over 13,000 satellites. So, one could imagine that the goal for the Tiangong-3 could be for it to become a satellite launching workhouse like the Falcon 9 is for SpaceX. Now Space Pioneer has been around since 2018 and has already raised over 400 million US dollars over 11 funding rounds since its start. The company may already be familiar to you as back in April Space Pioneer successfully launched the Tiangong-2 liquid propellant rocket to orbital space becoming the first Chinese company to do so. News from Beijing today that representatives from the Saudi Space Agency have met with government officials and business leaders in the Chinese space sector to develop ties between the two nations and to quote, "Further the space exploration agenda." Representatives from Chinese commercial space companies including galaxy space, iSpace, Mino Space, Galactic Energy, and the China Electronic Technology Group Corporation met with the Saudi Space Agency's delegation to discuss possible research and development partnership opportunities in the future. And the last bit of news on space flight in China today. If you are a commercial satellite company in China looking to hitch a ride on the next Long March rocket launch, get ready to bid for your spot. This Thursday, July 13th, CASC is opening up spots on a Tuesday's liquid fueled Long March 6 rocket to commercial partners. But again, it's not a matter of simply paying a fee. It's an auction-based system. Costs for a Long March rideshare start at 80,000 yuan or about 11,000 US dollars per kilo. The Long March 6 can launch to lower orbit or sun synchronous orbits and CASC expects this rideshare launch will occur by the end of this year. Let's shift our attention now to India's burgeoning space program. After working on its own small sat launch vehicle or SSLV service, Israel says it wants the private industry to have it in its entirety. A senior official from Israel said this. "We will be transferring the small satellite launch vehicle completely to the private sector. Not just the manufacturing but full transfer." Israel's SSLV can take up to 500 kilos to low earth orbit and 300 kilos to sun synchronous, and it had a successful launch of several small sats this past February. Given the small payload sizes, the SSLV is meant to offer on demand small sat and nano sat launch services. There's no exact timeline available yet, but Israel says the SSLV will be up for bid to the private sector soon. And we're all wishing the best for Israel's third mission to the moon, the Chandrayaan-3 lunar landing mission which is expected to launch no earlier than this Friday, July 14th. In the meantime, a little bit of follow up on that. In an interview with CNBC, Israel's agency chief, S. [inaudible] is looking to the future and says, "India's fourth mission to the moon, which is expected around 2026, will likely be in partnership with Japan's JAXA to explore the lunar south pole. And now over to Australia. In just a little over a year after launching its own space command, the Australian government plans to cut 1.2 billion dollars from its space budget significantly impacting a program that aimed to launch four satellites between 2028 and 2033. The decision, a reported budget repair move, has drawn severe criticism from the space industry Association of Australia. These cuts, although not from the defense budget, may affect defense capabilities due to the intertwined nature of space infrastructure. The association argues that in a rapidly advancing global space sector this cut could threaten Australia's international reputation and ability to contribute to international efforts in the space domain. The Military Times has released their US service members of the year awards including the US Space Force guardian of the year for the very first time. Space Force Captain Victoria Garcia earned the title. In the face of Russia's assault on Ukraine, Captain Garcia spearheaded an operation to safeguard US satellite networks in Europe. Her 54-member unit tracked 84,000 network events over 3000 hours using an electronic warfare system to ensure the security of the electromagnetic spectrum for US operations. Bravo Zulu Captain Garcia. And we mentioned it briefly in the first story of the show, but SpaceX has successfully launched its Falcon-9 rocket on a record-breaking 16th flight testing the limits of rocketry's ability. The first stage booster completed its mission deploying 22 second generation Starlink satellites before landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic. This particular booster has carried previously a range of missions including the first astronaut transport on a Falcon-9. The original plan for the Falcon-9 first stage reuse was 10 missions. So, 16 is a cool 160% of goal. Not too shabby. Way to give 160% Falcon-9. Reuters published an exclusive on the Ball Aerospace acquisition. Blackstone and Veritas Capital are reportedly vying against defense firms like BAE Systems, General Dynamics, and Textron to acquire the firm. The aerospace unit, representing 13% of Ball's 2022 net sales offers hardware for aerospace and national defense applications and could be worth over five billion dollars. Now if Ball sells the aerospace unit for five billion dollars or more, it could face a substantial tax bill exceeding one billion dollars. Ball Corp aims to offload its aerospace division to concentrate on its beverage packaging operations and reduce its current 10-billion-dollar debt load. The final bids for the unit are expected by the end of July. The potential sale comes amid increased regulatory scrutiny on defense sector deals as seen when regulators blocked Lockheed Martin's attempted acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne this year.

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And that wraps up our intel briefing for today. Stay tuned for my interview with space career coach Laura Forczyk. And hey, T-Minus crew, every Monday we produce a written intelligence roundup. It's called Signals In Space, and if you happen to miss any T-Minus episodes, and we understand if you do, this strategic intelligence product will get you up to speed in the fastest way possible. It's all signal. No noise. You can sign up for Signals in Space in our show notes or at space.n2k.com.

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With the new space economy taking off around the world, there's a lot of interest from folks who might not be in this industry who are trying to make a career shift. We often hear that there's space for everyone in the world of aerospace, but if you're trying to break in that can often seem easier said than done. My guest today has helped many people navigate a career in space and has some great advice for anyone looking to make a career move.

>> Laura Forczyk: We help businesses and government entities and non-profits to grow in space. There has been so much interest in space over the past several years really spurred by both the advances in commercial space, and SpaceX has a lot to do with that. And also, the government interest in going to the moon and doing things in [inaudible] and lunar space and commercial space stations. And there's just been this boom of activity and interest in space. And so, we help companies that are both already in space to figure out how to grow into new markets. And then also companies that are not yet in space, whether they -- well, actually most companies are. They just don't realize it. But when they have this intention of knowing that they want to be in space or whether they never thought about it before, helping them figure out how they can take advantage of this boom in the space sector.

>> Maria Varmazis: I would love to hear more about what maybe these companies are maybe hesitant about or what they are curious about. Maybe the unknown unknowns so to speak if they're thinking about more formally moving into space. What are you hearing?

>>Laura Forczyk: Companies don't really know where they belong because they don't know how much they already rely on space. And our modern infrastructure, everything we do in our modern society runs on space. People just don't realize it. We take it for granted. And so, it's helping people to understand where they already are using space and then where their current activities whether that is a nice sector that you don't necessarily think of being in space or related to space, or whether it is the sector that is tangential where they can grow because there is so much room for growth in the space sector depending on whether they want to branch out with what they're already doing or try something new.

>> Maria Varmazis: What areas are you personally or professionally interested in in the space sector? I mean there are so many different avenues. What really intrigues you?

>>Laura Forczyk: Everything having to do with the emerging US market especially human space flight because that's just my personal interest. I still want to be an astronaut as I did when I was a kid. And so, for me it's picturing how humanity is going to go forward in space, and this is not just government actors anymore. It's also commercial players and the combination between government and commercial. We're seeing more and more government agencies both in the US and outside the US use commercial industry to accomplish their human space flight goals and beyond that space flight goals in general. And so, for me, it's like how do we move human society outside of Earth's surface? And so, thinking about commercial space stations and the way that we use them. My first full time job was actually working on science on the International Space Station. And so, understanding when we move out to many different types of commercial space stations, who are the users and what are they going to do? And then thinking beyond. I mean when I was a kid, my goal was to be an astronaut to the moon. That was the thing I wanted to do, and it is the thing I still want to do. So, it's understanding, first off, these government astronauts that are going with Artemis, what are they going to do and how are they going to accomplish their goals? And in the future, thinking about lunar bases and gateway and other types of commercial space stations that might exist in other places that are not just [inaudible] like around the moon or in [inaudible] lunar, even like launch points. So, the near term is how do you harness what's already happening and put yourself in it to maximize the types of impact that you can have on the plans that are already ongoing? And then the long term is thinking ahead to what those markets might be in the next decade or two.

>> Maria Varmazis: That's fascinating. So, that's the organizational point of view. Say you're a person who is looking to transition into the space industry and they believe they have some transferable skills but they're not sure. It's kind of an intimidating market to break into. At least as an outsider. It just seems that way to me. What advice do you give people who are looking to figure their way in there?

>>Laura Forczyk: Yes. Thank you for asking. I've been doing space career coaching for the past six years. In fact, I'm the only space career coach that works with high-level professionals. And so, a lot of the [inaudible] professionals like yourself that come from outside the space sector, they think there's a barrier. They think that they have to be at a certain level like inside or outside perspective, when in fact, you and others have these skillsets that the space industry desperately needs. We are [inaudible] in space. Traditionally it has been a very isolated industry. And so, we really need the fresh perspectives and skillsets that come from outside the space sector in order to grow and innovate and mature. And so, you and others bring perspectives that the space industry uses to then grow. And so, I tell people don't think that you need to go back to school unless you truly want to or that you don't belong or that you need to undersell yourself. You actually are really, really valuable as you are right now, and I do offer space career coaching services if anyone wants to reach out and ask me how they belong in space.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yes. What are common barriers that you are seeing people encounter maybe and then hopefully overcoming in their job search?

>>Laura Forczyk: Quite often it really is a mindset shift where people think that they are an outsider and therefore they think they need to go back to school or apply only to entry level roles, or they think that they're not worthy. They self-reject, and that tends to be something that I need to work on with a lot of my clients is understanding where they're coming from and what value they give, and then helping them with that internal and external messaging so that they can explain to themselves and others what value they have in the space sector. What value they can bring to the table. And then making sure that they are taken serious when they are applying for jobs or networking.

>> Maria Varmazis: That's so important. And to me, I've been not in this world that long, but I've been noticing there's sometimes like a cultural -- not culture clash necessarily but there's sort of a perception of folks who've been in the industry for awhile almost versus those who are sort of on the newer side maybe coming from the traditional tech world and that sometimes people don't necessarily speak the same language even though they have the same goal in mind. So, it sounds like if I'm understanding this correctly some of it is a matter of that mindset shift of you can find a way. You do the long, but maybe you need to adopt a different language or figure out how to position yourself in a slightly different angle.

>>Laura Forczyk: Exactly. This is the same with individuals and it's the same with businesses or organizations where you have to speak a common language. I'm not talking about English. I'm talking about being on the same page with what the goals are and what the results are that you want to have. And so, for some people that might just be accomplishing something that's already been going on, and that you know you can do better. For some others it might be accomplishing something that's never been done before and making sure that you're all on the same page about how that is going to happen and what that might look like for the future.

>> Maria Varmazis: What are the differentiators that companies should be positioning themselves with in order to find that home in space so to speak? I mean if I'm thinking of a traditional software company that's trying to move to providing some sort of space-based solutions, are there maybe things from the text that are seen as a red flag in space? I'm trying to think of those cultural indicators that might be misconstrued in the space world.

>>Laura Forczyk: A lot of times people don't know what they don't know. So, it's asking around to potential customers what they are lacking, what they still need, and also understanding where the competitors are currently in terms of their technology, in terms of their market reach, and understanding where you fit. Where's your company's niche? What is that specialty that you bring to the table? So, to use your example with software, cybersecurity is a huge problem in space. It is becoming even larger, and most companies just are underprepared when it comes to cybersecurity solutions whether that is on the ground, with receivers, or data processing, or up in space with their satellites that they launch. And that is an area where, I think, the tech sector really needs and has an opportunity to come into the space sector and say, "We have these cybersecurity solutions," just as an example, and, "You can benefit from this because all these other companies on the ground terrestrially have been benefitting here, and here's how you are going to suffer if you don't protect your data or protect your IP," or whatever it happens to be.

>> Maria Varmazis: Is there any advice that you give not just to companies but also to individuals for maybe if they're looking to level up for lack of a better term, or to make that transition into a space role if they're coming from some other field? So, I know you mentioned thinking about themselves and not self-selecting out. Is there anything else you find noteworthy to tell people?

>>Laura Forczyk: Many individuals and companies they are so into the weeds in what they do, which is fantastic. That's what we need for specialized services and products, but they don't necessarily understand the big picture. And so, a lot of times they really need an outsider's perspective that knows the bigger picture of the industry or understands where the industry is going, and that's really where an expert outside source, whether that's my company Astralytical or me personally with the space career coaching can help you to identify where you fit within the broader sector. So, understanding where your expertise, where your specialized skillset has the most value and can make the most impact and get you the most customers of your company or get you the most attention if you're an individual who's trying to get into the space sector.

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>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back. Welcome back. Now we started our show with some news from China's space flight program, and today we're also going to close out with some cool science courtesy of China's Zhurong Mars rover. Yes, Zhurong fell silent last year and there's fading hope that it might be revived, but in the meantime, it collected some fantastic high-resolution imagery in 2021 and 2022 on the red planet that scientists are still pouring over. And a study just published in the journal Major says, "Zhurong, with the help of the Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter, has solved a long-standing mystery about unique sand dunes found all over Mars. These puzzling sand dunes are specifically called transverse alien ridges or TARS. No, not the robot from Interstellar. TARS in this case are dark crescent shaped ridges on the top of dune fields. But TARS appear to be at a different angle than the massive dunes that they sit upon. Now thanks to Zhurong which was able to get a closer look at some TARS, [inaudible] from the National Astronomical Observatories of the China Academy of Sciences led the team of researchers on the study, says that they can now confirm that the change in the morphology and [inaudible], in other words the structure and chemical compositions of the dunes, was due to a change in the planet's rotational axis at the end of the last Martian ice age around 400,000 years ago which then also changed the prevailing wind direction. This was long suspected to be the case, but getting up close and personal with these dunes was key to confirming the hypothesis there. Better understanding how climate changed across time on Mars will help us better understand how climates can evolve for planets in general across [inaudible]. Thanks to Mars research we no longer have a sample size of one for up close planetary studies like this."

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And that's it for T-Minus for July 10th, 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 the show notes. Your feedback ensures that we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in the rapidly changing space industry. We are 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 Eliot Peltzman and Tre Hester. With original music and sound design by Eliot Peltzman. Our executive producer is Brandon Karpf. Our chief intelligence officer is Eric Tillman, and I'm Maria Varmazis. Thanks for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.

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