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We still choose to go to the moon.

The UK Space Agency outlines future activity. Turkey and UAE strike deals to include space cooperation. PlanetiQ lands a $59 million NOAA contract. And more.





The UK Space Agency has released a space exploration technology roadmap outlining future activity and funding for the next decade. The United Arab Emirates and Turkey have signed several deals estimated to be worth $50.7 billion US dollars that included coordination on space programs. China launched four weather satellites aboard a Kuaizhou-1A carrier rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest for today’s show is Robert Aillon, founder of Leviathan Space Industries.

You can connect with Robert on LinkedIn and find out more about Leviathan Space on their website.

Selected Reading

Space Exploration: Technology Roadmap- UKSA

Turkey's Erdogan signs $50 billion in deals during UAE visit- Reuters

China launches more Tianmu-1 weather satellites atop Kuaizhou-1A rocket- CGTN

SpaceX launches 15 Starlink satellites to orbit, lands rocket at sea- Space.com 

PlanetiQ High Quality GNSS-RO Data to Be Used by NOAA to Save Lives and Improve Our Environment With Superior Weather Forecasting and Atmospheric Research- Business Wire

SPACECOM Prepared to Defend U.S. Assets- National Defense Magazine

NASA's TROPICS Offers Multiple Views of Intensifying Hurricanes- NASA

NASA Selects ASRC Federal for $320 Million Maintenance and Engineering Contract- PR Newswire

Aramco and OQ Technology Strengthen Ties with New Technology Connectivity MoU- OQ Technology

In race with China, Pentagon must prioritize speed in acquisition- Breaking Defense

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>> President John F. Kennedy: We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon.

>> Maria Varmazis: Today is International Moon Day. And, in the US it's also Space Exploration Day, a commemoration created by President Reagan to mark the first crewed landing on the moon. Now, it's been 54 years since Apollo 11 landed on the moon. And although we haven't returned humans to the moon since 1972, it remains the goal of most spacefaring nations to get there again. It's exciting to be living in a second space race, isn't it?

>> Unidentified Person: T-Minus 20 seconds to LOA. Go for the floor. Today is July 20, 2023. I'm Maria Varmazis, and this is T-Minus.

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The UK space agency outlines future activity for the next decade. Turkey and the UAE strike deals to include space cooperation. PlanetiQ lands a $59 million NOAA contract. And our guest today is Robert Aillon, founder of Leviathan Space, on Ecuador's signing of the Artemis Accords. Stay with us. And now let's take a look at today's Intel briefing. The UK space agency, or UKSA, has released a space exploration technology roadmap outlining future activity and funding for the next decade. The objective of the 51-page document is to identify areas of existing strength and underdeveloped technologies to be used in future space exploration missions. It follows the first meeting of the newly reinstated National Space Council that was held on Wednesday. Now, the meeting saw ministers discuss space policy, including ambitions to become Europe's leading provider of small commercial launch by 2030. The new National Space Strategy in Action was also announced during the meeting, and it outlines the UK Space sector's progress since the launch of the National Space Strategy in 2021, all this as the United Kingdom plans to establish more regional space clusters and a review of space regulations to boost effectiveness and innovation. UKSA says that this roadmap will act like a brochure for the future, helping to catalyze investment and provide the international space industry with a guide to UK capabilities and ambitions. It also outlines the UK's plans for lunar exploration because, well, isn't that the theme for today? And, specifically, it talks about the UK's plan for the gateway, which they hope will be the base for lunar surface activity. The document also includes some robust ambitions for autonomous vehicles and AI, and the UKSA says it has received nearly 1 billion pounds in investment in these areas from supporting agencies. Although this document lays out what the UK hopes to achieve over the next decade, the agency has said that it intends to publish supplementary roadmaps in the coming years. We look forward to seeing what's next. The United Arab Emirates and Turkey have signed several deals estimated to be worth a total of $50.7 billion during a visit by President Tayyip Erdogan to Abu Dhabi. According to state news agency WAM, the agreements included an extradition accord; energy and natural resources development; coordination on defense; and, most notably for our show, space. Both nations have made incredible progress with their space programs in the recent years, and it'll be interesting to see who they select to launch their assets to space in the coming years. And while most of us were sleeping, at least in the Western world, anyway, there was a flurry of launches in the early hours across the globe. Let's start with China, who launched four weather satellites aboard a Kuaizhou 1A carrier rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwest of the country. China says that the satellites will be used to provide commercial meteorological data services as part of the Tianmu 1 satellite constellation. And SpaceX set out in January with the ambitious plan to conduct 100 missions by the end of the year. And last night's Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base marked its 48th launch so far. It was a bit of an anticlimactic launch thanks to the fog on the West Coast, but the rocket successfully transported another 15 Starlink satellites to orbit, despite the cloud coverage. SpaceX has permission to loft 12,000 Starlink satellites and currently has about 4,500 in operation. They have applied for approval to deploy another 30,000 on top of that, though, so we expect the launch cadence to pick up to meet their goals. Earth observation company PlanetiQ has been allocated a $59.6 million contract to provide signal-to-noise ratio GNSS radio occultation data to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. The five-year contract was awarded under NOAA's IDIQ II, Operational Delivery Order II. PlanetiQ will provide NOAA with commercial satellite data for weather forecasting and atmospheric research. The company's growing constellation of satellites are capable of profiling the thermodynamic state of the atmosphere with very high vertical resolution, precision, and accuracy in all weather conditions. This also provides them the unique ability to profile the water vapor down to the surface, 80 percent of which lies within 1 kilometer of the surface; and it fuels severe weather and flooding. And it wouldn't be a T-Minus Daily News roundup without at least one brief mention of the US military. And today it seems that the theme of threats from adversaries in space continues to make headlines. General James Dickinson, who's Commander of Space Comm, said at an Aspen Security Forum Panel that the US is ready to defend space assets. When speaking about China and Russia, General Dickinson said, quote, It's important to understand that we've got some competitors up there that are developing and demonstrating capabilities. That should cause us a bit of concern, end quote. You can read more of his remarks in the National Defense Magazine article, which we've linked for you in our show notes. And now on to our favorite satellite acronym, TROPICS, which is short for -- brace yourself -- Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats. Whew. And T-Minus covered the launch of these small hurricane hunters when they lifted off in New Zealand back in May, and it seems that they're growing up and now delivering their very first data. The microsatellites have collected their first view of hurricanes, offering scientists a new tool for understanding the inner workings of storms over shorter time spans. In late June, they monitored hurricane Adrian as it developed near the West Coast of Mexico before it steered away from land. And then came Beatriz, which developed into a tropical storm. Both observations provided important data which NASA says will help scientists to better understand how storms will evolve. ASRC Federal has been awarded a five-year $320 million contract to perform repairs, operations, maintenance, and engineering -- and that is an acronym known as ROME -- at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. ASRC is tasked with keeping the launch facilities up to date and the lights on in the science labs so that NASA can focus on the critical mission of furthering science through space exploration. The contract begins on August 1 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and Wallops Flight Facility, including US Naval Operations on Wallops Island, Virginia. Luxembourg satellite company OQ Technology has signed a new technology Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi oil and gas company Aramco. Under the new agreement, OQ Technology will expand satellite IoT services and solutions for connecting Aramco's intelligent Integrated Node technology. The companies say that the agreement will create investment opportunities by converging automation and connectivity technologies, driving value creation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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And that concludes our daily Intel roundup. But, as always, we've included further reading in our show notes. And we've even included an op ed from breaking defense on the Pentagon's acquisition process in light of keeping up with adversaries in the new space race. You can find all that and more in the Links section of our show notes at space.n2k.com. And, hey, T-Minus crew. If your business is looking to grow your voice in the industry, expand the reach of your thought leadership, or recruit talent, T-Minus can help. We'd like to hear from you. Send us an email at space@n2k.com or send us a note through our website, and we can connect about building a program meet your goals.

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Our guest today is Robert Aillon, founder of Leviathan Space Industry, which is working to develop a space board in Ecuador for private commercial use. I was interested in asking Robert about his involvement in Ecuador's signing of the Artemis Accords, so I asked him to walk me through what the process was like to make that happen.

>> Robert Aillon: We started five years ago. My career was focusing in banking. And at the time when I left that, I was trying to see what can we do with technology to help the productivity network to improve its competitiveness, you know, its economic development. Because one of the things that you see in developing nations is, they're always developing, but there's no end date of when that's going to happen. So I was trying to see what can we do with technology to have a profound effect, and I definitely saw that space definitely touch every aspect of a local economy, from agriculture, communications, education, manufacturing, logistics. So then I said, okay. Let's take advantage of this. Looks like a great moment, you know, because the commercial sector is lifting. And the new players are going to be definitely looking for people who can provide great services. So this is an opportunity. Maybe we can fit into this space supply chain. So as you know, Ecuador's geographic position, it's very unique. And I think it definitely offers something very meaningful of the market [inaudible], in case of access to communications, launches, you know, the biodiversity and attractiveness of Ecuador from each geography, it's something that it's -- it can be very meaningful for the future. And starting now, we have to be ready for that. The first thing that we did was form the company, Leviathan Space, thinking about the spaceport as the center. What can drive this in Ecuador, having these ecosystems develop. And then we saw the need for institutional developments, that we needed the institutions to get the people involved, get a voice, get people excited about this. And that's why we decided to open up the Guayaquil Space Society so that young people will be able to have that path of involvement, of activism. And we reach out to the National Space Society. They approve a chapter for us. It was the first of Latin America that was available. So it was very exciting for us to be able to generate events, invite astronauts to participate like Greg Johnson, that came over to this in Ecuador, and then getting the universities involved with their students. And, through that, we definitely saw that we need to have a closer relationship to the space community. And the government needs to be very involved. So we have been advocating for the last two years so we could have Artemis as something that we can aspire to. We were able to talk to different government officials about the particulars of Artemis. With that, we were able to drive a conversation into a very important lobbying effort. We took a very educational approach of engaging actors in the community, all the stakeholders, talking in this case to the universities; talking in this case to industry folks from the private sector; talking to the government officials in the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Relations and trying to drive that message. The timing also helped us, I think, because Ecuador has been going through a lot of changes in the last couple of months. And now there was opportunity to show a positive message, something good, something that can definitely benefit the community. And I think that's what, when we have our conversation with Minister of Foreign Relations Gustavo Manrique telling me about what it entails to join arms and what were the benefits for Ecuador in this case in the long-term, to be more part of the community, drive the conversation, have a seat at the table. He was very excited. And we then -- I was able to tell him, well, you're going to be going to Washington next week to talk about the [inaudible] for the Galapagos and do other things. Let's try to put it on the agenda. And, to my surprise, he said yes. So, for us, he was very positive. So now we can definitely say that we're starting a path with Artemis that opens up a world of opportunities for Ecuador. And that's, I think, the most important part that we want everybody to consider, you know, that you can be more and that you can be a participant and you can lead. And I think that's so important because what happens with our industries, you know, agriculture, bananas, shrimp, coffee, cocoa, in this case, rice fresh flowers, how can they play a role in space, you know, to support the astronaut missions? How does the diverse ecosystem in Ecuador can help maybe astronaut training. Maybe we can have the NASA astronauts come down to Ecuador and participate and scale one of the volcanoes and go to the jungle or do scuba diving and do part of that. And last year, you know, Jared Isaacman [inaudible] inspiration for another Polaris mission, he brought the Polaris mission astronauts to train to Ecuador. So there's definitely opportunity for that to continue.

>> Maria Varmazis: And all these fantastic examples of the different applications for space, I'm so impressed. And I admire the work that you and your teams did to keep pushing through the points where it's often things will just kind of peter out, for lack of a better term, because that's where it gets really difficult. And you made it sound so easy, but I know it was a multi-year process. And I'm wondering if you have any advice for anyone else who may be in a similar situation as you went, if they're trying to advocate for maybe their country joining the Artemis Accords or maybe just trying to get a space program running and running into the bureaucracy, the politics, that kind of thing, like any advice you have for folks like that?

>> Robert Aillon: The most difficult part is always for the community that is not space savvy. And they do not understand the benefits or the technology, how it impacts. So that's the hardest part to do. And that's where we definitely need to be prepared to elaborate the right not only topics but the right arguments, to be able to show what it means for them and how they benefit and how it impacts them because everybody asks, and how much is this going to cost me? And how does it affect me. How much work does -- it's going to put on my table? And that's where we have to drive the conversation about technology is going to help you. It's going to make you more competitive, you know. This is not going to, in this case for the private sector, it's not going to cost you anything right now. But what it does is opens up technology, opportunity for research, opportunity for collaboration, opportunities for branding new products. And I think that's really important for them to start making that click.

>> Maria Varmazis: Absolutely. Making things relevant is always the key challenge there. In your view, what's next for Ecuador in terms of space? There's a lot of different interesting programs. I know Leviathan Space, your company, is certainly part of that. Can you give us a sense of what -- like, what's next?

>> Robert Aillon: So we definitely think that it's important to have everybody ready. And the question is, what does that mean? So we reached out, and we formed a great relationship with a MILO Space Science Institute from Arizona State. And they developed a program for NASA for workforce development. So now they're working with local universities to implement programs, one of them is going to be focused on the moon and space and one that is going to be focused on Earth observation because that's what Ecuador needs in this case. How do you monitor the forest? How do you monitor the crops? How do you balance environment with the development of the cities. And that's a little data and information that needs to be captured, processed, analyzed, interpreted, and then make the final decisions. So that's a big hole in this new development is, great. We have to technologies. But who's going to use it, and how that's going to drive benefit for the business leaders or government efficiency. So that's really exciting for us right now that MILO was able to sign an agreement with the American Chamber of Commerce, with the University of San Francisco de Quito, with a small university,

[ Speaking Native Language ]

and we're going to have a visit from Space Foundation because at Space Foundation they have very great program for STEAM education for primary and secondary. So what we'd like to do is develop this pipeline from all the young students getting excited early on about what space and science can do for them. And that's what we want to show the young people here in Ecuador that, you know, you have to be ready because the world is changing. You're not going to only compete in your local neighborhood, in your local city, in your country. You're competing against billions of people around the world for what is happening right now. And the local companies also need to be aware of these high rapid changes in technology, about how they can leverage that to the benefit. And that's how we're starting and we're promoting because we definitely want to emphasize the use of research, education, you know, how we can go ahead and apply that for our crops, for diseases. Like in the case of the banana plants, there's a fungus that definitely provide a lot of harm. So there's a lot of opportunities there to see because, in this space, you know, it's such a wonderful laboratory to do science because the conditions cannot be replicated on Earth. And you can learn so much there. And then the goal of having the spaceport in Ecuador, which is to provide a place for Latin America to have space access. And I think this is really relevant because this definitely could be the most important project for the region in the next 100 years because imagine what it would mean for Latin America to have access to space in a meaningful way, commercial, private actors participating, driving this growth, and then thinking what would happen in 100 years if we did not have that, how the local dynamics of the whole region can change. And one of the examples that I started thinking of is what would happen, for example, to our city in Guayaquil? Guayaquil is a big dynamic trading spot where the board system has allowed it to develop through history, you know, connections to trade across the region. And that allowed the banana sector to develop, the shrimp sector to develop, cocoa and other food export that drive great part of the export economy. If we wouldn't have a seaport, that we wouldn't be able to develop this. And I think the same applies to a space [inaudible] will allow the new generation of entrepreneurs to come up with things. But if they do not have the infrastructure, they won't be able to leverage that for their success.

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>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back. And welcome back. And for today's closing item, did you know that 54 years ago Apollo 11 landed first man on the moon -- okay, yeah, yeah. I know you knew that. So, for today's closer, I wanted to give a shout-out to two of my favorite projects about the Apollo 11 moon landing. They both let you relive the entire Apollo 11 mission from beginning to end, the whole experience in real time. For those of us who weren't alive then or just weren't there or weren't paying attention, until someone invents a time machine, anyway, these projects give you such a great sense of the Apollo 11 mission, the chatter, the mission minutiae, and how long everything really took. If you only go to one website today, it should be apolloinrealtime.org. It features Apollo 11, 13, and 17 missions. But, I mean, I'm listening to Apollo 11 today. Every bit of text and audio-visual data related to this mission replays for you in sync in real time in a very context rich display. And, of course, you can replay any and all of it whenever you want, in case you happen to miss it. The website is a massive undertaking by Ben Feist, who works on data visualization and informatics software at NASA. And it's really excellent work so kudos to Ben. And if you want kind of a TLDR version of the Apollo 11 mission as a play by play, you can get one on Twitter. There's a neat project by the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum on Twitter called Relive Apollo 11. And, yeah. That's the Twitter username also, @reliveApollo11. In 180 characters or so, you're getting updates on the Apollo 11 mission on your timeline, just like as if NASA's Twitter account had actually existed in 1969. And can you imagine if it did.

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And that's it for T-Minus for July 20, 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 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 Maria Varmazis. Thanks for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.

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>> Unidentified Person: T-Minus done.

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