<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=205228923362421&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

The race for the Moon’s south pole.

Russia launches its first lunar lander in 47 years. ESA releases a 2023 space environment report. Spire is the latest to post record revenue. And more.





Russia’s Luna 25 lander launched on a Soyuz 2.1 rocket and is expected to soft land at the lunar south pole on August 21. The European Space Agency has released its 2023 space environment report. The French national space agency is seeking partners with BPI France to purchase demonstration missions aboard French microlaunchers. Spire Global achieved its highest-ever quarterly revenue of $26.5 million, up by 37% year over year, and more.

Remember to leave us a 5-star rating and review in your favorite podcast app.

Miss an episode? Sign up for our weekly intelligence roundup, Signals and Space. And be sure to follow T-Minus on Twitter and LinkedIn.


T-Minus Guest

Learn more about the mission of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and upcoming events with AIAA Executive Director Dan Dumbacher.

You can connect with Dan on LinkedIn and learn more about AIAA on their website.

Selected Reading

Russia launches first mission to the moon in nearly 50 years- Al Jazeera

ESA’s Space Environment Report 2023- ESA

France to Fund Demonstration Missions of Microlaunchers- European Spaceflight

Spire Posts Record Revenue, Loss Reduction in 2Q 2023 Just Before Planned Stock Split- Via Satellite 

SpaceX valuation rose by 12%, says fund where rocket launcher is top holding- MarketWatch 

SpaceX launches 22 Starlink satellites, lands rocket on ship at sea- Space

Kratos and Hypersonix Announce Exclusive Teaming Agreement- Press Release 

Telesat Contracts MDA as Prime Satellite Manufacturer for Its Advanced Telesat Lightspeed Low Earth Orbit Constellation- Press Release 

Wichita aerospace company going up for auction. It has worked with SpaceX, Virgin Galactic- The Wichita Eagle 

China's commercial rocket launches seven satellites- CGTN

Taiwan Space Agency enters 2nd phase of CubeSat development program- Focus Taiwan 

If You Did Space Ops, You Could Become a ‘Legacy Guardian’- Air and Space Forces

NASA Announces Round 1 Winners of the 2023 NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge- Press Release 

Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend — but 2028's show might be one for the ages 

T-Minus Crew Survey

We want to hear from you! Please complete our 4 question survey. It’ll help us get better and deliver you the most mission-critical space intel every day.

Want to hear your company in the show?

You too can reach the most influential leaders and operators in the industry. Here’s our media kit. Contact us at space@n2k.com to request more info.

Want to join us for an interview?

Please send your pitch to space-editor@n2k.com and include your name, affiliation, and topic proposal.

T-Minus is a production of N2K Networks, your source for strategic workforce intelligence. © 2023 N2K Networks, Inc.

>> Alice Carruth: Why can't you trust atoms? Because they make up everything. I know, a terrible dad joke to start our Friday show. Atoms join together to make molecules. Take the three atoms that make up water molecules, two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. A single drop of water contains billions of water molecules. And it's what the whole world seems to be searching for on the moon.

[ Music ]

>> Unidentified Person: T-minus 20 seconds to LOA 23. Go for deploy.

[ Music ]

>> Alice Carruth: Today is August 11, 2023. I'm Alice Carruth, and this is T-Minus.

[ Music ]

Russia launches its first lunar lander in 47 years. ESA releases a 2023 space environment report. Spire is the latest to post record revenue. And AIAA Executive Director Dan Dumbacher talks us through the mission of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in upcoming events. On to today's intel briefing.

[ Music ]

The Race to the Lunar South Pole is on. Two nations are currently head-to-head to be the first to perform a soft landing on the lunar southern surface. India's Chandrayaan-3 launched last month. And today Russia's Luna 25 entered the race. The lander was launched by a Soyuz 2.1 rocket and was boosted out of Earth's orbit towards the moon over an hour after takeoff. Russia's Space Chief Yuri Borisov told state television that they expect a soft landing on August 21st. That's just a few days after India's Chandrayaan-3 is expected to perform the same operation.

We should really be saying that Russia is re-entering the race to the moon because we know we've all been here before. The Soviet Union's Luna 2 mission was the first spacecraft to reach the moon's surface in 1959. And the Luna 9 mission in 1966 was the first to make a soft landing there. And the Russians are doing this by themselves again, having had ties severed with ESA due to the war in the Ukraine. The European Space Agency had originally planned to test the navigation camera onboard the vehicle.

Now India and Russia have different objectives with their missions. Chandrayaan-3 is hoping to complete the first soft landing anywhere on the lunar surface for India and will perform two weeks of experiments. The Luna 25, which is about the size of a small car, is planning on spending 12 months on the lunar South Pole.

But they're both hunting for the same treasure; liquid gold. Because although the moon is 100 times drier than the Sahara, NASA found evidence of ice in the South Pole region. And all nations know that the precious resource is needed if humanity is going to progress with exploration outside of our atmosphere. Humanity is poised at the edge of its seat for the next 10 days. Who will be the first, if either, to soft land on the moon's South Pole? Stay tuned to T-Minus as this story develops.

And speaking of ESA, the European Space Agency has released its 2023 space environment report. Most of the information is not new news. We've launched more objects to space than ever in the last 12 months. We need to be more concerned about space debris. Space is congested thanks to new satellite constellations, et cetera, et cetera.

But there is clear information on quantities that should be of concern. Of the more than 30,000 individual pieces of space debris larger than 10 centimeters currently identified, more than half of them litter Low Earth Orbit. The number above one centimeter in size is estimated to be above 1 million. The report also noted that the amount of reentries into Earth's atmosphere is on the rise.

ESA's assisted reentry of the Aeolus satellite was proof that the agency is taking space traffic management seriously, and they're taking it one step further. They've recently introduced a Zero Debris approach with the aim of ensuring that the agency's activities generate no new space debris in valuable orbits by 2030. The full report can be seen in our show notes.

Staying in Europe. And CNES, The French national space agency, is seeking partners with Bpifrance to purchase demonstration missions aboard French micro launchers. Operators can bid on one of three target missions and will be required to perform the launch before 2027. The call is part of the France 2030 program which was launched two years ago. The 54-billion-euro investment program is aimed at transforming key sectors of the French economy through technological innovation.

And continuing with our quarterly earnings report coverage this week, Spire Global achieved its highest-ever quarterly revenue of $26.5 million US, up 37% year over year. Notably, their net loss dropped by 57% from last year to $16.3 million. With a positive trajectory towards profitability, Spire anticipates several financial milestones by 2024. Additionally, they're still planning on a stock split that we previously reported on to maintain their New York Stock Exchange listing.

The Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust says that SpaceX's valuation rose 12% over the last year. Not a huge surprise, really, given its increasing launch cadence. SpaceX launched another 22 satellites to orbit earlier today as part of its Starlink constellation.

Australian aerospace company Hypersonix Launch Systems has announced a new partnership with Kratos Defense & Security Solutions. The Dart AE hypersonic system will use Kratos's Zeus family of solid rocket motors in the US. The Dart AE is a three-meter-long single-use hypersonic platform used to develop, demonstrate, test, and evaluate hypersonic technologies, and for other potential hypersonic applications. Kratos and Hypersonix aims to frequently and reliably deliver an affordable vehicle to the hypersonic community. Who knew I'd say hypersonic so many times on a Friday show?

Space technology company MDA has been contracted to build 198 satellites for the Telesat Lightspeed Low Earth Orbit constellation. Telesat says that the deal is highly cost-effective, resulting in an estimated total capital cost saving for the program of around $2 billion US compared to the company's prior capital estimate. Telesat also announced that Telesat Lightspeed is now fully funded through global service delivery. Taking into account the company's own equity contribution, certain vendor financing, and aggregate funding commitments from its Canadian federal and provincial government partners. The total contract worth was not disclosed.

Leading Edge Aerospace, a Wichita-based tooling and composite company known for producing parts for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity, is set to auction its facilities, equipment, and operations. With a unique resin infusion process reducing prototyping costs by about 30%, the company's assets present an opportunity for interested parties in the aerospace sector. Bidding opens on August 15 and concludes at the end of the month.

Galactic Energy, a commercial launch provider based in China, successfully launched seven satellites, including a groundbreaking satellite, the WonderJourney 1A, which pioneers the integration of artificial intelligence in its core data management functionality. Created by Star Vision, this satellite is set to advance data analysis in orbit, offering use cases from disaster management to oceanic exploration. The launch further solidifies China's expanding role in the commercial space sector.

Taiwan Space Agency is accelerating its 10-year CubeSat project, moving into the second phase that focuses on the creation of twelve 6U standardized CubeSats for purposes including IoT, remote sensing, and communications. With an allocation of $4.56 million for each winning bid, TASA aims to fortify Taiwan's position in the global satellite supply chain and beckon space startups for participation. This advancement follows their successful preliminary phase in 2022, testing the launch feasibility with two 3U CubeSats.

[ Music ]

And that concludes our intel briefing for today. You can find links to all the stories we've covered in our show notes. And we've included one on the Space Force Legacy Guardian Recognition Act and another on NASA's 2023 Entrepreneurs Challenge. You'll find them all at space.n2k.com.

Hey, T-Minus crew, tune in tomorrow for T-Minus "Deep Space", our show for extended interviews, special editions, and deep dives with some of the most influential professionals in the space industry. Tomorrow, we have AIAA's Executive Director Dan Dumbacher talking about the mission of AIAA. Check it out while you're mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, folding laundry, or driving your kids to the game. You don't want to miss it.

[ Music ]

Our guest today is Dan Dumbacher, Executive Director of AIAA. AIAA is a well-recognized organization, but many people are not aware of its full reach. I started off by asking Dan to walk us through what the mission of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is.

[ Music ]

>> Dan Dumbacher: AIAA is the world's largest aerospace professional society, 30,000 members around the world. And our role is to help our members and all of their organizations be successful in the aerospace industry. And we do that by sharing the knowledge, convening all the people to work on problems together, and help celebrate and advocate for what the industry needs.

>> Alice Carruth: That's a really quite broad spectrum of what it is that you're doing at AIAA. And I absolutely love the fact that you really focus on education. Could you talk me through some of the things that you offer for students and education for people that work in the industry as well?

>> Dan Dumbacher: We do a whole myriad of things. We have competitions for students. We have high school memberships. We help the teachers with content. We have scholarship opportunities. And we have competitions like Design/Build/Fly, where university teams come together, too, in a remote control aircraft competition. And we help support other activities like rocket launch competitions, all to help the students learn at the high school-university level so that they become the professionals that we need for the future.

>> Alice Carruth: Which is really important, as we know, for the entire aerospace industry. And certainly, something that I know they're lacking in when it comes to recruiting new people, new blood coming through. Now, AIAA does an awful lot of events throughout the year. Can you talk us through some of the things that are coming up in the next few months and how people can perhaps get involved in those?

>> Dan Dumbacher: Well, the big one coming up in October is what we call ASCEND, Accelerating Space Commerce and Exploration and New Discovery. The idea here is to bring the entire space community together; the civil space community, the commercial space community in the national security space communities. So, that we can work on problems together, understand what everybody's needs are help communicate out what's happening, and tie the technical research to, with the economics and all of the business plans in this emerging commercial space business. And, also, with the policymakers so that we can continue to move forward what the industry needs to help build that cislunar space ecosystem and to help everyone be successful.

>> Alice Carruth: So, you mentioned advocacy, and you were recently named as a member of the new committee set up by the FAA, for commercial human spaceflight rulemaking. Can you talk me through what that committee is going to be looking at and what is it you as the AIAA representative is going to bring to that committee?

>> Dan Dumbacher: That committee is looking at potential rulemaking around human spaceflight from a launch and reentry kind of perspective. It's just getting started. The idea is to do the research and to pull the community's inputs together to help decide or determine what's best for the industry moving forward.

And you see a broad set of industry participants. The FAA is an observer. Other government agencies are also observers. We, from an AIAA perspective, we're involved with this one and at least one other one like it on the aviation side. And we're there to help be that objective voice for all of industry that represents corporate government, as well as academic, the academia world.

>> Alice Carruth: So, the rulemaking committee was really pulled in together because the learning period that was given to a lot of these commercial companies is looking to come to an end in October. We're not 100% sure what's going to be happening with it. What's your opinion about that learning period? Do we think that perhaps it needs to be extended? Or do we think that we've perhaps learned a lot, particularly recently with the cadence built up with the new space flights that are happening right now?

>> Dan Dumbacher: Well, we certainly learned a lot. And now the question becomes as you look forward, and you're trying to figure out what needs to be done to help grow the economic engine, you got to start figuring out if regulation's needed. If so, what type, at what level, at what depth? And there are a lot of questions that have to be answered. And this committee is going to be searching through and trying to address all that.

If I give you a little bit of an analogy, Alice, it's one of the reasons that we have such a successful commercial air transportation system is because we put the time and the effort to learn from our failures. We learned from all of the technical issues with airplanes through, across all the decades. And then, the regulation and the safety that we have engendered into commercial air travel has made it the safest transportation system known to humans. Space is in the early phases of that similar process. And so, we're trying to take the lessons learned, and figure out what the next steps need to be.

>> Alice Carruth: You've had quite an impressive career starting off as a Purdue graduate, I believe, going on to NASA, then going back and working at Purdue before going to AIAA. What are your insights into how much this aerospace industry has grown in the last few years in the last few decades?

>> Dan Dumbacher: It has grown a tremendous amount. If you look at it, I think various numbers, over $500 billion in FY22, commercial business, a lot of that's commercial satellites. But you can see with what's happening with Blue Origin and SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, and all of the growing emerging companies. You can see this opportunity for new markets, new products. The comparison I use with the students of today is when I got out of school, you only had the opportunity to work on Space Shuttle, Hubble Space Telescope, and a few missions. Space Lab, those kinds of things.

Nowadays, we have gone from that situation to where there's the national security space that has grown tremendously. Because of the needs there, it has commercial space companies are growing. And they are developing those new markets, those new launch vehicles. And it's just a tremendous growth. The -- and you actually can see it in the numbers. The aerospace engineering programs, just the aerospace engineering programs around the country, are all growing tremendously. And it's because of the need and the interest.

>> Alice Carruth: Which is also really important, I'm assuming, for national security as well. And we're starting to look at space domain as a new area for us to really be concerned with. What are you finding out from AIAA about that?

>> Dan Dumbacher: We like to approach it from the defense perspective. Hopefully, there is no war in that domain. We know that there are situations that need to be addressed. Things like space debris, space traffic management. And we have a task force set up with that. And that becomes a big part of the ASCEND conversation that we'll have in October like we talked about earlier.

And if you want to build the cislunar space economy, you have to figure out how to manage and coordinate all of the debris that's already in orbit so that people can be -- you can put their products where they want to put their products. And therefore, deliver the services that make the businesses viable. So, we're working on all of that together. And we want to help continue to advocate for the peaceful use of outer space and help build that economic engine all the way to the moon and eventually beyond for the benefit of all humankind.

[ Music ]

>> Alice Carruth: We'll be right back. Welcome back. If you ever needed an excuse to get out of the city, stay up late, and watch the night sky, then you have it this weekend. The annual Perseid meteor shower is at its peak. The waning crescent moon will be just a little sliver that rises late. The sky will be dark, creating the ideal backdrop for the meteor shower's celestial fireworks.

The Perseids happen every summer when the earth plows through a cloud of debris from the Swift Tuttle comet. The bits of comments stuff are tiny and can be as small as a grain of sand. When they hit the atmosphere at high speeds, you can expect a magical light display. The greatest number of meteors can be visible in the early predawn hours of Sunday. We hope you enjoy it as much as we know we will.

[ Music ]

That's it for T-Minus for August 11, 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 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 Elliot Peltzman and Tre Hester with original music and sound design by Elliot Peltzman. Our Executive Producer is Brandon Karpf. Our Chief Intelligence Officer is Eric Tillman. And I'm Alice Carruth. Thanks for listening.

[ Music ]

>> Unidentified Person: T-Minus, done.

[ Music ]

Similar posts

Stay in the loop on new releases. 

Subscribe below to receive information about new blog posts, podcasts, newsletters, and product information.