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Q2 reports roll in for Intuitive Machines, Astra and AST SpaceMobile.

Q2 reports for Intuitive Machines, Astra and AST SpaceMobile. Planet closes Sinergise acquisition. Rocket Lab signs a double launch deal with NASA. And more.





Intuitive Machines says their IM-1 lunar lander is complete and will be prepared for delivery in September with a launch date set for November. AST SpaceMobile says the first five of its BlueBird satellites are fully-funded with a planned launch in Q1 of 2024 with a plan to offer initial commercial service 3 months after launch. Astra announces the first 4 shipments of their Spacecraft Engines out of their manufacturing facility as well as the completion of a Service Readiness Review for Astra's Space Force STP-29B mission, and more.

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T-Minus Guest

Our guest today is Bryce Kennedy, President of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals (ACSP). 

You can connect with Bryce on LinkedIn and find out more about ACSP on their website and their bootcamp at space.n2k.com/ACSP.

Selected Reading

Intuitive Machines Reports Q2 Financial Results and Expected First Lunar Mission Launch Date- Intuitive Machines

AST SpaceMobile Provides Second Quarter 2023 Business Update- AST SpaceMobile

Astra Announces Second Quarter 2023 Financial Results- Astra
Planet Closes Sinergise Acquisition- Via Satellite

Astrobotic Building a 3D Lunar Surface for Testing & Research- Astrobotic

Rocket Lab to Launch Climate Change Research Mission Focused on Arctic Ice Caps for NASA- Rocket Lab

Viasat Real-Time Earth Opens Ground Station in Japan- Viasat 

Roscosmos plans to participate in International Astronautical Congress in 2023- TASS 

No response for now from other states to join orbital station project — Roscosmos- TASS 

Vast Names New CEO and CTO- Via Satellite

Orbex Appoints Lesley Still as Chief of Spaceport Operations

Intelsat Completes C-Band Spectrum Clearing for 5G Deployment 

The Space Force Is Launching Its Own Swarm of Tiny Satellites- Wired

Europe forced to turn to Elon Musk’s rockets in the global space race- The Telegraph

Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center

Meteorite that crashed to Earth 3,500 years ago carved into arrowhead by Bronze Age hunters- Space.com

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>> Alice Carruth: If you've been listening this week, then I've been harping on a little bit about the new space Moon race. I forgot to mention that the battle was not only heating up between the countries but also between commercial companies. Japan's Ispace failed at their first try earlier this year. Other companies like Firefly Aerospace and Draper have their own landers heading out in the next couple of years. Astrobotic has announced that they're building a simulated test bed ahead of planned lunar missions. And watch out, world, Intuitive Machines have set the date for their first mission to the Moon.

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Today is August 15, 2023. I'm Alice Carruth, and this is T-Minus.

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Intuitive Machines, Astra and AST SpaceMobile released second quarter financial reports. Planet closes its acquisition of Sinergise. Rocket Lab signs a double launch deal with NASA. And our guest today is Bryce Kennedy, president of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals. You don't want to miss it. On to today's intel briefing. Q2 financial reports have been dominating the headlines for the last few weeks, and we had Chad Anderson from Space Capital on the show last Thursday to give us an overview of the industry. Yesterday saw another wave of reporting, notably from three different companies: Astra, AST Space Mobile, and Intuitive Machines. So let's dive into the news, shall we? Intuitive Machines led with a launch date for their first lunar lander mission, set for November of this year. The company's CEO said, "Our lunar lander is complete and will be prepared for delivery in September." The company has secured a launch window from pad 39A, preserving a six-day lunch window starting on November 15th. The company has spent the last quarter focusing on the final assembly of the IM-1 lunar lander, which will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9. As for their financial results, well, it looks like a mixed bag with a lot of winds to come. They reported second-quarter revenue of $18 million, driven primarily by three NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative contracts within the company's lunar access services. They also reported an operating loss of 13.2 million versus 2.2 million in the prior year period. AST SpaceMobile also led with positive company updates, focusing on their achievements with space-based 4G LTE cellular broadband capabilities for everyday smartphones. AST SpaceMobile says it will now focus on the manufacturing of its BlueBird satellites. The first five satellites are fully funded, with a planned launch in Q1 of 2024 and a plan to offer the initial commercial service three months after launch. The company has also announced that its raised cash and liquidity of up to $179 million, with a comprehensive financing package of non-diluted debt and equity designed to support their strategic investment process. AST SpaceMobile needs around 90 BlueBird satellites for its planned 5G broadband service, which they will use their new funding for. Telefonica also announced that it's preparing to run a trial of AST SpaceMobile's BlueWalker 3 satellite in rural parts of Colombia. The test will be carried out in two unspecified regions of Colombia, where Telefonica has no mobile coverage at present, according to the chief technology officer at Telefonica Hispanoamerica. Astra announced delays, job cuts, and the relocation of 50 of its engineers earlier this month. So we weren't expecting the best for their Q2 financial reports. The company's CFO said on the earnings call that they continue to reduce operating expenses, including a 52% decrease in G&A expenses quarter over quarter. Astra expects additional savings of approximately $4 million per quarter starting in Q4 based on the reallocation of resources announced earlier this month. As a result, the company is expecting further reductions in quarterly cash burn throughout the remainder of the year. Astra did report some good news, announcing the first four shipments of Astra spacecraft engines out of their Sunnyvale spacecraft engine manufacturing facility, as well as the completion of a service readiness review for Astra's Space Force STP-S29B mission. Another company that reported cuts earlier this month was Planet. But the Earth observation company finally has some good news, as it's closed on its acquisition of civilian-based Sinergise. The purchase was announced in March of this year and Planet plans to use the Sinergise technology to enhance its Earth observation platform. Planet says that its business is growing, but it cut its growth forecast for the current fiscal year from 35% year-over-year growth to 20%. I mentioned at top of the show that Astrobotic has announced that it's building a simulated lunar surface for testing and research. The company has started work on a 100 by 100 meter, high fidelity, 3D test field that will mimic the typography and optical properties of the Moon's surface. This simulated site, called the Lunar Surface Proving Ground, will be used for a variety of test campaigns, from precise lunar landing technologies like lidar scanners and navigation algorithms to lunar rovers and other robotic systems. Astrobotic says the facility will be used for simulating the extreme lighting conditions encountered at the lunar poles -- that coveted area that everyone is racing to reach. Things keep looking up for Rocket Lab. The company has announced a double launch deal with NASA to deliver the agency's climate change research-focused mission, PREFIRE, to low Earth orbit next year. Both missions will be launched by Rocket Lab's Electron vehicle from the company's launch complex in New Zealand. The PREFIRE mission, which stands for Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment, aims to give researchers a more accurate picture of the energy entering and leaving Earth. The mission consists of two, 6U CubeSats with a baseline mission length of 10 months, and is jointly developed by NASA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Viasat has inaugurated a real-time Earth ground station in Hokkaido, Japan, for Ka-band payload data to downlink services. Collaborating with Infostellar, the Tokyo-based ground station as a service company, this location streamlines mission-critical data delivery across the Northwestern Pacific. Viasat's proficiency in Ka-band, which offers three times the download capability compared to the conventional X-band, positions it as a front runner for LEO missions globally. Their expanding RTE Ka-band network, currently in Sweden, Ghana, South Africa, and Australia, is set to branch out to Alaska and Argentina next. After skipping the International Astronautical Congress in 2022 due to visa issues, Roscosmos, Russia's space state corporation, intends to attend the 2023 event -- a major annual space gathering. Russia has been a member of the International Astronautical Federation since 1993. In somewhat related news, Roscosmos has received no confirmation from countries to join its Russian Orbital Station project, their follow on space station in low Earth orbit, despite offering BRICS nations, African countries, and Belarus opportunities for dedicated research modules. Roscosmos put out the call for participants last month leading up to the BRICS Summit in South Africa. In light of the many BRICS nations investing heavily in space activities and technologies, it's an interesting point that Roscosmos has received crickets on their partnership proposal. It seems no one really wants to play with the sad bully in the playground. And some executive moves to wrap up the intel briefing today. Vast, a space habitation tech firm, has reshuffled its leadership. Max Haot steps down as CEO, while founder Jed McCaleb becomes board chair. Notably, Alex Hudson, an ex SpaceX executive known for the Crew Dragon spaceship, joins as Vast's inaugural CTO, amplifying their crewed spaceflight expertise. UK-based Orbex has enlisted aerospace veteran Lesley Still as their chief of Spaceport Operations. As Orbex nears the UK's first mainland vertical rocket launch, Still will direct operations at Sutherland spaceport, leveraging her four decades in aerospace. Her immediate focus: securing the spaceport license and ensuring seamless collaboration with local stakeholders. With Orbex Prime's inaugural launch on the horizon, this appointment emphasizes the company's commitment to community engagement -- a major risk for the spaceport operations at Sutherland. That concludes our briefing for today. You can find links to further reading on all the stories we featured in our Show Notes. We've also included a few extra, including Intelsat's announcement that they've completed its C-band spectrum clearing for 5G deployment, and a link to the Space ISAC's artificial intelligence and machine learning community white paper on Machine Learning Security Operations. You can find it all at space.n2k.com. And hey, T-Minus crew, if you're just joining us, be sure to follow T-Minus Space Daily in your favorite podcast app. And also do us a favor, share the intel with your friends and coworkers. Here's a little challenge for you. By Friday, please show three friends or coworkers this podcast. A growing audience is the most important thing for us, and we'd love your help to be part of the T-Minus crew. If you find T-Minus useful, please share it so other professionals like you can find the show. Thanks, it means a lot to me. Our guest today is Bryce Kennedy, president of the Association of Commercial Space Professionals, known as ACSP. Bryce has been on T-Minus before and wants to bring us some updates on ACSP, including details from their last boot camp. Our host, Maria Varmazis, started off by asking Bryce to talk a little about what happened at the event and what was learned from it. And if you're curious about ACSP and their upcoming boot camp, head over to space.n2k.com/acsp to learn more.

>> Bryce Kennedy: It grew out of a need that we saw where basically we see there's three points of failure in the commercial space industry. There's tech. There's financing, which any startup has to go through. And then the third component especially with space is regulatory hurdles. And so we chose to focus on the regulations and training people to a multiple level degrees that they can then bypass the traditional gatekeeper of rights -- which are attorneys, the agencies themselves. They're nebulous. They're archaic. People don't know how to navigate them. And it's really become a burden on our innovation in the industry. So we decided to put on a boot camp back in March in New Mexico. But what was really interesting is we had two really distinct groups of people. We had the old guard that had been in the industry for years that are now in business development roles. So they moved away from their old jobs, whether it was as an attorney or whether it was engineers or what it was. And now we're seeing them move into these BusDev roles, which are helping startups. So they now need to know this grand scope of the regulatory framework for space. And then on the opposite end, we saw new space actors. Startups, yes, but really it was this group that I'm really excited about as I see them enter the industry. They're young. They're ambitious. I'd say they probably range between 25 and 35. They have an incredible amount of responsibility in these new organizations. They're being thrown into the fire immediately. And with our boot camp, they were able to kind of have this leg up where they normally wouldn't. So from that, we developed ACSP and really kind of pivoted the mission to focus on those two groups.

>> Maria Varmazis: That's an interesting pivot. So I'd love to hear about any maybe case studies that came out of the boot camp. I'm sure there are great stories like that, if you could share some.

>> Bryce Kennedy: The two biggest -- and the attorneys might come back at me for this. But the two biggest hurdles we'll just say that I see are expert controls and FCC licensing. And it's one of those things that pretty much need to know for every space startup. And like I said, to me, it's such a shame because people in the industry have so much to do and so much to focus on, on this incredible journey that is already just a herculean effort. To waste time to understand the regs or to navigate them is one thing. So we had a lot of the people just at the surface level, they didn't even know which agencies to speak to. They didn't know the timeline that it would take for, say, an FCC Part 25 license would be two years. They didn't know that it actually costs $200,000. They didn't know these basics because -- it's not their fault. It's just the information is so difficult to find and understand.

>> Maria Varmazis: Yeah, like where would you find that [laughing]?

>> Bryce Kennedy: So those were some of the big takeaways that we saw. A lot of people were just starting from the beginning was really incredibly helpful for that group. And then kind of building on that.

>> Maria Varmazis: That's awesome. And you mentioned also that, after the boot camp, that ACSP sort of pivoted its mission. Can you talk a little bit about that? That's interesting to me.

>> Bryce Kennedy: We were really focused on startups. And we thought that we would have a lot of CEOs come, a lot of, you know, C-suite level people. And we did. We had about a third. But I'm noticing more especially I guess the way that the industry is for jobs -- I don't want to say it's more siloed, but people are engaging not under the corporate umbrella or the company umbrella that I thought they would. It's they're doing it for themselves. They're bringing it to their work, but they're really focused on the success of themselves and the mission that they are engaged with. So I was kind of in the old mindset of, oh, they want to do this for the company. But I find that, you know, in space, there's not a corporate ladder. Maybe there is in some industry in the primes. But there's not a corporate ladder. And so you really have to be bought into space if you're going to do it. Because it's a ridiculous proposition. It's silly, it's just so silly to be able to jump into that. And so what I notice is people who came to the boot camp are really, really driven, they're really, really passionate. And so now that's why we opened up our membership. We focused on the individuals as opposed to the company as we originally thought. Which to me is so much more rewarding.

>> Maria Varmazis: That makes a lot of sense given how people have to move around. Like one company might fail and then you go to another one to try it, to iterate on that. That makes a lot of sense. There's going to be another boot camp coming up. So are sort of those changes going to be reflected in the structure of the new boot camp? I'm curious how that will go from there.

>> Bryce Kennedy: We decided to do a September 6th boot camp in Washington, DC. A, because we have a lot of our constituents in DC. And, B, because, kind of what I said before, we have this broad idea of democratizing access to space, we want to be able to get there. We're focusing on the regulatory aspect. We're broadening that out slowly but surely. But regulatory is our niche right now. And from the first boot camp, we realized, oh, wow, we focused we thought on a pretty niche subject of the regulatory aspect in trainings. But we realized we're missing one step. And the first step is the breaking down which agencies to speak to, having industry insiders navigate the pitfalls, the blind spots, how do you speak to, you know, agencies. And so we kind of assumed that that was already baked into industry knowledge. It's not. And so this one is addressing that issue. And so we have some really cool people that have signed on for this one-day event. We have Karen Shuttleworth, formerly of SpaceX, FAA. She is just an industry beast. I mean, what we try to focus on with our instructors is that they're in the trenches, they've been in the trenches, they're still in the trenches, and that they can bring the most insight to our community as possible. We have deputy CFO of NASA, talking about the navigation of that behemoth of an organization. We have Laura Cummings, of Astroscale. And she's going to talk about FCC ITU. Then we have Mike Vernick of Akin Gump Law Firm. And he is just a policy wonk. He helped write Space Policy Directive 2. So the whole boot camp is based on navigating space law and policy from a DC perspective. Which, again, everyone kind of needs to know, unfortunately, or fortunately.

>> Maria Varmazis: There's an event coming up about government contracting. So, again, this is the nuts and bolts of how it all gets done. And maybe it's not like the sexiest headline in the world, but, again, it's how things happen [laughing].

>> Bryce Kennedy: I know.

>> Maria Varmazis: Can you tell me a bit about that?

>> Bryce Kennedy: Sure. You're so right. I like shiny objects. I like sexy. It's funny because, every time we try to steer towards the sexy, it doesn't really move the deal. Okay, let's go back to the basics, let's go back to what works. And government contracting is it. I mean, I think government still is 70% of the industry backing. So you've got to know it, it's one of those things. And we're having Kelly Couple from EGIS come on. And she is just an amazing of her knowledge of government contracting. And she breaks it down. Again, I'm all about pathways. You know, if there's not a clear pathway of how to get from A to Z, then that's one of ACSP's really, you know, core missions. And so that's what that webinar is going to be. And the other thing that we really try to open up is ask me anything or questions. Because some people just need one or two questions answered to help move things forward. They don't have the money necessarily to pay an attorney $500-$1,500 an hour. They don't have 20 hours to spend looking for the answers. So that's why we do these, so people can come on and just ask direct questions that are relevant to their business. And again, we're focusing on a very niche effort right now to systematize, advocate, train on regulatory fronts. And then we're broadening out. So if anyone in the industry that is looking for pathways, that is looking for a hub of knowledge, of network, please check out ACSP. We're always taking suggestions. We're agile purposely. We pivot quickly. And the more that we can have really driven people that are passionate about space as a part of ACSP, the better we all are.

>> Alice Carruth: And as a reminder, you can learn more about ACSP and their boot camp at space.n2k.com/acsp.

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And we'll be right back. Welcome back. We all have different definitions of what is cool. I'd argue being a rockstar guitarist and astrophysicist like Brian May is the pinnacle. But I'd also argue that a Bronze Age weapon made out of a meteorite is also pretty high up there. Imagine life back then, 2000 years BC. They had skills. Metalwork had really developed in Europe. In the Stone Age, flint was shaped and used as tools and weapons. But in the Bronze Age, stone was gradually replaced by bronze, and apparently meteorite. An arrowhead originally discovered in the 1800s in Switzerland has recently been reanalyzed, and scientists say that it's made from a meteorite that landed on Earth 3,500 years ago. Testing has revealed that the arrowhead not only contained aluminum 26 isotopes that don't naturally occur on Earth, but also traces of iron and nickel alloy consistent with meteorites. Further testing has revealed that the meteorite used in the Swiss arrowhead matches the material found at a meteorite site in Estonia, located more than 1,400 miles away from where the arrowhead was found. Imagine the stories that artifact could tell.

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That's it for T-Minus for August 15, 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 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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