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In today's newsletter:
🌟 TechStars LA
🏛️ Space council meeting
🗓️ The week ahead
⌛ 60-year anniversary
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National Space Council, Round Two
On Friday, US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about US off-Earth policy as she convened the second meeting of the US National Space Council (NSpC). Broadly speaking, the Harris-led NSpC’s priorities are three-fold:
- Expanding America’s STEM workforce
- Using on-orbit assets to fight climate change
- Promoting international space-faring rules and norms
Then and now…Speaking from Johnson Space Center, Harris recalled JFK’s legendary “we choose to go to the moon” speech, delivered 60 years ago today across town at Rice University.
Harris hailed the success of Project Apollo, and the US’s whole-of-government mobilization in the 1960s to put American boots on the Moon before the decade was out. With Artemis, we’re not only going back, but building the first space station in lunar orbit, staying permanently at the first lunar basecamp, and landing the first woman and person of color on the Moon.
“In the decades since [JFK’s speech], America has orbited Mercury, landed rovers on Mars, and flown by Pluto. We have looked back on our Earth from billions of miles away,” Harris said, and built JWST, “a telescope powerful enough to observe our universe as it was billions of years ago.”
But we’re still early…Still, the VP said, we’re just scratching the surface. “In a very real sense, we have only just begun our journey into space,” Harris said. “There is so much we still don’t know and so much we still haven’t done. Space remains a place of undiscovered and unrealized opportunity.”
Collaboration + competition: In her remarks, the VP also focused on the multilateral aspects of the White House’s space doctrine. Washington must lead on rules and norms that “reaffirm the rights of, and demand responsibility from, all space-faring nations.” Harris called out:
- Eight more nations signing the Artemis Accords, bringing the total to 21
- The US extending its ISS commitment through 2030
- The US commitment not to conduct destructive anti-satellite (ASAT) testing
And something new: Later this month, the US will introduce a resolution at the UN General Assembly calling on other countries to also ban ASAT testing.
Private sector: The VP praised the private sector’s recent contributions to space, and said that over a dozen companies are helping to develop and level up the US workforce. The commercial sector is developing the first generation of commercial stations, can dock satellites in orbit, remove debris, and soon, “will be able to repair and even build new structures while in orbit.”
+ While we’re here: There was a flurry of space policy news on the tail end of last week, so you’d be excused for having missed it heading into the weekend.
- The FCC dropped new draft deorbiting guidelines.
- The Pentagon and Commerce Dept. announced a partnership to cooperate on space situational awareness (SSA), traffic monitoring (STM), and civil/commercial coordination.
- The NTSB and FAA signed an agreement to collaborate on commercial space accidents and investigations.
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TechStars LA Announces Space Cohort
TechStars LA has announced its September cohort. This year, seven of the twelve total companies joining the startup accelerator hail from aerospace.
TechStars: The startup accelerator began in 2019 with the vision of connecting the innovative technology developing as part of the growing new aerospace industry in LA with the DoD. “I saw an opportunity to build something very specifically focused on the aerospace and defense sector,” said Matt Kozlov, managing director of TechStars LA. “Not just to build whatever the Air Force needs, but to bring in commercial, civil and military space into one community.”
Of the first cohort of 10 companies, seven have now raised between $10 and $40M. The accelerator leverages its relationships with the Air Force, Space Force, NASA, and the primes to connect its cohort companies with mentors and help them to find contract opportunities.
The next generation: When picking companies to join the next cohort of TechStars, the team had to stand out. The new cohort came in with strong ideas to fill a need and with the professional backgrounds and heritage to make it happen.
“Not only do I have to like the team and like the overall business, I need at least one of the people we're working with at Space Force, NASA, JPL to say, 'Yeah, that's really compelling. That's technically unique. That's feasible,'” said Kozlov.
The September aerospace cohort:
- Additive Space, which builds aerospace products using additive manufacturing
- Canopy Aerospace, which builds heat shields
- Charter Space, which is building a software logistics platform for satellites
- Fenix Space, which is focused on cheap launch services
- In Orbit Aerospace, which is building uncrewed space stations for in-space manufacturing
- Infiltron, which focuses on cybersecurity
- WingXpand, which builds drones with extendable wings
Catching Up with In Orbit
The founders In Orbit Aerospace, Ryan Elliott and Ishaan Patel, spoke with Payload about the company’s approach to in-space manufacturing. The team closed an $850,000 pre-seed in July and has been focused on testing and validating parts of what will ultimately become its flight system.
Elliott, the company’s CEO, said that the lack of infrastructure for manufacturing in space is the biggest hurdle for getting started. “It's hard to get things out there and it's hard to get things down,” said Elliott.
The big idea: Solving the infrastructure problem for research and in-space manufacturing. The company’s vision is to launch an uncrewed space station, reachable with a reentry vehicle. The system would launch the reentry vehicle on a rideshare with raw materials, dock with the station, conduct its research or manufacturing in zero gravity, and return finished products to Earth.
Long term, the team envisions a constellation of these uncrewed space stations, and launching reentry capsules weekly by the end of the decade.
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In Other News
- Firefly scrubbed Sunday’s launch attempt due to a drop in helium pressure and will try again today.
- Avio reported H1 results of €134M ($135.8M), up 5% YoY, and adj. EBITDA of €5.6M ($5.7M).
- BlueWalker 3 (BW3) successfully launched to space Saturday aboard a Falcon 9. BW3 boasts the largest comms array ever to be deployed in LEO, per AST SpaceMobile ($ASTS).
- AST engineers are “talking” to BW3. The company will run tests for a few weeks before sending a command to BW3 to deploy its spring-loaded antenna, chief strategy officer Scott Wisniewski tells Space.com.
- SpaceX launched 34 Starlink satellites with BW3, setting a new record of 14 booster flights/landings, launching its heaviest rideshare payload to date, and successfully completing its first five-engine-burn mission.
- SLS’s two new tentative launch dates are Sept. 23 and 27.
- CAPSTONE is in safe mode, after encountering an issue on a trajectory correction maneuver that took place Thursday.
The Week Ahead
All times in Eastern.
Monday, September 12: WSBW 2022 kicked off in Paris and runs all week. In Geneva, the UN is holding an open-ended working group on reducing space threats all week. Blue Origin’s NS-23 mission aims to launch 36 research and science payloads suborbitally at 9:30am. After market close, Planet ($PL) will report Q2 earnings. Finally, at 6pm, Firefly will attempt to launch its “To the Black” mission.
Tuesday, September 13: SpaceX is targeting 10:00pm for its next Starlink mission (rescheduled from Sunday). USSF is holding a “reverse” industry day at 1pm in El Segundo, CA, on space mobility and logistics. The event runs through Wednesday. Separately, the US Chamber of Commerce is holding its two-day Global Aerospace Summit in DC.
Wednesday, September 14: The launch window opens at 4:30pm for “The Owl Spreads its Wings,” a Rocket Lab ($RKLB) dedicated launch for Japanese SAR operator Synspective. Foundation for the Future will host its monthly Conversations for the Future event series through Thursday.
Thursday, September 15: The Aerospace Corp. will hold a virtual webinar titled “Space Based Solar Power: Why Now?” at 1pm.
Friday, September 16: The Space Foundation will host James Bridenstine, Carissa Christensen, Patricia Cooper, and Robert Walker at 1pm for its monthly “Space Matters” series.
The View from Rice Stadium
60 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy gave his historic address at Rice University, spurring his nation to keep the faith in the long, difficult race to the Moon.
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because the goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”