Good morning. We’re excited to announce our three judges for the inaugural group of Payload Pioneers: Rob Meyerson, former Blue Origin president and current CEO of Delalune Space; Kim Crider, former Space Force CTO and founding partner of Elara Nova consulting group; and Justin Johnson, a former Pentagon space official and current EVP at Metrea.
Be sure to look for our list of 30-under-30 space stars hand-picked by our judges in mid-October!
🔮 Project Clarity
⛽ Spaceium x Nyx
💸 The term sheet
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How Space Can Get a Piece of the Infrastructure Pie
Spaceport America in New Mexico. Image: Spaceport America
AIAA will unveil a plan today that would help space organizations get access to a slew of federal economic development resources typically available to other infrastructure services such as airports, seaports, and highways.
Project Clarity, which was drafted by AIAA’s Cislunar Ecosystem Task Force, will urge the government to say unequivocally that space projects shouldn’t be disqualified from federal help just because they involve space, said Bob Brumley, senior managing partner of Marble Arch Partners and co-chair of the task force’s communications work group.
The task force is preparing to officially release a white paper this afternoon at the Global Aerospace Summit hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce, who is a partner in the effort.
“The distinction between economic development as activities pursued either on Earth or in space is very likely meaningless, as both key terrestrial and space infrastructures are inextricably interdependent,” reads a copy of the white paper shared with Payload. “The success of federally-backed economic development in the 20th century—highways, air transportation, education, medicine, among others—strongly indicates that space economic development will yield benefits for Americans in the 21st century.”
Project Clarity: The idea is to treat space the same as any other sector, officials said, meaning spaceports would be eligible for the same programs or benefits as other infrastructure.
“As we talk to our member companies on the Space Industry Council, they need greater and more diverse access to capital besides just venture…and beyond…just NASA and DoD,” said John Neal, executive director for space policy at the US Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve been thinking about other ways to tap into government resources to provide greater access to the space industry just like any other area of infrastructure.”
The effort falls under AIAA’s broader Cislunar Ecosystem Task Force, in which several dozen participants from business, academia, and NGOs are examining how to extend Earth’s economy to cislunar space.
Key stakeholders: The organizations have already pitched their ideas to the administration on an “education tour” that included OSTP, OMB, and the National Space Council, Brumley said.
“They expected us, I think, to start talking about [how] the government is not doing enough,” he said. “We didn’t have that view. Our view is that [the] government…had all the resources it needed. What it did need was clarity.”
Next steps: The white paper urges OMB to release clarifying guidance saying that otherwise qualified funding requests shouldn’t be disqualified just because they involve space—a change that could make a big difference for the industry, but wouldn’t require a legislative fix, Brumley said.
The white paper is also asking for similar guidance from the Administrative Conference of the United States, and is urging the Congressional Research Service to study how space infrastructure projects fit into existing federal economic development programs.
But there are also some efforts on the Hill seeking to ensure space infrastructure receives the same treatment as its terrestrial counterparts. For example, lawmakers are considering introducing a bill that would make spaceports eligible for tax-exempt municipal bonds under the IRS tax code in the same way that airports are, Neal said.
A Partner in Propulsion
Reliable propulsion is the key to a successful launch—and essential to assuring US access to space. But today’s vertically integrated space industry has made rocket engines notoriously difficult, crucially undercut by supply limited to outdated or foreign technology. A competitive US launch industry requires an innovative propulsion supply base.
Enter Ursa Major, with additive manufacturing methods that optimize engine performance, reliability, and production speed.
At Ursa Major, the country’s leading propulsion technologists gather for one purpose: to deliver tangible solutions to our industry’s biggest challenges. The result is reliable propulsion for the next generation of launch vehicles that meet the critical demand for access to space.
Exclusive: Spaceium and The Exploration Company Partner for In-Space Servicing
Spaceium, a startup building in-orbit pit stops for interplanetary missions, is teaming up with The Exploration Company on a demo mission to refuel a spacecraft in orbit.
The two companies are betting on a future in-space servicing economy, and their missions and timelines mesh well.
Spaceium is heads down designing and building a refueling, charging, and debris storage station prototype with a modular architecture to launch next year, and The Exploration Company’s Nyx craft, which is also targeting a demo flight in 2024, is designed to gas up between months-long trips around Earth or the Moon. It’s a match made in…space.
The partnership: Spaceium and The Exploration Company announced this morning that they have signed a bilateral letter of intent to demonstrate cryogenic refueling using Nyx and the planned orbiting service station.
The station would be stocked with cryogenic bio-methane and oxygen.
The two companies have also agreed to use Nyx as a host for a servicing module in 2026.
The exploration continues: Nyx has big plans in store. The Exploration Company announced Tuesday that it signed an agreement with Axiom Space to use Nyx to supply a cargo mission to the company’s planned space station.
After the capsule’s demo flight next year, The Exploration Company has a few more flights planned. The first operational flight to and from Earth orbit is targeting 2026, and the company is targeting the capsule’s first flight to the Moon and back two years later.
These Speakers Will Be At Our Investor Summit. Will You?
The Payload team is excited to announce our next lineup of speakers for our Space Investor Summit on Nov. 8 in Los Angeles.
Kirk Konert, Partner at AE Industrial
Frank Finelli, Managing Director at Carlyle Group
Chris Celtruda, Operating Executive at ATL Partners
Payload's Space Investor Summit will bring together a select group of leading institutional investors, policy makers, and space industry executives from around the world to network, discuss market trends, explore tangible investment opportunities, and offer a forum to engage in constructive, future-forward dialogue.
This event is intended for senior-level institutional investors, space executives, and government and military officials only.
Here are the top government opportunities for space companies this week, as compiled by our partner TZero.
🛰️ Space Force has an RFI out with updated Q&A seeking to rapidly integrate government payloads onto a mature spacecraft bus. Responses are due Sept. 18.
💫NASA HQ has released an Announcement of Opportunity for the 2023 Astrophysics Probe Explorer (APEX) mission. Responses are due Nov. 16.
🌍NOAA’s NESDIS Commercial Data Program is hosting an Industry Day on Nov. 16 in Silver Springs MD. Requests to attend are due Oct. 20
Additional opportunities and details can be found in the TZero Space Tracker, which is now offering new lower pricing and a one-month free trial.
In Other News
Ax-3 has a crew and is approved by NASA for a launch to the ISS as early as January.
Stoke Space completed a static fire of its reusable second stage rocket and announced it will attempt a hop.
PLD Space is now targeting October for the next Miura 1 flight attempt.
Blue Origin is aiming to fly its suborbital New Shepard tourism rocket again next month.
Rocket Lab ($RKLB) has begun testing Neutron’s second stage tank for structural integrity.
The Term Sheet
Manastu closed a $3M pre-Series A led by Capital 2B, BIG Capital, and E2MC to continue testing its propulsion system, including the first on-orbit tests and demonstrations (via Payload).
Open Cosmos raised a $50M Series B to support the company’s push into an international market. The round was led by ETF Partners, Trill Impact, and A&G. (via Payload).
Astra ($ASTR) is looking to raise $100M.
The View from Space
New Zealand’s Egmont National Park, along with Mount Taranaki, a stratovolcano that rises 8,300 feet above sea level, was spotted from the ISS on Sept. 7.