The Downlink

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This week’s episode is about a potentially disruptive group of thruster technologies that are already being used by space agencies and on U.S. Space Force, DARPA, and other Department of Defense space missions. These thruster technologies are green – better for the environment and humans – and give more real bang for the buck. Could they displace highly toxic gas fuel Hydrazine, which may soon be banned in Europe, but upon which an entrenched thruster industry relies? Laura Winter speaks with Benchmark Space Systems’ Executive Vice President For Business Development And Strategy Chris Carella; Dawn Aerospace Co-Founder Jeroen Wink; and Benchmark’s Propulsion Chemist and Propulsion Engineer Sammy Graham.

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Welcome to a “weird” New Year! Most publicly traded space companies are listed on the NASDAQ, which shed a third of its value in 2022. Add to that the highest interest rates in 15 years and dire predictions that at least some of the world’s economies are headed into recession. Yet, the space economy keeps on growing, with new predictions saying it will be worth $10 trillion by 2040. What’s going on here? Laura Winter speaks with Chris Quilty, founder of Quilty Analytics; Pacôme Révillon, CEO of Euroconsult; George Pullen, Chief Economist at Milky Way Economy; and Ryan Brukardt, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company.

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This week is the U.S. Space Force’s third birthday. While a lot has been accomplished over the past 12 months, there is a lot more yet to do to make the service branch truly independent and first for purpose. This episode’s guests also reveal what they think were the biggest developments for space, in space, or from space for earth in the past year. Laura Winter speaks with Peter Garretson, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, coauthor of “Scramble for the Skies The Great Power Competition to Control the Resources of Outer Space”; Chris Stone, a senior fellow for space studies at The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, and the author of “Reversing the Tao: A Framework for Credible Space Deterrence”; and Stephen Melvin, who has been involved military space operations in a variety of roles inside and outside of the government for years.

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What can we learn from the start of President Xi Jin-Ping’s third term at the helm of the Chinese Communist Party? What we know is that he has frozen out the old guard and elevated leaders from China’s space and aerospace sectors to the highest party and government positions. To unpack just what the era of Xi has in store for the space domain and international security, Laura Winter speaks with Malcolm Davis, Senior Analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute focusing on space policy, security, strategy, and capability development; and Namrata Goswami, independent scholar on space policy and great power politics, Faculty Associate at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and co-author of the book “Scramble for the Skies”.

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Ursa Major is betting that its one and only product line – 3D-printed rocket engines – will not only disrupt how rockets are manufactured but lower costs for budding launch companies and the Air Force Research Laboratory. What also makes Ursa Major special is where it prints its engines – Youngtown, Ohio. The city has seen some very hard times since the closure of many of its steel mills in the late 70s and early 80s. Nevertheless, it making name for itself in the space economy for its advanced manufacturing of the 3D printed kind.

Laura Winter speaks with Jesse Blacker, Ursa Major’s Director of Government Business Development, and with Barb Ewing, the Youngstown Business Incubator’s CEO.

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