The Downlink

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Our coverage of the chilly space investment climate continues, but from the perspective of the U.S. Space Force’s Commercial Space Office, which has the responsibility to find and foster some of the new commercial space technologies the Department of Defense needs. Laura Winter speaks with U.S. Space Force Col. Richard Kniseley, who is the Senior Materiel Leader leading the COMSO, about what the office does, the current venture capital environment, and what COMSO tools space entrepreneurs can leverage to find capital investment.

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It’s chilly and not just outside. Investment in space companies is down by almost a third compared to this time last year, with investor sentiment for space applications companies being downright icy. But Accenture, the publicly traded international technology consulting company is not just saying it’s bullish on the future, it’s actively making deals in space applications. Laura Winter speaks with Paul Thomas, Accenture’s Managing Director and Space Innovation and Technology Lead; and Accenture’s Aerospace and Defense Practice Lead, Craig Gottlieb.

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SpaceX just attempted a second flight test of its 28-stories-tall Starship space launch system. If Starship, an American-made rocket and spaceship, becomes operational, experts believe it will open up the space domain to travel and commerce, much like the railroad did for the American West. China is not standing idly by. Laura Winter speaks with the authors of the book “Scramble for the Skies: The Great Power Competition to Control the Resources of Outer Space”, Namrata Goswami and Peter Garretson.

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Manufacturing and Assembly, or ISAM, technologies to be a whole of nation effort that includes the civil, commercial, defense space sectors and academia. This would mean the routine use of robots to provide life extension services to spacecraft, and to build structures great and small in space. Laura Winter speaks with the U.S. Space Force lead for ISAM, Maj. Gen. John Olson to find out just what the service branch is bringing to the effort; and Greg Richardson, who is the executive director of NASA’s ISAM consortium COSMIC.

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The United States and Australia just signed, what is in effect, a treaty that softens U.S. sovereign technology regulations and opens up Australia’s economy to the U.S. commercial space industry. The agreement could also force Australia’s Minister of Industry and Science Ed Husic to reverse the deep cuts he made to Australia’s sovereign space programs. Laura Winter speaks with Malcolm Davis, Senior Analyst in Defence Strategy and Capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

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This week’s episode is about the Republic of Korea’s push to get a seat at the same table as other major space-faring nations, to secure its people from North Korean missiles and the nation’s economic future. South Korea is the seventh nation to use its own natively developed multi-staged rocket to launch into orbit a satellite weighing at least a ton, yet despite being a staunch U.S. ally located in a tricky region, collaboration in space and space security is new. Laura Winter speaks with Sam Wilson, Senior Policy Analyst for the Center for Space Policy and Strategy at The Aerospace Corporation.

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This week’s episode is coming from the Space Information and Sharing Analysis Center’s Value of Space Summit in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It explores the future threats commercial and government actors need to prepare for when the at least half-dozen human-rated commercial space stations become operational in the next decade. Laura Winter is joined by Jason Aspiotis, Director, In-Space Infrastructure & Logistics, Axiom Space; and Samuel Visner, the just named Space-ISAC Board Chair and Fellow at The Aerospace Corporation.

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This week’s episode features Orbit Fab. Don’t let the cute name fool you. Starting with the space-equivalent of a gas cap, this company has caught the attention of the U.S. Space Force, the Defense Innovation Unit, and the National Reconnaissance Office, in the form of multi-million-dollar checks. Laura Winter speaks with Orbit Fab’s Co-Founder and CEO Daniel Faber about how he plans to build critical energy and chemicals infrastructure in space for defense and a permanent off-world economy.

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