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In today’s newsletter…
📰 Q1 news roundup
🎤 Vyoma Q&A
📝 The contract report

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  News Roundup: Q1 2022

Space activity was up and to the right in the first three months of the calendar year. From now on, we’re going to be pulling together a quarterly roundup of the biggest news from the commercial, civil, and military space. 

January

NASA started the year off with a bang by delivering JWST, the most powerful (and expensive) space telescope ever made, safely to orbit about a million miles away. The agency also formalized the White House decision to extend ISS operations through 2030 and awarded 12 launch services contracts to the biggest names in launch.

Payload’s fundraising coverage: Atomos Space raised $5M and Radian emerged from stealth, announcing its spaceplane ambitions and a $27.5M seed round.

February

A month of firsts:

  • Astra announced it would receive the first Part 450 license from the FAA, a streamlined launch license for all space launches. 
  • The company also attempted to launch from Cape Canaveral for the first time, but failed to deliver its payloads to orbit. 
  • Lynk demonstrated satellite-to-phone connectivity without any add-on receivers.
  • Jared Isaacman and SpaceX announced the Polaris Program, a series of crewed missions with ambitious goals.

Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne officially broke off their acquisition deal after antitrust regulators at the FTC stepped in to block it.

Payload’s fundraising coverage: Wyvern secured a $4M investment, E-Space raised a $50M seed round, Aerospacelab raised a €40M Series B, and SkyFi raised $7.2M.

Moscow fires the first salvos: When Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, satellite imagery suddenly rose to the forefront of OSINT. A Russian cyberattack caused Viasat internet to go out in Ukraine. The US and EU imposed heavy sanctions on Russia that reached the space program, yet the partnership between NASA and Roscosmos on the ISS carried on. 

March

War continued into its second month in Ukraine. EO and geospatial analytics companies quickly rose to the challenge of meeting the Ukrainian government’s need for satellite imagery, supplying Ukraine, allied governments, and humanitarian groups with satellite data that revealed the tolls of war. On the broadband front, SpaceX and Iridium sent terminals and satphones/push-to-talk devices into Ukraine.  

In other news: Tomorrow.io called off its SPAC merger, citing “market conditions.” Astra reached orbit for the first time. Biden finally signed the FY22 federal appropriations bill into law. And NASA announced that it will solicit new concepts for a second Human Landing System contract.

Payload’s fundraising coverage: CesiumAstro raised a $60M Series B; Slingshot Aerospace raised a $25M Series A-1; Synthetaic raised a $13M Series A; and Pixxel announced a $25M Series A.


PRESENTED BY PAYLOAD

Payload job board

Looking for your next move in the space industry? Check out the Payload Job Board, where we’ve curated positions across job functions from top industry players. If you’re a hiring manager looking to list positions with us, get in touch.


A Q&A with Vyoma

As mentioned yesterday, we recently sat down with Stefan Frey, cofounder of Vyoma Space. The European company won the Startup Space pitch competition at Satellite 2022 last week. We went the distance in this conversation. Topics included… 

  1. The logarithmic distribution of debris 
  2. Why space-based telescopes could be a gamechanger for collision avoidance
  3. On-orbit processing and AI training data
  4. How Vyoma and Privateer complement one another, but also where they’d compete
  5. GEO operators as “responsible stewards”
  6. Key orbits at risk 

…and much more.

Here’s the link to the full interview on our site


In Other News


  • The SEC
    has proposed rules that could significantly crack down on SPACs. Live look at some space companies right now: 😰😰😰.
  • Hubble has broken astronomy records by observing light from the most distant individual star ever seen.
  • Redwire (NYSE:RDW) will report Q4/full-year 21 results today after the bell. 
  • In addition, the space infrastructure developer said an independent investigation found “no material misstatements or restatements of previously filed financial statements.” The investigation was opened due to “potential accounting issues at a business subunit.”

The Contract Report

  • The University of Toronto’s Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) has won a contract to build three more GHGSat satellites.
  • SpiderOak signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to provide cybersecurity software.
  • SES ordered a software-defined geostationary broadband satellite from Thales Alenia Space.
  • SES also partnered with NorthStar to develop space situational awareness data products.
  • Comtech will supply SES with antenna systems for its second-generation MEO O3b mPOWER gateways. 
  • Canvas GFX partnered with Voyager Space Services to provide access to its visual communication platform, Canvas Envision. 
  • PickNik Robotics is collaborating with Sierra Space on exploring robotic autonomy solutions. 
  • SCOUT, a startup developing autonomous spacecraft software, signed an agreement with USSPACECOM covering “space situational awareness (SSA) services and data.” 
  • Slingshot Aerospace won a $25.2M contract from USSPACECOM and SpaceWERX to build out its Digital Space Twin product for government use.

The View from Space

ISS photo tweeted by Mark Vande Hei
Via Mark Vande Hei

Mark Vande Hei, who just returned from space, tweeted this photo with the caption: “Fantastic place, occupied by amazing people, working for all of humanity. I’ll forever cherish the memories of serving on the International Space Station. Now, though, I’m thrilled to be back on Mother Earth!” 

If we had just spent just shy of one year 254 miles above Earth, we’d probably say the same. Congrats on a great run in space, Mark!