Skip to main content
Pathfinder

Pathfinder

By Payload Space

Pathfinder is Payload’s flagship podcast covering the booming business and pressing policy matters of space. We sit down weekly with the top shot-callers in space to keep you informed, entertained, and up-to date on the top news and trends beyond Earth. In this ~1 hour, talk show-style podcast, Pathfinder host Ryan Duffy interviews astronauts, administrators, founders, CEOs, military minds, policymakers, and more.
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Spotify Logo

Spotify

Currently playing episode

American Dynamism: a16z's Katherine Boyle on A&D investing, dual-use tech, and space optimism

Pathfinder

1x
Pathfinder #0031: Jim Bridenstine talks NASA, Artemis, and commercial space
Pathfinder #0031: Jim Bridenstine talks NASA, Artemis, and commercial space
In Pathfinder #0031, we welcome Jim Bridenstine on to the Pathfinder podcast. Jim was the 13th administrator of NASA, and under his leadership, the US launched the Artemis program, our new human lunar exploration mission. During Jim’s watch, the US also returned to launching its own astronauts to orbit from US soil (with SpaceX). Today's episode is brought to you by Altek Space, a custom manufacturer of essential parts and components for rockets and satellites. Jim’s bio will be familiar to most space buffs in Payload and Pathfinder’s audience, so in our convo, we dig a bit deeper on his backstory, get a status report on Artemis, and take a closer look at his current roles in the commercial space ecosystem. A sneak peek Serving as a US Navy aviator; landing on aircraft carriers; and TOP GUN…real life vs. the movie Jim’s involvement in the Rocket Racing League and his time at the helm of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium Serving in the US House as a representative of the 1st District of Oklahoma (and his HASC and SST committee membership) Working with an office of “space knuckleheads”—Jim uses that term endearingly—and honing his aerospace policy chops while on Capitol Hill Why going to the Moon vs. going to Mars was once an either-or, partisan debate on the Hill Jim’s time leading NASA, architecting the Artemis program, and His post-NASA space involvement (which includes advisory or trustee roles with Voyager, Viasat, Phase Four, The Aerospace Corporation, Firefly, and Acorn Growth Companies) This is our longest show to date and for good reason. We had a lot of ground to cover, and yet we still didn’t get to Pathfinder’s planned segment about boots on Mars. Check out the episode and let us know what you’d want to hear in a Part 2. • Chapters • 02:54 Guest intro 03:11 Jim's office photos 03:37 Top Gun inspiration 04:50 Does it surprise you the Navy wouldn't let Tom Cruise fly a jet? 06:29 Journey into aviation, experience in the military, and using space assets in combat 13:41 Rocket Racing League 22:07 Trying to bring one of the Space Shuttles to Tulsa 24:55 Time as an elected official 31:51 American Space Renaissance Act 37:05 Difference between approving NASA funding and running it 42:48 Moon vs. Mars - why was it either-or and at times partisan? 45:23 Why we should outsource some space functions to the private sector 48:26 Artemis vs. Apollo 54:32 Artemis I splashdown 56:29 Advising space companies and organizations 1:06:00 2022's biggest space story 1:09:36 Worried about a shakeout in space markets?  • Show notes •  NASA's Artemis program — https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis/ American Space Renaissance Act — https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4945/text Firefly — https://payloadspace.com/firefly-production-ramp/ Phase Four —https://payloadspace.com/phase-four-production/ Rocket Racing League — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_Racing_League US return to space — https://payloadspace.com/netflix-releases-return-to-space/Ryan's Twitter — https://twitter.com/Ryandoofy — & LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/rfduffy/ Payload's Twitter — https://twitter.com/payloadspace — & LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/company/payloadspace/ • About us • Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand built from the ground up for a new age of space exploration and commercialization. We deliver need-to-know news and insights daily to 12,000+ decision-makers across commercial, civil, and military space. 
01:16:41
January 17, 2023
Pathfinder #0030: A New Take on Satellite Broadband with Astranis CEO John Gedmark
Pathfinder #0030: A New Take on Satellite Broadband with Astranis CEO John Gedmark
For his first Pathfinder podcast of 2023, Ryan took a field trip to San Francisco to visit the 120,000-square foot digs of Astranis. Today's episode is brought to you by Altek Space, a custom manufacturer of essential parts and components for rockets and satellites. Find out more at https://www.altek-inc.com/space For the uninitiated, Astranis aims to build small, cost-effective GEO satellites that will beam targeted chunks of broadband service down to under- or unconnected parts of Earth. The company got its start in 2016 and graduated from Y Combinator’s winter batch the very same year. Two years later, Andreessen Horowitz (or a16z) wrote its first check to a space startup when it led Astranis’s Series A. The space internet startup would later go on to raise $250M from the likes of BlackRock, Baillie Gifford, and Fidelity (i.e., blue-chip growth investors). In the coming weeks, the satellite unicorn is preparing to launch its first MicroGEO satellite into a geostationary orbit roughly 22,000 miles above our head. That first MicroGEO bird will provide Alaskans with a significant connectivity boost. The company has a lot more cooking, Astranis CEO and cofounder John Gedmark tells us on today’s episode. Along with Arcturus, its Alaskan satellite, Astranis plans to launch four more on a Falcon 9 later this year. As we saw firsthand, Astranis is ramping up production and satellite testing at its sprawling facilities, which have housed World War II ship makers, Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, and now, software-defined satellite makers During our Pathfinder recording, Gedmark also broke some news about a key executive that Astranis recently hired. Read on for more. What else did we discuss? The value of GEO vs. LEO, bringing connectivity to Machu Picchu, buying an entire Falcon 9 rocket, use cases for space-based internet, geopolitics…and plenty more. Before we let him go, John also shared his personal 2023 goal, an under-the-radar sci-fi rec, and a very fun fact with us. If nothing else has convinced you that this is a must-listen convo, come for the visuals. This is Pathfinder’s first video recording in 4K HD—and there’s a full-sized MicroGEO model satellite situated behind Ryan and John throughout today’s episode. Chapters 1:10 - Guest intro 2:01 - Astranis HQ 4:58 - Vocab 7:52 - Why GEO? 13:01 - Applying to YC 17:31 - The best Demo Day story you’ll ever hear 21:43 - Tech stack 27:13 - Engineering tradeoffs 29:50 - Business model 35:48 - Launching with SpaceX 40:40 - A big new hire 46:52 - Threat surface in GEO 55:13 - Who is the competition? • About us • Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand built from the ground up for a new age of space exploration and commercialization. We deliver need-to-know news and insights daily to 12,000+ decision-makers across commercial, civil, and military space. Payload began as a weekly newsletter sent to a handful of friends and colleagues. Today, we have three media properties and publish across multiple platforms. Our team is distributed across four time zones and two continents. We aim to inform but also educate and entertain, and we serve a highly concentrated audience of decision-makers in the commercial, civil, and military space sectors. While we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish: 1) Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning https://payloadspace.com/ 2) Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings 3) Parallax, our weekly science newsletter for the space industry, on Thursday afternoons https://parallax.beehiiv.com/
01:01:18
January 11, 2023
Pathfinder #0029: Space in 2023, with Rachael Zisk and Tess Hatch
Pathfinder #0029: Space in 2023, with Rachael Zisk and Tess Hatch
We’re doing things a little differently this week. Ryan’s taking a step back from his podcast-hosting duties so you can get to know another member of the Payload media machine.  Actually, we’re doing things very differently. Today’s episode isn’t a Payload-on-Payload interview. Instead, we brought in a guest host.    Today's episode is sponsored by Altek Space, which provides custom manufacturing of essential parts and components for rockets and satellites (including SmallSats). Find out more at https://www.altek-inc.com/space   Our guest host is Tess Hatch, a former aerospace engineer and current partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, where she invests in all things deep tech with a particular focus on the space industry. She’s backed industry-leading space companies like Spire Global ($SPIR) and Rocket Lab ($RKLB). Today, Tess is coming for Ryan’s job at the helm of Pathfinder.   The interviewee: Payload’s own Rachael Zisk. Rachael joined the Payload team as our fourth employee in the early days of the daily newsletter and has been working to shape our coverage of the space industry ever since. She’s also the author of Parallax, Payload’s weekly newsletter covering all things space science.  This week’s episode runs the gamut from the inner workings of Payload to musings on the future of the space industry. Here’s some of what you can expect from today’s episode:   —Rachael’s roots in storytelling   —The duck boat photographer to science writer pipeline —Joining Payload as employee #4 —The highs and lows of the daily newsletter biz —Two key ways to determine the success of a Payload story —plus: who Rachael would bring to space, the rocket she would take, and what her next Payload deep dive might cover.   • Chapters • 01:12 Intro   03:05 Origin story...also, what's a duckboat?   04:23 Path to becoming a space reporter 07:06 How'd you end up at Payload?   10:40 Best part of the job, and where there's room for improvement 15:19 Day in the life   18:26 What makes Payload stand out to its readers?   21:13 The orbital debris dilemma   26:35 Why isn't MEO popular? (MEO = medium Earth orbit)   26:59 Rachael's next deep dive topic   33:05 Predictions for 2023   36:32 Tess's thoughts about 2023 41:34 Common misconception about Payload   43:43 Rapid fire questions   • Links • https://parallax.payloadspace.com/subscribe https://twitter.com/rachaelzisk https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachaelzisk/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/tesshatch/ https://www.bvp.com/team/tess-hatch https://payloadspace.com/author/rachael-zisk/ https://www.instagram.com/ada_ride/?hl=en  • About us • Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand built from the ground up for a new age of space exploration and commercialization. We deliver need-to-know news and insights daily to 12,000+ decision-makers across commercial, civil, and military space. Payload began as a weekly newsletter sent to a handful of friends and colleagues. Today, we have three media properties and publish across multiple platforms. Our team is distributed across four time zones and two continents. We aim to inform but also educate and entertain, and we serve a highly concentrated audience of decision-makers in the commercial, civil, and military space sectors.
46:25
January 04, 2023
#0028: Recapping Orion's Artemis 1 flight with Robert Lightfoot, head of Lockheed Martin Space and former acting NASA administrator
#0028: Recapping Orion's Artemis 1 flight with Robert Lightfoot, head of Lockheed Martin Space and former acting NASA administrator
What’s it like running a $11 billion dollar space business at a publicly traded company and managing a team of nearly 22,000? Or what about building the Orion spacecraft that just finished a 25-day trip around the Moon, and will carry astronauts on its next mission? In Pathfinder #0028, we'll get the answers to those questions and a whole lot more with Robert Lightfoot, the executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space and former acting NASA administrator.  Today's episode is brought by Altek Space, which provides custom manufacturing of essential parts and components for rockets and satellites (including SmallSats). Find out more at https://www.altek-inc.com/space   Robert leads the LM Space business, which is one of the four major divisions of its parent company. The $11 billion business line builds space technology systems for defense, civil, and commercial space customers. Its portfolio ranges from integrated systems for satellites to space-based missile defense capabilities to space observatories to interplanetary robotic spacecraft.  Robert became EVP of LM Space on Jan. 1, 2022, so he’s coming up on his one-year anniversary. Prior to Lockheed, Robert spent 29 years at NASA, holding a variety of leadership roles and rising up the ranks to become associate administrator, the highest ranking civil service position at the agency. He served as the 11th director of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.  Though Robert is from Alabama, went to Bama, and led one of NASA’s key centers in the state, somehow we didn’t cover college football at all. But we did cover:  — An Artemis I postmortem and Orion’s performance during the mission   — Leading large organizations, first in the government and then at a Fortune 500 company — “Protect, connect, and explore” as organizational guideposts   — Building space hardware at scale   — Recruiting and the importance of talent   • Chapters • 0:00 intro 3:51 Starting in space 10:25 Engineer to leader 19:30 Artemis I and Orion 31:52 LM Space's portfolio..."protect, connect, and explore" 41:05 Being part of a public company   46:19 Cost-plus vs. fixed-price contracts 49:00 Future projects you're excited about 54:32 Lightning round • Show notes • Full bio — https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/who-we-are/leadership-governance/robert-lightfoot.html LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-lightfoot-lm-space Website — https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/capabilities/space.html Company twitter — https://twitter.com/LMSpace NDSA explainer — https://payloadspace.com/ndsa-explainer/ • About us • Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand built from the ground up for a new age of space exploration and commercialization. We deliver need-to-know news and insights daily to 12,000+ decision-makers across commercial, civil, and military space. Payload began as a weekly newsletter sent to a handful of friends and colleagues. Today, we have three media properties and publish across multiple platforms. Our team is distributed across four time zones and two continents. We aim to inform but also educate and entertain, and we serve a highly concentrated audience of decision-makers in the commercial, civil, and military space sectors.
56:55
December 20, 2022
#0027: From Minutes to Milliseconds, with Hedron COO Katherine Monson
#0027: From Minutes to Milliseconds, with Hedron COO Katherine Monson
What if you could cut the time for data to be relayed from space to Earth from half an hour to milliseconds? That’s the vision of Hedron. Formerly known as Analytical Space, Hedron is developing a network of data relay satellites that it says “will connect space to Earth in real-time.” Hedron raised a nearly $18M Series A last year and brought on a new management team, including now-COO Katherine Monson. She’s the former CEO of KSAT Inc., the American division of Kongsberg Satellite Services. Before that, she was an early employee of Spire Global ($SPIR). Katherine joins us today on the Pathfinder podcast to discuss Hedron’s go-to-market strategy, the company’s technology, the space industry, the three rules of building networks, and more. Hedron has played its cards relatively close to the vest this year, so it was quite an honor to dig into the startup’s technology, strategy, and outlook for the next few years. SPONSOR : Today’s episode is brought to you by Altek Inc., a leading custom injection molding and precision machining manufacturer of key parts and components for rockets and satellites. Find out more at https://www.altek-inc.com/ CHAPTERS 00:00: Intro 04:30 Dreaming of being SecDef 6:49 International cooperation work at Pentagon 8:12 High-stakes negotiating and high capital-intensity industries 9:00 Entering aerospace world 13:00 The importance of trust in business 14:30 Changes at Hedron (formerly Analytical Space) 19:13 “Today, that's measured in minutes and we need to be moving into milliseconds” 21:20 The three rules of building networks 28:00 Technology stack, network architecture, and inter-satellite links 34:30 What needs to be done in-house and what doesn’t (aka buy vs. build) 37:30 Target users and applications…why do firefighters need this technology? 50:35 Other industries space can learn from NOTES Website: https://www.hedron.space/ Rebrand/Series A https://payloadspace.com/hedron-rebrands-raises-series-a/ Katherine’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katherinedmonson KSAT: https://www.ksat.no/ Spire: https://spire.com/ Pathfinder’s 2022 Spotify Wrapped: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/rfduffy_pathfinders-spotify-wrapped-weve-been-activity-7007133134081191936-4UvR Ryan's socials — https://twitter.com/Ryandoofy / https://www.linkedin.com/in/rfduffy/ Payload’s socials — https://twitter.com/payloadspace / https://www.linkedin.com/company/payloadspace/ ABOUT US Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand built from the ground up for a new age of space exploration and commercialization. We deliver need-to-know news and insights daily to 12,000+ decision-makers across commercial, civil, and military space.We aim to inform but also educate and entertain.
56:10
December 13, 2022
Pathfinder #0026: Traveling to the Edge of Space, with Space Perspective's Jane Poynter
Pathfinder #0026: Traveling to the Edge of Space, with Space Perspective's Jane Poynter
In today’s episode of the Pathfinder podcast, we’re talking all about a gentler type of suborbital space tourism. In Pathfinder #0026, we sit down with Jane Poynter, the co-CEO and cofounder of Space Perspective. Today’s episode is brought to you by Altek Space (https://www.altek-inc.com/space).   Jane was a member of the Biosphere 2 experiment, spending two years inside a closed ecosystem. She also cofounded Paragon Space Development Corp., which creates life support systems for spacecraft and stations.  Now, she’s working on Space Perspective. The startup has raised nearly $70M to date, is closing in on 100 employees, and aims to launch commercial service in 2024.   Space Perspective is selling tickets for $125,000 a pop and its capsule is designed to take a crew of eight (and one pilot) nearly 100,000 ft. above Earth.    This was a fun episode that runs the gamut from controlled environment experiments to breaking the world’s record for highest jump to what one would do if a customer was overserved on a space balloon. Here’s a sample of what we discussed over the course of an hour. We also discuss:   - Spaceship Neptune’s interior and exterior design   - Ticket sales; pricing power; and supply and demand   - The in-cabin amenities and cuisine   - Recruiting and fundraising   - Voyager, Space Perspective’s new ship, and how the startup is thinking about spaceport strategy   …plus a whole lot more. You won’t want to miss this wide-ranging conversation.  ABOUT US Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand, and while we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish: 1) Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning 2) Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings  3) ...and 💫Parallax!💫 on Thursday afternoons.   Subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about Payload at www.payloadspace.com
59:45
December 06, 2022
#0025: Amazon and AWS's Space Ambitions, with Maj. Gen. Clint Crosier (Ret.)
#0025: Amazon and AWS's Space Ambitions, with Maj. Gen. Clint Crosier (Ret.)
Welcome to Pathfinder #0025, brought to you by Spaced Ventures, the planet’s first public space investment portal. Today, we’ll be talking about what in the world Amazon is up to in space, with someone who can speak to this probably better than almost anyone else on the planet. Clint Crosier served in the US Air Force and Space Force for 33 years, and helped stand up the latter branch. After retiring as a major general, Amazon recruited Clint to lead AWS’s Aerospace and Satellites division. AWS is short for Amazon Web Services, which you’ll hear a lot in this conversation. For the uninitiated, AWS is the world’s leading cloud computing vendor by market share and revenue. In the last calendar year, Amazon’s cloud unit made $62 billion, representing a 37% year over year increase over 2020. And it posted an $18 billion operating profit. AWS’s Aerospace & Satellites group announced today that it had achieved a first, by running artificial intelligence/machine learning algorithms on a real-life, orbiting satellite. Clint and Ryan unpack the announcement, and also discuss what his team’s building, who they’re working with,  how cloud and space fit together, and a whole lot more. ABOUT US Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand built from the ground up for a new age of space exploration and commercialization. We deliver need-to-know news and insights daily to 12,000+ decision-makers across commercial, civil, and military space. Payload began as a weekly newsletter sent to a handful of friends and colleagues. Today, we have three media properties and publish across multiple platforms. Our team is distributed across four time zones and two continents. We aim to inform but also educate and entertain, and we serve a highly concentrated audience of decision-makers in the commercial, civil, and military space sectors.  And while we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish: 1) Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning 2) Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings 3) ...and 💫Parallax!💫 on Thursday afternoons. Parallax is our new weekly science newsletter for the space industry. Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com Subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about Payload at www.payloadspace.com
54:12
November 29, 2022
Bill Perkins on SkyFi, Slinging Satellite Imagery, and Solving Space Software Problems
Bill Perkins on SkyFi, Slinging Satellite Imagery, and Solving Space Software Problems
Today’s guest is Bill Perkins, a hedge fund manager, film producer, high-stakes poker player, and author of Die with Zero. If he wasn’t in those lines of work, Bill tells Ryan he’d be a farmer. More importantly for our purposes, Bill is the founder of SkyFi. The startup doesn’t fly its own satellites, and is instead tackling what it sees as a software problem. SkyFi is developing a clean, consumerized experience for buying satellite imagery through a web browser or smartphone app. Behind the scenes, SkyFi’s platform pulls from 70+ satellites and leverages partnerships with more than a dozen EO partners. The app is in beta, with a global launch slated for next year. The marketplace supports (or will support) high-res satellite imagery, night, hyperspectral, satellite video, SAR, and stereo. Prices start at $20 for an existing image and $175 for a new one. This convo was a fun one that you won’t want to miss. Just don’t listen to this episode at 2X speed. *CHAPTERS* (02:39) Bill voted early  (05:17) Die with Zero  (08:12) Life as an energy trader, what types of data funds are buying to gain an investing edge, and how it all ties into the origin story of SkyFi (15:02) Bill’s frustrations buying millions in satellite imagery—and the industry status quo in sales cycles, target customers, and user experience (30:36) Is SkyFi a consumer-focused venture? Who will use the product? Why would anyone use it? (33:20) Bringing on Luke Fischer and handing him the reins as CEO, raising venture money, and recruiting from non-traditional space backgrounds (45:30) The pitch to partners and how SkyFi signs on satellite operators (36:25) Putting satellite imagery, data, and analytics into the hands of the geniuses of the world will help us solve “intractable problems,” like pollution, deforestation, and illegal fishing (50:04) Sci-fi, wakeboarding, aliens, and the answer to: “Why are you building an Android app?” (Editor’s note/trigger warning: Both Bill and Ryan use Androids.) *LINKS* SkyFi website: https://www.skyfi.com/ Bill's Twitter: https://twitter.com/bp22 SkyFi's socials: https://twitter.com/SkyfiApp  |  https://www.linkedin.com/company/skyfi-imaging/  |  https://www.instagram.com/skyfi.app/ Die With Zero: https://www.diewithzerobook.com/welcome Ryan's Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ryandoofy Payload SkyFi coverage: https://payloadspace.com/exclusive-skyfi-raises-7-15m/  |   https://payloadspace.com/skyfi-beta-app/ Apply to be a SkyFi beta tester: https://r66ka677lo0.typeform.com/to/n1mWYCjZ *ABOUT PATHFINDER* Pathfinder is powered Payload, a modern space media brand. While we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish: 1) 🚀 Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning 2) 🧑🏼‍🚀 Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings 3) 🌌 ...and 💫Parallax!💫 on Thursday afternoons. Parallax is our new-ish weekly science newsletter for the space industry. Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com Subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about Payload at www.payloadspace.com
55:37
November 15, 2022
Pixxel CEO Awais Ahmed on Hyperspectral Imaging, Satellite Startups, and a Health Monitor for Earth
Pixxel CEO Awais Ahmed on Hyperspectral Imaging, Satellite Startups, and a Health Monitor for Earth
Today’s episode takes us to the bleeding edge of Earth observation, where one startup aims to bring what it claims is a step change in multispectral data to the commercial markets. Our guest, Awais Ahmed, is the CEO and cofounder of Pixxel. The Indian-American startup, which is building a health monitor for Earth, has raised $32M+ to build a 36-satellite constellation of hyperspectral imaging satellites. Today’s episode is brought to you by Spaced Ventures, which recently launched an effort to open an investment round into SpaceX. The space investment portal has received over $38M million in pledges from 2,200 investors. A sneak peek into Pathfinder #0023 What prompted Awais and cofounder/CTO Kshitij Khandelwal to start the company (hint: the origin story is a running theme in recent Pathfinder episodes) Comparisons between multispectral and hyperspectral data collection Capturing 200+ bands at five-meter resolution and a 24-hour revisit rate “It’s early days” for space commercialization in India, but the sector has a bright future The tech tailwinds powering the startup, along with its key initial use cases and market verticals The startup’s views on launch and how Pixxel selects rockets for its satellites’ trips to space We unpack Pixxel’s long-term vision for mapping the solar system *CHAPTERS* (03:16) What are you putting on orbit? (06:48) Hyperspectral introduction (10:55) Space products for companies (12:26) Origin story of Pixxel (18:46) The stresses of launching a payload (24:25) How India is a competitive advantage for Pixxel (28:07) Technology tailwinds + Pixxel’s tech stack (39:08) End users + use cases for this technology (43:12) Hyperspectral vs. synthetic aperture radar (46:52) A *massively* high concentration of commercial, rather than government, customers (49:09) How to pick a launch provider + getting to final destination, space tugs, etc. (52:10) Pixxel’s long-term vision for mapping the solar system *LINKS* https://www.pixxel.space/ https://twitter.com/awaisahmedna https://payloadspace.com/pixxel-series-a/ https://www.pixxel.space/vision https://www.pixxel.space/technology https://www.linkedin.com/company/pixxelspace/ *ABOUT US*  Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand, and while we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish: 1) Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning 2) Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings  3) ...and 💫Parallax!💫 on Thursday afternoons.    Parallax is our new weekly science newsletter for the space industry. Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com    Subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about Payload at www.payloadspace.com
01:01:25
November 01, 2022
Andy Lapsa on 100% reusable rockets, Stoke Space, and sustainable launch
Andy Lapsa on 100% reusable rockets, Stoke Space, and sustainable launch
Andy is the CEO and cofounder of Stoke Space, a startup that aims to build 100% reusable rockets. The startup raised a $9.1M seed round in 2020, graduated from Y Combinator's Winter 2021 batch, and then announced a $65M Series A in December. All the while, Stoke has been moving quickly to build a completely new kind of rocket.    Today’s episode is sponsored by Spaced Ventures, which recently launched an effort to open an investment round into SpaceX. The space investment portal has received over $38M million in pledges from 2,150+ investors. Find out more at https://www.spacedventures.com/  TIMESTAMPS 01:57 — Andy's resume, from Cornell to Blue Origin and beyond 06:54 — Leaving Blue and thinking through what's next   08:36 — Thesis, team, & track record   12:06 — An engineering challenge, not a science problem   15:52 — Escaping Earth's gravity well is no small feat 18:36 — $$$   22:18 — Analogy from the high seas and 200 years ago    24:02 — What Stoke is doing differently ... and @ 24:55 the unsolved problem 28:38 — The most novel part to Stoke's approach   33:24 — Speed, vertical integration, and tightly coupled systems 37:21 — The test stand in Moses Lake, Washington 39:44 — Fundraising, from the seed round to a $65M Series A 40:15 — Sustainability   52:45 — Testing + developing a reusable second stage 1:00:49 — Stoke in a post-Starship world   1:04:05 — Who will the customers be?    LINKS https://www.stokespace.com/ https://twitter.com/stoke_space https://twitter.com/AndyLapsa https://payloadspace.com/stoke-series-a/ https://twitter.com/Ryandoofy  ABOUT US  Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand, and while we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish: 1) Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning 2) Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings  3) ...and 💫Parallax!💫 on Thursday afternoons.    Parallax is our new weekly science newsletter for the space industry. Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com Subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about us at https://payloadspace.com/
01:10:13
October 25, 2022
Building Payload, with Ryan Duffy
Building Payload, with Ryan Duffy
Today is Opposite Day at Pathfinder. Rather than interview someone, Ryan himself is sitting down in the hot seat to take an hour’s worth of questions. Our guest host is cofounder Mo Islam. Though he’s Ryan’s coworker, he’s also his boss and a fair, unsparing interviewer. Pathfinder #0021 is brought to you by Spaced Ventures, the planet’s first space investment portal. Spaced Ventures recently launched an effort to open an investment round into SpaceX, and as of this writing, has received $36.6M+ in pledges from more than 2,050 investors. Okay, here we go…Today’s guest is Ryan Duffy, the managing editor of Payload and host of Pathfinder. Our discussion with Ryan peels back the curtain to offer an inside look into how the ever-growing Payload newsroom operates. What we cover: a sneak peek Launching the daily Payload newsletter and what we’ve learned one year in Ryan’s experience creating Morning Brew’s second product Digital media startups and newsletter-first distribution models Evolving from curation to original reporting and analysis Popular narratives vs. what’s actually happening in the space industry Who we write for at Payload and how we see our audience Ryan launders the best insights and talking points from previous Pathfinder alumni Hype cycles in space and other emerging technology-dominant industries What’s next for Payload 👀👀👀 …there’s plenty of range in this conversation, from running a mile every day for 1,000+ days in a row, to getting hit by a car, to wanting to be a garbage man rather than an astronaut as a child (hence the thumbnail). We hope you enjoy the convo and learn something new about Payload. SHOW LINKS Mo's Twitter — https://twitter.com/itsmoislam Ryan's Twitter — https://twitter.com/Ryandoofy ABOUT US Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand, and while we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish: 1) Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning 2) Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings   3) ...and 💫Parallax!💫 on Thursday afternoons.  Parallax is our brand-spanking new weekly science newsletter for the space industry. Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com   Subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about Payload at www.payloadspace.com
01:00:14
October 18, 2022
Software for Space, with Epsilon3's Laura Crabtree
Software for Space, with Epsilon3's Laura Crabtree
We’re 20 weeks into publishing the Pathfinder podcast—and we have a great episode in store for you to mark the occasion. Our guest is Laura Crabtree, cofounder and CEO of Epsilon3.    Today’s episode is sponsored by Spaced Ventures, the planet’s first space investment portal. Spaced Ventures has recently launched an effort to open an investment round into SpaceX. Find out more at www.spacedventures.com   About Epsilon3: The startup has developed an operating system (OS) for space missions. The streamlined software tool helps space companies keep tabs on complex engineering, testing, and operational procedures. Epsilon3’s customers include Inversion, Orbit Fab, Virgin Galactic, Firefly, Stoke, Stratolaunch, and Privateer, among other companies.    And more about our guest : Laura began her space career at Northrop Grumman, before moving on to SpaceX, where she helped put the US back in the human spaceflight biz. She worked on the Dragon ops team and was on the console for the spacecraft’s first flight, its first mission to the ISS, and subsequent commercial crew programs. She also worked on the F9 and Dragon Recovery teams.    TIMESTAMPS 0:00 — Intro   3:06 — Putting the US back in the human spaceflight business 5:12 — Other highlights from Laura's time as a SpaceX'er 7:43 — The state of play in space mission management   10:07 — Why are space missions managed and tracked on pen, paper, Word, and Excel?   15:23 — Quantifying Epsilon3's effectiveness   19:16 — Building industry tools that everybody needs   21:53 — The beauty of elegant software tools   25:13 — When you got started, was it a non-obvious or counterintuitive bet to think the space industry was big enough to support its own software startup? 28:28 — A discussion of Epsilon3's customer base 31:36 — Meme cameo   35:12 — Going through Y Combinator   38:43 — Growing with current users and acquiring new customers   49:15 — Where the Epsilon3 name cames from    LINKS Website — https://www.epsilon3.io/ Laura's Twitter — https://twitter.com/llcrabbie LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/company/epsilon3inc/ Ryan's Twitter — https://twitter.com/Ryandoofy  ABOUT US Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand, and while we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish: 1) Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning 2) Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings  3) ...and 💫Parallax!💫 on Thursday afternoons.   Parallax is our brand-spanking new weekly science newsletter for the space industry. Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com    Subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about Payload at www.payloadspace.com
52:03
October 11, 2022
Road to Rocket 4.0: Astra CEO Chris Kemp on what's changing at the launch company
Road to Rocket 4.0: Astra CEO Chris Kemp on what's changing at the launch company
Happy Q4–and fiscal year 2023–to those who celebrate, and welcome back to another episode of Pathfinder. Today we're back on the rocket beat and we'll get a much-needed company update from Astra ($ASTR) CEO Chris Kemp.   Today’s episode is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems. Take the Payload/SpiderOak survey and contribute to the future of space security: https://tinyurl.com/3awsufd9  Astra's first launch of NASA’s TROPICS satellites ended in failure this summer. Shortly thereafter, Astra scrapped all flights for 2022 and accelerated its pivot to a larger, more capable launcher. As it moves customer payloads to the Rocket 4.0 manifest, Astra says it will launch scientific spacecraft for NASA that are comparable to TROPICS payloads.   All the while, shares of Astra have been in free-fall: $ASTR is -90% YTD. Chris still sounded a confident tone, saying the company has the cash to get to Rocket 4.0. Plus, “we have a tremendous number of assets sitting behind me that we've been using our balance sheet to fund,” Chris told us.   TIMESTAMPS 0:00 - Intro 5:40 - Astra's garage origins and what's changed in the last five years   9:43 - Falcon 9 → Falcon 9 .... and how Astra is responding to market demand in launch 12:40 - What’s the delta in "the three Cs" as Astra moves from 3.0 to 4.0? 16:39 - Chris dives into what’s needed for launching 4.0   19:10 - How has Astra’s willingness to fail early and iterate helped them get to where they are today?   26:10 - An evolving approach to manufacturing, production, and launch operations 28:18 - The customer profile and civil, commercial, and military space split for Rocket 4.0   31:47 - Take the Payload/SpiderOak space cyber survey 33:38 - IR with institutions and retail investors 37:46 - Ryan shares a Payload reader’s question (and concerns) about Astra's future 40:27 - Could a sale be in the cards? 44:32 - Where will Astra be 12 months from now? 49:43 - Hottest take, or most contrarian view, on space    SHOW NOTES https://astra.com/ https://twitter.com/kemp https://investor.astra.com/static-files/6492bebb-0313-4b4b-a52a-da29428239d9 https://investor.astra.com/news-releases/news-release-details/astra-announces-spacecraft-engine-contract-airbus-oneweb https://astra.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Astra-Spacetech-Day-Keynote-2022.pdf ABOUT US Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand, and while we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish:  1) Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning  2) Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings   3) ...and 💫Parallax!💫 on Thursday afternoons. Parallax is our new weekly science newsletter for the space industry. Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com   Subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more at www.payloadspace.com
55:29
October 04, 2022
Lasers + Software for Land, Air, Space, & Sea Networks with Aalyria's Brian Barritt
Lasers + Software for Land, Air, Space, & Sea Networks with Aalyria's Brian Barritt
Aalyria just emerged from stealth mode, announcing an acquisition of a trove of connectivity technology from Google. The search juggernaut's parent company Alphabet has been developing high-altitude networking technology and apparently a space laser for years, if not decades. Aalyria is setting out to commercialize a lot of this technology, including much of the IP that ran in production with Alphabet's high-flying Loon connectivity balloons.  The startup is promising the world, and then some, with two products to its name: Spacetime & Tightbeam.  We bring Aalyria CTO Brian Barritt on the show this week to dig into the startup's vision.  TIMESTAMPS 0:00 — Live intro 0:34 — Aalyria has just emerged from stealth 4:17 — Brian's background 9:03 — Spacetime & Tightbeam 14:00 — Demoing the laser 18:41 — Air to ground, space to ground, ground to ground 20:15 — Acquiring Alphabet's tech & going independent   24:14 — Why now?   30:31 — Potential deep space applications   33:35 — What's derisked? And what's not? 38:40 — Commercial viability   43:29 — End of show Qs ... including the one we've all been dying to know Is Aalyria worried about aliens piggybacking off of its laser beams?   LINKS Brian's Twitter — https://twitter.com/brianbarritt?lang=en Aalyria's Twitter — https://twitter.com/AalyriaTech Company website — https://www.aalyria.com/ (head here for more on Spacetime & Tightbeam) Ryan's Twitter — https://twitter.com/Ryandoofy   Spacetime description: "Spacetime is a software platform for orchestrating networks of ground stations, aircraft, satellites, ships, and urban meshes.  It optimizes and continually evolves the antenna link scheduling, network traffic routing, and spectrum resources — responding in realtime to changing network requirements.  Spacetime operates networks across land, sea, air, and space, at any altitude or orbit type, supports all radio frequency bands and optical wavelengths, and it is designed for interoperability with legacy, hybrid space, 5G NTN and FutureG network architectures." Tightbeam description: "Tightbeam is the world's most advanced coherent light free space optics technology. At rates faster than any other solutions available today and covering greater distances than previously imagined, it moves data intact through the atmosphere and weather, and offers connectivity where no supporting infrastructure exists. Tightbeam radically improves satellite communications, Wi-Fi on planes and ships, and cellular connectivity everywhere." ABOUT US Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand, and while we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish: 1) Payload, our flagship daily newsletter, every Monday to Friday morning 2) Pathfinder, this podcast, on Tuesday mornings 3) ...and 💫Parallax!💫 on Thursday afternoons.   Parallax is our brand-spanking new weekly science newsletter for the space industry. Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com   And subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about Payload at www.payloadspace.com
48:48
September 27, 2022
A Pure-Play Space Infrastructure Player, featuring Redwire CEO/Chairman Peter Cannito and CTO Al Tadros
A Pure-Play Space Infrastructure Player, featuring Redwire CEO/Chairman Peter Cannito and CTO Al Tadros
Bonjour, and welcome to the Pathfinder in Paris experience, powered by Payload.  We’ve got a surprise in store for you today – a twofer! That’s right, two guests for the price of one, and packaged up into one standard length podcast. In this week's episode, and our second dispatch from back-to-back space conferences in Paris, Ryan sits down with Redwire CEO and Chairman Peter Cannito, followed by an interview with Al Tadros, Redwire's chief technology officer. Redwire is a full-stack space infrastructure company based in Jacksonville, Florida, and publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange ($RDW).   The first half of the podcast features our conversation with Peter, who is also an operating partner at AE Industrial Partners. The space-focused private equity player has more than $3 billion in assets under management and hatched Redwire in late 2020 by merging Adcole Space and Deep Space Systems, and has also backed Firefly, Sierra, and other big space names. With Peter, we discuss Redwire's M&A strategy, business roadmap, growth markets, investing in space, AE's central role in the space ecosystem, and the geopolitics of space. Peter has spent 25+ years in the defense, tech, and government contracting sectors, and was formerly the CEO of Polaris Alpha. He holds a bachelor's from U Delaware, an MBA from Maryland, and served as an officer in the US Marines.  The second half of today's episode features our conversation with Al, who makes strategic investments that support Redwire’s customer base, advance technology development, and further commercialization. Al has nearly three decades of experience as an aerospace executive and has straddled both business and technical leadership functions, which makes his perspective particularly unique and valuable. Prior to being named as CTO of Redwire earlier this year, Al was the company's chief growth officer and executive vice president of space infrastructure. Before Redwire, Al was VP of space infrastructure and and civil space at Maxar Technologies. Al holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and a master’s in mechanical engineering from MIT.  Today's episode of Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems, an industry leader in cybersecurity. Check out SpiderOak’s space cyber whitepaper at spacecyber.com -- TIMESTAMPS 0:00 - Intro 2:30 - Show begins with Peter 4:49 - International expansion 7:08 - Square footage...correlated with company success? 9:07 - Operator + investor experience in space 14:30 - Space macro discussion 17:44 - Taking Redwire public via SPAC, and why not all space SPACs are created equal 22:02 - Peter’s take on geopolitical trends shaping space, and a modern-day space race with China 26:27 - Al joins + tells us about the Redwire CTO role 27:10 - His journey at Redwire and rising up the ranks 33:00 - Redwire's technology portfolio 35:07 - Robotics in space 38:47 - Flight-proven hardware, structures on the ISS, etc. 42:01 - Where is the European space sector headed? 45:00 - The space industry always has room for more fresh talent, including folks in non-technical roles  --  Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand. While we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish Payload, our flagship newsletter, from Monday to Friday; Pathfinder, and Parallax. Parallax is our brand-spanking new weekly science newsletter for the space industry.  Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com You can subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about Payload at payloadspace.com
49:22
September 20, 2022
The soup-to-nuts space economy: Caleb Henry on industry megatrends, satellite growth markets, launch dynamics, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict
The soup-to-nuts space economy: Caleb Henry on industry megatrends, satellite growth markets, launch dynamics, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict
These days, the satellite industry is hard-pressed to go a single week without fresh speculation on multibillion-dollar megamergers or new household names (ahem, Apple and T-Mobile) jumping into the fray.    That’s why we’re thrilled to have locked down Caleb Henry as today’s Pathfinder guest. On Pathfinder 0016, Caleb joins Ryan to help us make sense of of all the madness in the satellite industry, from consolidation to new growth markets. The airing of Pathfinder 0016—on Day 2 of World Satellite Business Week—couldn’t have been more well-timed if we tried.  Today's episode of Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems, an industry leader in cybersecurity. Check out SpiderOak’s space cyber whitepaper at spacecyber.com  TIMESTAMPS 00:00 — Intro 01:46 — The pre-Quilty Analytics days ... Caleb's winding journey from political science and astronomy to space reporting 08:27 — What do space analysts do for a living? 12:01 — SpaceX and T-Mobile teaming up and satellite-to-smartphone connectivity 21:23 — Tracking newly SPAC'd or IPO'd space companies, vs. established mid/big-cap A&D stocks with large and $$$ space divisions 28:22 — A shout-out to AST SpaceMobile's online fans and r/ASTSpaceMobile ... "Hi, Reddit and AST SpaceMobile subreddit, we're reading you." 30:00  — Caleb's 🐐 description for what supports the satellite industry ... the-three legged stool 36:59 — And don't forget the invisible stool ... cybersecurity, space situational awareness (SSA), and spectrum authorization 47:22 — What was it like moderating the Amazon Project Kuiper announcement, aka the largest commercial launch procurement in history? Caleb interviewed CEOs of Blue Origin, Arianespace, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) 48:33 — Where is the market tapped out? And where is there room to grow?   52:18 — The long-lasting effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the space industry. With the two space powerhouses at odds, "the split is literally tearing rockets in half and tearing satellites in half." LINKS Caleb's Twitter — https://twitter.com/CHenry_QA Caleb's LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/calebahenry/ Ryan's Twitter — https://twitter.com/Ryandoofy Quilty — https://www.quiltyanalytics.com/ Research/reports ($) — https://www.quiltyanalytics.com/research/industry-research/ Diagrams — https://payloadspace.com/pathfinder-0016-featuring-caleb-henry/    Parallax —parallax.beehiiv.com  Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand. While we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we publish Payload, our flagship newsletter, from Monday to Friday; Pathfinder, and Parallax. Parallax is our brand-spanking new weekly science newsletter for the space industry. Subscribe now so you can say you were early by signing up at parallax.beehiiv.com  You can subscribe to our daily newsletter and find out more about Payload at payloadspace.com
01:00:59
September 13, 2022
Solar System Communications: Kelly Larson on Aquarian's mission, Wi-Fi for the Moon, and early-stage space startups
Solar System Communications: Kelly Larson on Aquarian's mission, Wi-Fi for the Moon, and early-stage space startups
We have a rare Wednesday release of the Pathfinder podcast, but we promise the wait was worth it. Joining us today is Kelly Larson, who’s the CEO of Aquarian Space. The Boulder, Colorado startup is building “internet for the solar system.” Or, to get a bit more technical, Aquarian is developing a communications network for interplanetary exploration.  In March, Aquarian announced it had raised $650,000 in seed funding to get to work on its solar system internet. Draper Associates led the seed round, which is especially notable because Draper was an early investor in SpaceX.    Today's episode is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems, an industry leader in space cybersecurity. Check them out at https://spideroak-ms.com/ and download the new NSR/SpiderOak sponsored whitepaper, titled “Space Cybersecurity – Current State and Future Needs,” at www.spacecyber.com   DISCUSSION PREVIEW:  For starters, we get a status report on what Aquarian’s been up to over the last six months. But there’s plenty more on tap, such as:   - How Kelly landed at Aquarian, with a serial entrepreneur background and non-space resume   - NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) and new opportunities with today’s technology   - Going to market with CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) rovers and landers - What a lunar Wi-Fi network will look like and its first applications - The capital required for the initial network buildout - Is Kelly worried about aliens free-loading on Aquarian’s Wi-Fi?   …and more! Come for the above topics, stay for ever-so-brief discussions of yoga and astrology (Ryan’s totally unbiased opinion: Aquarians rule).    Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand. While we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we send newsletters and publish podcasts. Subscribe to our flagship industry-leading daily newsletter at payloadspace.com Timestamps: 0:00 - Introduction 2:32 - Kelly’s love for space began when she grew up on a farm and was able to look up at the stars 6:49 - “Farm girl turned yoga entrepreneur turned space CEO.”  The transformation that brought Kelly to the space industry 11:08 - Kelly’s take on joining Aquarian 13:24 - What problems is Aquarian setting out to solve?  How are they approaching these issues? 18:14 - Aquarian’s launch strategy for their communications networks and the growing lunar economy 24:36 - What will Aquarian’s constellation look like? Kelly discusses the need to bring reliable service to Aquarian’s customers 29:11 - Eating the humble pie: how Kelly went about fundraising and pitching in the first round 34:46 - Space camps and mentorship 37:42 - Are there common backgrounds in the technical team at Aquarian? 41:33 - The logistics of being a space startup distributed across the US 45:14 - Kelly’s hottest take, or most contrarian view, of space 46:40 - Who are Kelly’s role models in the space industry? Will Kelly go to space one day? 51:33 - The concern for extraterrestrial life and having advanced network systems in space
54:08
September 07, 2022
Solar System Logistics: Barry Matsumori on Impulse Space's Big Vision, Mars highways, and Earth Reentries
Solar System Logistics: Barry Matsumori on Impulse Space's Big Vision, Mars highways, and Earth Reentries
The Pathfinder guarantee is to bring you conversations you won’t find anywhere else. Today’s episode delivers on that guarantee in spades, taking us from the cost-per-kilogram of covered wagons to in-space delivery logistics to Mars highways...and much more.  Our guest is Barry Matsumori, a space industry veteran who’s held exec roles at SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, and most recently, was CEO of BridgeComm. Barry’s now the COO of Impulse Space, which was started by SpaceX founding team member Tom Mueller. Impulse is just a year old and it has only ~40 employees, making it all the more surprising when Impulse and Relativity said they’d partner to launch the first commercial Mars mission in the next available window (late 2024). We grill Barry on the specifics of the mission, and though it feels highly ambitious, it’s safe to say that you don’t want to bet against these teams. Today's episode is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems, an industry leader in space cybersecurity. Check them out at https://spideroak-ms.com/ and download the new NSR/SpiderOak sponsored whitepaper, titled “Space Cybersecurity – Current State and Future Needs,” at www.spacecyber.com TIMESTAMPS: 0:00 - Introduction 2:43 -Explaining what it was like to work for Qualcomm, a semiconductor company specializing in silicon chips used in mobile phones 5:20 - Barry’s unorthodox approach to higher education, starting with an undergraduate business degree and then pursuing a postgrad degree in engineering 9:05 - Defining new space 11:20 - The bread and butter of Impulse Space… finding ways to build infrastructure that allows space to become an enterprise 13:37 - Impulse Space aims to be a “last-mile” space transportation player. What does that mean and what does it look like? 17:56 - Discussion of Imulse’s development cycles and vertical integration 19:35 - Where does the startup recruit from? What does its headcount look like? 20:35 - Relativity and Space are working together to do what?! 25:10 - What still needs to happen or fall into place to make the Mars window in 2024? 31:16 - Orbital infrastructure is a prerequisite for more space commercialization (materials processing, pharma development, semiconductor manufacturing, etc.) 36:20 - How using LEO as a parking could usher in a more sustainable phase of space exploration (and return trips to Earth) 40:28 - Pulling in fresh talent from other industries versus recruiting from space competitors 44:07 - Pools of talent density around the US… From LA to Boston, and far beyond 47:26 - If all goes to plan, what will Impulse look like in 2024? What other missions will it be working on? 48:41 - Close of show … Star Wars or Star Trek? Are we alone? Will Barry go to space? SHOW LINKS:  Video referenced in episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuL7iYUNg6o&feature=emb_title Impulse's website: https://www.impulsespace.com/ Barry's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/barry-matsumori-35676/ Mars mission details: https://www.impulsespace.com/mars Q+A with partner Relativity: https://payloadspace.com/qa-with-tim-ellis-on-relativitys-mars-mission/ Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand. While we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we send newsletters and publish podcasts. Subscribe to our flagship industry-leading daily newsletter at payloadspace.com
52:02
August 30, 2022
Martian helicopters: Giuseppe Santangelo on founding Skypersonic, developing space hardware, and flying on other planets
Martian helicopters: Giuseppe Santangelo on founding Skypersonic, developing space hardware, and flying on other planets
Giuseppe is president at Red Cat Holdings ($RCAT) and founder of Skypersonic, which builds drones that can inspect and survey sites in high-risk, confined, or GPS-denied locations. Skypersonic's product enables remote operators to fly drones indoors 100% remotely and over the internet.    Previously, Giuseppe was responsible for the development of projects on behalf of the European Space Agency at Thales Alenia Space, and has been involved in development of space systems used at NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). He studied Astronautical Engineering at the University “La Sapienza di Roma” and he achieved the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) at Engineering Faculty of Catania. What's the space angle? Skypersonic just recently completed a 15-day set of testing its drone at Mt. Etna, an Italian volcano with Martian-esque terrain. Pilots in Houston flew Skypersonic's drones to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology in a Mars-like environment. In 2021, NASA awarded Skypersonic a five-year contract to provide drone and rover software, hardware, and services/support for the US space agency's simulated Mars mission. 0:00 - Introduction 4:27 - Giuseppe got into space at a very young age. Also, Ryan asks the question we’ve all been dying to know… Star Trek or Star Wars? 6:34 - The Italian space sector and working at Thales Alenia 11:24 - Starting simple…how’d Giuseppe come up with the name “Skypersonic”? 13:13 - The startup’s backstory and the art of the pivot 14:08 - 99% of all drones use GPS to fly – Skypersonic is building for the 1% share, and high-risk, highly complex situations and GPS-denied environments. 18:15 - “the pilot is important” 18:46 - A walkthrough of how drones connect to remote operation centers across the world. “Hopefully I can explain in a simple way, even if it’s super complex.” 26:32 - Spillovers from technology developed for space, now being used every day down here on Earth 30:57 - Skypersonic’s testing of its drones and remote operations at Mount Etna (an Italian volcano with a Martian-esque environment) 39:00 - Potential hiccups with using electrical propulsion systems on Mars. Also, spoiler alert, you can’t pilot helicopters on Mars from Earth 41:31 - Getting acquired by Red Cat Holdings, and what it’s like being on the management team of a publicly traded deeptech company 46:56 - Does Giuseppe have any advice for the space SPACs that are trying to tough it out in the public markets right now? 49:51 - Just a normal light question on this Tuesday morning: “Are we alone in the universe?” Giuseppe has worked on space telescopes searching for extraterrestrial planets, so we feel he’s qualified to answer this question. 52:04 - A once-in-a-generation renaissance and technological revival for space 53:40 - Giuseppe’s favorite off-the-radar Italian city
57:27
August 23, 2022
Live Earth Catalog: Emiliano Kargieman on starting Satellogic, Earth observation, small launch, and constellation economics
Live Earth Catalog: Emiliano Kargieman on starting Satellogic, Earth observation, small launch, and constellation economics
On today’s Pathfinder, we sit down with Emiliano Kargieman, who is CEO and cofounder of Satellogic ($SATL). Originally started in Buenos Aires, the now-global ~$500M microsat operator is deploying a LEO constellation and aims to develop a high-res, live catalog of Earth.  By the end of 2023, Satellogic hopes to have 60+ satellites in orbit (and 200+ by 2025). The company made $4.2 million in 2021, the year it began selling and delivering imagery to customers. Today’s Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems (https://spideroak-ms.com/), an industry leader in cybersecurity. Check out the company’s space cyber whitepaper at spacecyber.com  TIMESTAMPS: 0:00 - Intro 2:05 - Satellogic’s presence all over the world, from Buenos Aires to the Netherlands 4:35 - What does operating a multinational satellite company look like during a global pandemic?   6:34 - Emiliano has had the entrepreneurial bug from a young age, since he was programming computers as a 9 year old   10:42 - The inception story of Satellogic, building a more efficient way to observe Earth and remap the planet, all the way up until 2020 14:49 - What characteristics set Satellogic apart from other smallsat constellations?   20:22 - Sub meter resolution optical cameras and multispectral cameras being used in object identification and classification in Earth observation (EO) 24:53 - What role do sales and marketing play in reaching new customers in commercial markets? 31:01 - Emiliano’s list of technology and financial trends that made his business possible, from the canonical drop in launch costs to the standardization of launch interfaces and more 37:03 - What are your biggest bottlenecks or constraints: resolution limits or government regulations?   43:45 - What is a DSC, or dedicated satellite constellation? How does it tie in with space-as-a-service? And why might national governments want to tap DSCs?   46:33 - Satellogic’s operations over Ukraine and their efforts to aid the country and other NATO members   50:11 - Being a non-US company listed in the United States, and the positives and negatives of the decision to go public via SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) merger 55:12 - Emiliano’s hottest take, or most contrarian view, on the space industry…His answer  The future of the space economy will match the economy on Planet Earth 56:27 - Will Emiliano’s daughter go on to work in the space industry?   57:26 - Advice for students, especially from the Global South, who are looking to break into the space industry SHOW LINKS: Satellogic's website: https://satellogic.com/ Emiliano's Twitter: https://twitter.com/earlkman?lang=en Emiliano's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ekargieman/?originalSubdomain=ar Payload's first Q+A with Emiliano: https://payloadspace.com/satellogic-interview/ Satellogic and Astraea Ukraine imagery collaboration: https://payloadspace.com/satellogic-and-astraea-create-platform-for-ukraine-imagery/ Satellogic launches new satellites on SpaceX's Transporter-4 mission: https://payloadspace.com/spacex-launches-transporter-4/ And SpaceX's Transporter-5 mission: https://payloadspace.com/spacex-launches-transporter-5/   Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand. While we have designs on becoming the biggest space content company in the galaxy, for now, we send newsletters and publish podcasts. Subscribe to our flagship industry-leading daily newsletter at payloadspace.com
01:00:17
August 16, 2022
Tackling space trash: Dr. Moriba Jah on Privateer's gameplan, protecting the orbital commons, and how we perceive risk
Tackling space trash: Dr. Moriba Jah on Privateer's gameplan, protecting the orbital commons, and how we perceive risk
On today's episode of the Pathfinder podcast, we’re tackling the topic of space junk. We’re very fortunate to have Dr. Moriba Jah, one of the world’s foremost authorities on this topic, joining us this week. Moriba is an astrodynamicist, space environmentalist, and associate professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at UT Austin (obligatory 'hook em' from Ryan). Moriba is also the chief scientist and cofounder of Privateer, with Alex Fielding and Steve “Woz” Wozniak. Privateer, which stayed highly secretive until relatively recently, bills itself as “a data and intelligence platform empowering the future of space sustainability.” Today’s Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems (www.spideroak-ms.com), an industry leader in cybersecurity.  In the simplest of terms, Moriba specializes in studying and predicting the motion of objects in space. It’s a hot topic at the moment, given recent uncontrolled spacecraft reentries, the growing pile of junk in LEO, and the rising importance of space domain awareness (SDA) and space traffic management (STM). Moriba walks us through his framework for thinking about the orbital commons. Among other things, we discuss… The perception of risk and uncertainty The criticality of accurate measurements How, when, and where national governments are responsible and liable for debris build-up and the downstream consequences The geopolitical calculus of maintaining the orbital commons, and the challenges of multilateral coordination Moriba’s efforts to “recruit empathy” for space environmentalism and reach a wide swath of the general public A tragedy of the orbital commons…but also, reasons to be optimistic In the back half of the episode, we focus on Privateer and work through the following questions: Where does the startup get its data and how could the wisdom of crowds come into play? What does the tech stack look like? How is Privateer thinking about its own orbital assets and hosted payloads? Where will it buy vs. build? What types of organizations will be the power users of Privateer’s platform and the Wayfinder product, if the startup succeeds in its goal? Come for Moriba’s insightful takes on the serious matters at hand; stay for the dog cameo, keto detour, and wearable technology talk.
53:57
August 09, 2022
A deeptech skunkworks: Jordan Noone on 3D printing, Relativity, KittyCAD, and Embedded Ventures
A deeptech skunkworks: Jordan Noone on 3D printing, Relativity, KittyCAD, and Embedded Ventures
Today’s guest is Jordan Noone, the cofounder and founding CTO of Relativity Space. Noone now holds the same titles at Embedded Ventures, a self-described deeptech VC “skunkworks” that Noone runs with cofounder Jenna Bryant. Embedded Ventures has partnered with the US Space Force on R&D, and backed early-stage startups like Slingshot Aerospace and Inversion. Jordan is also the cofounder and CEO of KittyCAD, which aims to reinvent how engineers and companies create hardware products. On the Relativity front, Jordan helped scale up the company’s additive manufacturing capabilities and hone the rest of the startup’s tech stack. Today, Relativity’s Terran 1 is vertical on the pad in Florida for final tests, before the company conducts an orbital launch attempt this summer. Terran 1 is a 110-foot-tall expendable rocket, and according to Relativity, the largest 3D printed object to exist and to attempt orbital flight. Relativity’s first Terran 1 is 85% 3D printed by mass. Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems, (http://www.spideroak-ms.com) an industry leader in space cybersecurity. Check out their space whitepaper at spacecyber.com And now without further ado, here’s a glimpse into the range of discussion topics in today’s episode: —Background in brief —Jordan’s rebellious streaks as a student and his take on medieval history —Heading up USC’s Rocket Propulsion Lab, a finishing school for rocket junkies —Interning, then working full-time, at SpaceX —Meeting cofounder Tim Ellis (who was on Pathfinder #0009) —Becoming the youngest person to get an FAA license to launch a rocket to space —Getting accepted into and graduating from Y Combinator (YC W16, to be exact) —The advantages of 3D printing combustion chambers, engines, and other rocket parts —All the other aspects of Relativity’s tech stack that differentiate it from other rocket makers —Why Jordan left Relativity after roughly five years —Bringing the design and product ethos of Silicon Valley to the world of defense —Graduating from startup founder to the other side of the boardroom table: VC investor —Market conditions and what Jordan’s seeing with pricing rounds, startup valuations, etc. —The downstream effects of space SPACs on future industry financing —Conflicted cap tables and the geopolitical aspects of venture capital —Leading KittyCAD, which brings software automation to the hardware world —Building the Stripe of the hardware world …and much more! This was a long one, and there’s plenty of other great nuggets and stories buried in the full episode. We’ll leave it to you to discover them yourselves. Today’s episode is Pathfinder #0010, which means we’ve made it into the double digits. So far, so good. We’ll see you soon at Pathfinder #0100. Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand that also publishes newsletters and hosts events around the US. Subscribe to our industry-leading daily newsletter at payloadspace.com See you back here next week!
01:14:48
August 02, 2022
Printing Rockets: Relativity's Tim Ellis on making life multiplanetary, Terran 1's maiden flight, and the economics of launch
Printing Rockets: Relativity's Tim Ellis on making life multiplanetary, Terran 1's maiden flight, and the economics of launch
On today’s episode of Pathfinder, we’re joined by Tim Ellis, the CEO and cofounder of Relativity Space. Tim was in his twenties when he started Relativity Space with cofounder Jordan Noone six and a half years ago. Fast forward to today. Relativity’s 3D-printed Terran 1 rocket is at the pad in Cape Canaveral and an orbital launch is “weeks away,” Tim tells us. Relativity also recently announced that it’s secured more than $1.2B+ worth of launch agreements for the forthcoming, fully reusable Terran R rocket. There are more customer contract announcements to come, Tim says. In fact, just since we recorded 12 days ago, Relativity announced a highly ambitious commercial Mars mission with Impulse Space. Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems, an industry leader in space cybersecurity. What we cover in Pathfinder #0009…a sneak peek Tim’s non-linear path into aerospace at USC, where he was part of the first student group to launch a rocket to space and interned back-to-back-to-back at Blue Origin Then, Tim and Jordan would go on to get accepted into Y Combinator, cold-email Mark Cuban, and successfully pitch their pre-revenue, pre-product startup to other big investors. Relativity is scaling headcount quickly. Relativity had 100 employees before Covid; it now has 850 and expects to hit 1,000 soon. The company is also ramping up production, having expanded into a 1M square foot facility in Long Beach, CA. “Our momentum towards Terran R is significant,” Tim says. We walk through the unique parts of Relativity’s rocket-making stack, from propulsion to reusability to additive manufacturing. 3D printing is “the holy grail of automation technologies for aerospace,” Tim opines, and Relativity’s 3D printing efforts span a few hundred employees. Eventually, the company’s 3D printers may be useful in other industries. We ask Tim how he’s navigating market turbulence and whether Relativity A) has taken a valuation haircut, B) will need to raise again soon, or C) if it ever considered going public via SPAC. Tim shares his thoughts on the economics of launch and where the market is saturated vs. undersupplied. …and much more. Over the course of an hour, our conversation took us from writing novels and Fight Club to interplanetary travel and chilling on Mars with a Corona. We hope you’ll learn as much as we did.
01:03:01
July 26, 2022
Up the Stack: Kevin Weil on leading product at Planet, Earth observation, going public, and Ukraine
Up the Stack: Kevin Weil on leading product at Planet, Earth observation, going public, and Ukraine
On this week's episode of the Pathfinder podcast, Ryan sits down with Kevin Weil, president of product and business at Planet ($PL), a ~$1.3B Earth-imaging company based in San Francisco. Kevin joined Planet last April to accelerate software and data product development (or help the company move “up the stack”). Before he worked in commercial space, Kevin held leadership roles at Silicon Valley mainstays that have become household names, like Twitter and Instagram. He managed products with hundreds of millions of daily active users. Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems — www.spideroak-ms.com — an industry leader in space cybersecurity.  Sneak peek of our conversation Kevin’s journey from studying particle physics to Silicon Valley startups and quickly shipping code Twitter’s leadership taking a chance on Kevin and how he grew with the company from 2009 to 2016 Working at an autonomous Instagram and eventually cofounding Meta’s cryptocurrency project What convinced Kevin to jump ship to the new space industry? How much of Kevin’s experience was transferable from the consumer social world to product at Planet? Selling to governments vs. commercial users The “one-to-many” model and what Planet does differently than competitors Going public via SPAC and the pressures of being publicly traded “Our growth is accelerating” and “we have a proven business model” Acquiring VanderSat and launching Planetary Variables Planet imagery shaping the general public’s understanding of the Ukraine war “Bringing transparency is a massive positive, even if sometimes that means you capture some of the bad things that happen in the world.” How does Planet prevent abuse or misuse of its data and imagery? What does Kevin wish he could change overnight in the EO industry? Helpful links-  Kevin's Twitter handle: twitter.com/kevinweil Check out Planet’s Snapshots newsletter: learn.planet.com/Snapshots_newsletter_Subscription.html Via Planet CEO Will Marshall, announcing Kevin's hiring last March - planet.com/pulse/preparing-to-scale-planet-welcomes-kevin-weil-as-president-product-and-business/ - "It’s a delight that our business increasingly looks like that of a software company, with product features driven by software advances that deliver value on top of our satellite data. As Planet accelerates as a data and analytics company, we’re bringing on top Silicon Valley software talent to add to Planet’s team. Which brings me to Kevin.  Kevin is a proven leader with a track record of leading software and data product organizations through hyper-growth, and delivering market-making customer solutions — a mindset and body of experience that aligns perfectly with Planet’s high-growth business objectives.  Kevin has built and scaled teams and products at the world’s fastest growing and most consequential companies. Kevin was one of Twitter’s first 50 employees and ultimately became its SVP of Product, leading its consumer, developer, and monetization products as the company went public and scaled to over $2bn in revenue." -- Pathfinder is brought to you by Payload, a modern space media brand. Subscribe to our industry-leading daily newsletter at payloadspace.com
01:02:14
July 19, 2022
The Orbital Age: Sierra Space's Tom Vice on Dream Chaser, Orbital Reef, and his space restaurant
The Orbital Age: Sierra Space's Tom Vice on Dream Chaser, Orbital Reef, and his space restaurant
On this week's episode of the Pathfinder podcast, Ryan sits down with Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice. His one-year anniversary as chief executive is one week from today (July 19). In the last year, Sierra has: - Raised a $1.4B (yes, billion) Series A. - Announced that it will build the Orbital Reef space station with Blue Origin, Boeing, Redwire, and others. - Readied Dream Chaser for its first orbital flight and identified new runways around the world for the spaceplane to land. - Created an astronaut program, led by company president and former NASA astronaut Janet Kavandi. So, needless to say, Sierra has been keeping busy. We couldn't have picked a better time to talk with Tom and check in on the company's progress. Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems — www.spideroak-ms.com — an industry leader in space cybersecurity. Check out the company’s space cybersecurity white paper at spacecyber.com Pathfinder 0007 topics:  Tom's resume. He spent a few decades rising through the ranks and eventually served as president of Northrop Grumman’s aerospace unit before he moved into startupland.  What he can talk about from his Northrop days (ie, what's been declassified) vs. what still requires a security clearance Air and space are the proving ground for autonomy technologies Why did the space company spin out of Sierra Nevada Corp. last year? Sierra Space's cap table and fortifying the balance sheet before a market downtown The space platform play...Dream Chaser is the transportation, Orbital Reef is the destination, and then there's all the space applications What's the best historical precedent or analogy for where the space industry is at in this moment in time? Tom's visions for the future, with a constellation of private space stations and thousands living and working in space Sierra's growth from 1,000 employees at the end of 2021 to 1,800+ now For All Mankind When is Tom going to space? ...and more. There's plenty of mind-boggling bits baked into this conversation, from manipulating the electromagnetic spectrum to peering back in time with JWST to Tom's concept for an Asian fusion restaurant in low-Earth orbit. Tom's LinkedIn bio: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomvice/ The two parts of the bio we discuss: 1) "It is amazing to me that today we are flying at the same speed we were in 1958 when the Boeing 707 was introduced. In general aviation, the speed of the aircraft has only improved by 10% over 50 years." 2) "We will enable humanity to live, work, explore, and vacation in Space!"
46:50
July 12, 2022
The Macro View: Mo Islam on the economy, aerospace and defense investing, and starting Payload
The Macro View: Mo Islam on the economy, aerospace and defense investing, and starting Payload
On this week’s episode of the Pathfinder podcast, Ryan sits down with Mo Islam, who is his boss and the cofounder/CEO of Payload.    Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems — www.spideroak-ms.com — an industry leader in space cybersecurity. Check out the company’s space cybersecurity white paper at spacecyber.com.    A Payload on Payload interview? It’s like the Spiderman pointing at another Spiderman meme. Jokes aside, Ryan invited Mo on to discuss a presentation he prepared for the Payload team at their recent off-site meeting. This week’s episode focuses on an adapted version of the deck and what’s happening within the macroeconomy.    What we cover:   Mo’s Wall Street background   Starting Payload   Inflation, a possible recession, and the global food crisis   How it’s all connected to the space industry   Consumer credit, COVID-19, and a “systemic failure in the crypto industry”   Aerospace and defense (A&D) outperformance over other indices Tech valuation compressions   A record year for space investing The next chapter of the space industry Is Starship priced in?    ...and much more! It's a great conversation and we're super excited for you to hear it. Thanks to Mo for coming on Pathfinder!
01:03:11
July 05, 2022
Escaping Gravity: Lori Garver on leading the commercial space charge at NASA, her new book, and speaking truth to power
Escaping Gravity: Lori Garver on leading the commercial space charge at NASA, her new book, and speaking truth to power
Welcome to the fifth episode of Pathfinder, a weekly show where Payload managing editor and host Ryan Duffy sits down with the top shot-callers in space. Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems — www.spideroak-ms.com — an industry leader in space cybersecurity. Check out the company’s space cybersecurity white paper here. On Pathfinder 0005, Ryan sits down with Lori Garver, the former deputy administrator of NASA and author of the new book: “Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age.” In the tell-all memoir, Lori writes with refreshing candidness and colorful copy about the uphill battle to change the agency, contracting, and commercial procurement practices from within. Per Escaping Gravity’s cover description, “from inside the space agency, Garver collaborated with key players such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and President Obama to usher in a more peaceful, inclusive and meaningful space age.” Lori led the NASA transition team for then-President-elect Barack Obama and would eventually go on to be the second-in-command at the US space agency. During her tenure, Lori was widely credited for ushering in a new era of competition in commercial space. Now, Lori is a Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, an Executive in Residence at Bessemer Venture Partners, and a member of the Board of Directors for Hydrosat. Garver founded Earthrise Alliance, a philanthropic organization utilizing satellite data to address climate change, and cofounded the Brooke Owens Fellowship, an internship and mentorship program for collegiate women. Thanks to Lori for coming on Pathfinder, and for being our third video interview! And thanks to SpiderOak Mission Systems for their continued support. – If you’d like to order a copy of Escaping Gravity, you can find one from a range of retailers at www.lorigarver.com. For a signed copy, reach out to East City Books at www.eastcitybookshop.com/pre-orders/lori-garver-escaping-gravity Connect with Lori on Twitter and/or Facebook: @Lori_Garver – Sign up for Payload’s industry-leading daily newsletter at www.payloadspace.com
01:04:40
June 29, 2022
American Dynamism: a16z's Katherine Boyle on A&D investing, dual-use tech, and space optimism
American Dynamism: a16z's Katherine Boyle on A&D investing, dual-use tech, and space optimism
Welcome to the fourth episode of Pathfinder, a weekly show where Payload managing editor and host Ryan Duffy sits down with the top shot-callers in space. Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems — www.spideroak-ms.com — an industry leader in space cybersecurity. Check out their space cybersecurity white paper at www.spacecyber.com On Pathfinder 0004, Ryan sits down with Katherine Boyle, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz (or a16z, for short). Katherine heads up a16z’s American Dynamism practice, where she invests in companies involved in national security, aerospace and defense, public safety, housing, education, and industrials. Katherine recently led the firm’s investment in Hadrian, a software-defined precision machining startup serving the aerospace and defense sectors. Prior to a16z, Katherine was a partner at General Catalyst, and before that, cut her VC teeth at Founders Fund. She was also a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post before moving out to Silicon Valley and started her investing career. Katherine is a prolific writer and deep thinker on aerospace and defense, the US national interest, dual-use technology, and the relationship between Silicon Valley and Washington. As you can see below, we had a wide-ranging conversation on Pathfinder 0004. Disclaimer, via a16z: "The content here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal, business, tax, or investment advice, or be used to evaluate any investment or security and is not directed at any investors or potential investors in any a16z fund." Pathfinder is powered by Payload, a modern space media brand. Subscribe to our industry-leading daily newsletter at payloadspace.com. Thanks again to SpiderOak Mission Systems for supporting Pathfinder.
54:20
June 21, 2022
Assembling a Great Crew: Lauren Lyons on Building Space Products, Startup Culture, Competition, Recruiting, and Company-Building
Assembling a Great Crew: Lauren Lyons on Building Space Products, Startup Culture, Competition, Recruiting, and Company-Building
Welcome to the third episode of Pathfinder, a weekly show where Payload managing editor and host Ryan Duffy sits down with the top shot-callers in space. Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems — www.spideroak-ms.com — an industry leader in space cybersecurity. Check out their space cybersecurity white paper at www.spacecyber.com Joining us this week is Lauren Lyons, a space industry consultant, startup advisor, and STEM evangelist. Lauren is working on a new venture, but most recently, was COO of Firefly Aerospace. Before that, Lauren held senior engineering roles at Blue Origin and SpaceX. While at Blue, Lauren worked on the company’s lunar lander and Orbital Reef programs. At SpaceX, Lauren worked on the development/certification of Crew Dragon; the launch of Starlink; chief engineering and mission assurance for Falcon 9 and Dragon; and Falcon 9 mission management. Rather casually, she also hosted launch livestreams for a variety of missions, including the Emmy-winning Demo 1. She makes a cameo on Return to Space, the Netflix documentary that aired in April. Lauren estimates these streams were just 5% of her time/duties…so needless to say, she kept busy. In Pathfinder #0003, Lauren and Ryan discuss: – Her winding career path through time and space – How working as a medical device R&D engineer helped prepare Lauren for SpaceX – Seeing friends on social media celebrate launching their spacecraft on Transporter missions – Operational efficiency and seeing SpaceX hit its stride – Launching Starlink – HLS, Orbital Reef work @ Blue Origin – Team Space is "super mission-oriented and mission-driven" – Competing with Big Tech for talent – The role of company culture in shipping space products successfully – Lean startup operations during downturns – Life after SpaceX, for Lauren and her coworkers – Reducing the barriers to entry for space entrepreneurs – The SpaceX mafia and new deeptech startups/verticals – What the general public gets wrong about the space sector – Lauren & Ryan's shared love for the Supernatural VR fitness app – Moving past "space is hard"  …and more! Pathfinder is powered by Payload, a modern space media brand. Subscribe to our industry-leading daily newsletter at payloadspace.com. Thanks again to SpiderOak Mission Systems for supporting Pathfinder. Finally, as Ryan mentioned in the conversation before the break, here’s the thread from Payload Director of Operations Jess Lis about investing in deeptech during downturns: https://twitter.com/jessicaxlis/status/1530262449139724290
01:03:20
June 14, 2022
Back to the Moon: Rob Meyerson on Building Blue Origin and the Lunar Economy
Back to the Moon: Rob Meyerson on Building Blue Origin and the Lunar Economy
Welcome to Pathfinder, a new weekly show where Payload Managing Editor Ryan Duffy sits down with the shot-callers in space to discuss all the top news and trends beyond Earth. Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems, an industry leader in space cybersecurity. Check out their space cybersecurity white paper here. In Pathfinder #0002, Ryan sits down with Rob Meyerson, the founder and CEO of Delalune Space and former president of Blue Origin. While at Blue Origin, Rob reported directly to Jeff Bezos, oversaw Blue’s growth from 10 to 1,500 employees, and managed development of New Shepard, among many other programs. Rob has also worked at NASA and Kistler Aerospace. Delalune is a management consulting firm serving the aerospace, mobility, technology, and financial services sectors. At Delalune, which literally means “of the moon,” Rob backs and advises leading aerospace startups, including Axiom Space. While he spends plenty of time in the private markets, Rob also sits at the junction of space and public capital markets. He is the CEO of C5 Acquisition Corp., a blank-check company seeking a SPAC merger “at the leading edge of national security innovation in space, cybersecurity, and energy transition.” Early on in the discussion, Rob shares his thoughts on why investors would be ill-advised to avoid investing in space during our current market downturn. Later on, Rob and Ryan drill down on the products and services NASA is looking to buy rather than build or operate itself. Rob also surveys the technologies we’ll need to build, buy, deploy, and launch to ensure an expeditious return to the Moon and sustained presence on the lunar surface. We touch on building out the lunar economy, then consider all the other puzzle pieces that humanity will need to assemble to not only go back to the Moon, but also set the stage for a lasting multiplanetary future. Pathfinder is powered by Payload, a modern space media brand. Subscribe to our industry-leading daily newsletter here. 
44:28
June 07, 2022
Your Next Space Landlord: Axiom's Michael Suffredini on Private Space Stations
Your Next Space Landlord: Axiom's Michael Suffredini on Private Space Stations
Welcome to Pathfinder, a new weekly show where Payload Managing Editor Ryan Duffy sits down with the top shot-callers in space. In Pathfinder #0001, we speak with Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space.  Axiom is a Houston-based space startup unicorn. Axiom is building a space station, brokering private spaceflight missions with SpaceX, and even has a slot at the International Space Station (ISS) with its name on it. If you can't tell, we love saying the word space.  Suffredini is one of the world’s foremost authorities on building and operating space stations. He spent three decades at NASA and 10 years as the ISS program manager, before hanging up his space agency cleats and starting Axiom with Kam Ghaffarian.  In April, Axiom clinched a world, or maybe intergalactic, first. Together with SpaceX, Axiom launched Ax-1, the first all-private mission to the ISS. In our conversation, recorded in early May, Suffredini shares plenty with us on Ax-1, Axiom's business model, his time at NASA, Tom Cruise's LEO movie, in-space manufacturing, and much more.  Pathfinder's first episode is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems, an industry leader in space cybersecurity.  Pathfinder is powered by Payload, a modern space media brand. Subscribe to our industry leading daily newsletter here. 
47:53
May 31, 2022