This has been my lifelong mission, as an entrepreneur and investor. This is why I founded Global Space Ventures and serve on the board of the XPRIZE Foundation, the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board (DSB) and NATO’s Unmanned Maritime Systems Innovation Advisory Board.
Along the way, I partnered to build iconic companies with visionary entrepreneurs, starting with Elon Musk and SpaceX which pioneered reusable launch technology and proliferated LEO satellite constellation architecture enabling a 100x decrease in space access cost, low-latency broadband internet and communications for consumers and government users, leveraging a modular spacecraft bus capable of hosting and integrating a variety of sensors and payloads.
Other examples include Colossal Biosciences pioneering advanced gene editing technology with Harvard Professor George Church, SparkCognition deploying leading AI-powered solutions across the globe, and Lynk which pioneered cell-towers in space technology enabling satellite-direct-to-standard-mobile phone connectivity with continuous global coverage, and mobile network operators to expand mobile coverage in areas without land-based cell-towers.
I also had the privilege to partner with Dmitry Starson, as co-founder of Escape Dynamics to advance beamed-energy propulsion technology. For long, beamed-energy propulsion technology was the stuff of science fiction—until Escape Dynamics came to be, and the dedication of our team of Caltech and MIT scientists and the results of our R&D program brought beamed energy propulsion onto the NASA Technology Roadmap in 2015.
In recognition for our team’s work in significantly advancing the state-of-the-art for beamed energy technology, Escape Dynamics, Inc. (EDI) was featured on the cover of Aviation Week Magazine, named as the “#3 Most Innovative Space Company” by Fast Company (behind SpaceX and Blue Origin), and named as one of the “2015 Top 10 Most Innovative Space Technologies” by Scientific American.
EDI’s external propulsion launch system relies on wireless energy transfer to deliver power to the launch vehicle as it ascends into orbit. Microwave energy is beamed from a terrestrial phased array of antennas which tracks the launch vehicle through the ascent trajectory. The microwave energy is absorbed by a ceramic matrix composite (CMC) heat exchanger on the belly of the vehicle, transferred to a flow of hydrogen propellant which is exhausted through a nozzle on the back of the vehicle generating highly efficient, combustion-free thrust.
EDI’s Colorado-based lab served as home for our R&D efforts, machining, and indoors testing areas.
Science & Technology
Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky is famed for “the rocket equation,” the essential theory that has formed the foundation of the first half century of space exploration. But in The Spaceship, published in 1924, he proposed that the most efficient manner of going into space would not be to use chemical propulsion, as we do now, but rather to beam energy — electromagnetic rays of short wavelength — to a spacecraft. Key technological breakthroughs including gyrotron technology, the advent of phased arrays, the Marx Modulator, and ceramic matrix composites have been critical components in the development of this system. While further technological advancements are still necessary, this radical vision, first proposed nearly a century ago, could one day become the launch system of the future. In the meantime, high power microwave systems also offer tremendous potential for defense applications.