Capitalism in space: Two former NASA managers have teamed up with two commercial businessman to form a startup, dubbed Quantum Space, to launch an unmanned platform to lunar space to provide support for NASA’s Artemis program.
The team includes Steve Jurczyk, who spent thirty years at NASA and finished his career there before retiring serving as acting NASA administrator for the first three months of the Biden administration.
Jurczyk is one of the three co-founders of Quantum Space. Another is Ben Reed, former division chief of exploration and in-space services at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and who worked on satellite servicing projects there. He is the chief technology officer of Quantum Space. The third co-founder is Kam Ghaffarian, who also helped start commercial space station company Axiom Space and lunar lander developer Intuitive Machines after selling Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies. They’re joined by Kerry Wisnosky, the co-founder and former principal owner of Millennium Engineering and Integration, who is the chief operating officer of Quantum Space.
Their plan is to launch their platform and robots to the Earth-Moon L1 point, the spot where the gravitational spheres of influence of the Earth and Moon meet, about 40,000 miles from the Moon.
The outpost … would consist of two components. One is a spacecraft bus that serves as a platform for hosting payloads, using modular “plug-and-play” interfaces. The other is a spacecraft that would deliver payloads to the platform and install them using robotic manipulators.
Those payloads could include communications, navigation, remote sensing, space domain awareness and space weather sensors, Jurczyk said. Those payloads would primarily come from customers, but he said the company is looking at developing its own payloads, particularly for imaging of the Earth and moon.
They hope to launch their first satellite by ’25.
Like the insiders who run Axiom, these guys are taking advantage of their experience at NASA to build a private space company that will serve NASA’s needs. They are also recognizing that in the coming years, everything NASA “does” will be done by private companies. This company is their effort to jump on that bandwagon.
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