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Silicon Valley Monthly Lunch

  • Baylands Cafe 1875 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA, 94303 United States (map)


  • $22 for talk and buffet lunch. Without registration, you will not be served the buffet lunch.

  • $5 for talk only.

Registration deadline: 12pm on the Tuesday preceding the talk. If you miss the deadline, please pay $5 at the door and you could order food from Baylands Café.

"Next Generation Space Shuttles: Use Water as Propellant to Revolutionize Space Transportation" by Joel Sercel, CTO of Momentus (MS ‘87, PhD ‘93)

In this talk, I will tell you the story of Momentus.

With water-based plasma-rocket technology powering shuttle service for satellites, Momentus provides the safest and most cost effective in-space transportation option available for satellites and spacecraft ranging in size from fist-sized microsats to multi-ton GEOs. In just four months, we developed and delivered a flight propulsion system for our technology-demonstration mission, El Camino Real. El Camino Real will fly in July of 2019, paving the way for commercial operations planning to start in 2020.

We plan to operate our first service, Vigoride, as a multimodal transportation service, carrying constellations of CubeSats or smallsats to their destinations in LEO, from piggyback launches starting in early 2020. We will get into space on dedicated launches by the new generation of small commercial rockets, piggybacking on large rockets, or NASA-contracted commercial carriers to the International Space Station.

By late 2020, our goal is to have our Vigoride Extended shuttle available to provide deep space services, including delivering payloads to GEO, lunar orbit, asteroids, and trans Mars injection, with Vigoride Extended having the ability to deliver 300 kg satellites to GEO or 200 kg payloads to lunar orbit for a fee of $4.8 million post launch. After Vigoride, our roadmap includes evolving to large-scale reusable space tugs that resupply their water propellant tanks from orbital depots, replenished later from asteroid and lunar feedstocks.

We have raised over $9M in Seed financing, and we are entering into a $25M Series A investment round this summer. These investments are on the basis of having signed over $400m in letters of intent from customers and more than $25M in binding contracts for in-space transportation services.

About our Speaker

Joel is the CTO of Momentus, where he leads the design and development of the Vigoride, Vigoride Extended, and Ardoride systems. He received his PhD from Caltech in microwave plasma propulsion and has more than three decades of experience and expertise in space technology and innovation. He was a Principal Engineer and Project Manager at the JPL, where he formulated the NSTAR project, which led to the first deep space application of ion propulsion and the Dawn spacecraft flying to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres. He is a four-time NASA Innovative Advance Concepts (NIAC) Fellow, and a leading expert on how to harvest water from planetary bodies for space transportation services