Barry Matsumori on Solar System Logistics


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 and download the new NSR/SpiderOak sponsored whitepaper, titled “Space Cybersecurity – Current State and Future Needs,” at


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?