Crew and Cargo Transport, with Hélène Huby (The Exploration Company)


Today’s Pathfinder pod features Hélène Huby, the cofounder and CEO of The Exploration Company, a developer of affordable, modular, and reusable spacecraft capable of missions to Earth orbit and the Moon.


Since stints at Airbus and ArianeGroup, Hélène Huby has shifted her focus to developing the Nyx spacecraft, Europe’s first privately funded cargo and crew capsule – a significant step for ESA’s future in the global space race. As of now, Europe does not have its own operational cargo or crew capsule and has relied on the capabilities of the US and Russia.

Huby has already made significant progress securing the largest Series A financing for a European space startup – a €40.5 million round in February of 2023. In addition to The Exploration Company’s origin story, Mo and Helene discuss:

  • The first launch in 2024
  • Nyx vs. Starliner vs. Crew Dragon
  • Capsule design challenges
  • Why Europe does not have a capsule

And much more…

This episode is brought to you by SpiderOak, a US-based software company that builds space cybersecurity products and solutions for civilian, military, and commercial space operations. Learn more at

• Chapters •

00:00 – Intro & SpiderOak Ad

01:50 – Helene’s background and how she started The Exploration Company

04:12 – Lack of government funded capsules in Europe

08:58 – Why build crew capsules?

13:15 – The Nyx capsule

16:26 – Fuel selection

18:37 – Nyx vs. Starliner vs. Crew Dragon

21:11 – Design challenges shifting from cargo to human

24:43 – The product roadmap

28:23 – SpiderOak Ad break

29:10 – The business model

31:23 – Is there a market for a space station?

37:17 – Building and R&D for a space station with and without government aid

41:49 – Commercial traction

44:20 – Being the first privately funded crew capsule

48:28 – The long-term vision