Today’s Pathfinder episode features Leon Alkalai, former Technical Fellow of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and now the founder of Mandala Space Ventures.
Today’s Pathfinder episode features Leon Alkalai, former technical fellow of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and now the founder of Mandala Space Ventures. We dive into some of the missions he helped lead during his 32 years at JPL, including the GRAIL mission in 2007, which mapped the Moon’s gravitational field, and the Insight Lander in 2012, a first-of-its-kind mission to explore Mars’ deep interior. Leon now runs Mandala, a combination of space venture studio meets venture fund.
In addition to all this, Mo and Leon discuss:
- The history of NASA JPL
- Commercializing JPL technologies
- The venture studio approach to space
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 https://spideroak.com/
• Chapters •
00:00 – Intro & SpiderOak
01:20 – Leon’s PhD
01:49 – How did Leon end up at JPL
04:08 – Freshly minted PhD. What’s next?
07:55 – JPL & NASA
11:51 – Missions at JPL Leon is most proud of
17:34 – Recovering the gravity of the Moon
21:39 – SpiderOak Ad
27:52 – Mandala Space Ventures
32:08 – The venture studio model
35:15 – Most value added to businesses
37:13 – How to view the industry
39:48 – What you look for in a company and what are some red flags?
41:21 – How does Leon build a team
43:59 – Technology that excites Leon
48:42 – A Starship future