The space industry is booming and startups are flourishing. How does one go about devising a plan for entering the industry? We spoke with Simon Gwozdz, the CEO of Equatorial Space Industries, a Singapore-based startup that is developing a hybrid-propelled launch vehicle. We asked him about the firm’s origins and what it is doing to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack.
Where did the idea for Equatorial Space Industries come from?
I always wanted to get involved in space tech, but thought it was out of reach of an ordinary person without prior experience and deep pockets. During my university days, I connected with the NewSpace community in Singapore and began volunteering for some events locally. Around the same time, I picked up some books on the subjects of orbital mechanics and rocket propulsion to get a little more understanding of how it actually works. Having had some conversations with satellite developers, I understood the need for flexible and agile launch capability. Considering our geographic location, near the equator, the concept of Equatorial Space Industries just clicked.
Given that the space industry is expanding rapidly, where do you see ESI fitting into the landscape?
The developments in the space industry worldwide are exciting, but surely very challenging to a new entrant. The small launch industry is becoming increasingly competitive, with less and less room for innovation. At ESI, we are confident recent advances in hybrid propulsion will enable price-point disruption not only for launch vehicles, but also for planetary exploration purposes. Non-toxic and non-cryogenic propellants, as well as the throttling and restartability capabilities, are very promising in terms of potentially replacing hypergolic liquid fuels for deep space missions. Challenges remain, but we know we stand a great chance in getting these technologies airborne in the very near future.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurial people who would like to do something in the space industry?
Space tech is actually more welcoming than most people realize – and I have had the pleasure of speaking and working with people from very different fields who bridged the gap between their own expertise and the space industry. Do not be deterred by lack of prior experience, but treasure the guidance and knowledge that your seniors offer – it will help you avoid many pitfalls which claimed some very exciting startups in the past. Also, think ahead of the curve instead of chasing after old ideas and methods, which is true for all kinds of startups. Lastly, appreciate all support you can get – you’ll need it.