53 min

Tackling space trash: Dr. Moriba Jah on Privateer's gameplan, protecting the orbital commons, and how we perceive risk Pathfinder

    • Investing

On today's episode of the Pathfinder podcast, we’re tackling the topic of space junk. We’re very fortunate to have Dr. Moriba Jah, one of the world’s foremost authorities on this topic, joining us this week.

Moriba is an astrodynamicist, space environmentalist, and associate professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at UT Austin (obligatory 'hook em' from Ryan). Moriba is also the chief scientist and cofounder of Privateer, with Alex Fielding and Steve “Woz” Wozniak. Privateer, which stayed highly secretive until relatively recently, bills itself as “a data and intelligence platform empowering the future of space sustainability.”

Today’s Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems (www.spideroak-ms.com), an industry leader in cybersecurity. 

In the simplest of terms, Moriba specializes in studying and predicting the motion of objects in space. It’s a hot topic at the moment, given recent uncontrolled spacecraft reentries, the growing pile of junk in LEO, and the rising importance of space domain awareness (SDA) and space traffic management (STM).

Moriba walks us through his framework for thinking about the orbital commons. Among other things, we discuss…


The perception of risk and uncertainty
The criticality of accurate measurements
How, when, and where national governments are responsible and liable for debris build-up and the downstream consequences
The geopolitical calculus of maintaining the orbital commons, and the challenges of multilateral coordination
Moriba’s efforts to “recruit empathy” for space environmentalism and reach a wide swath of the general public
A tragedy of the orbital commons…but also, reasons to be optimistic

In the back half of the episode, we focus on Privateer and work through the following questions:


Where does the startup get its data and how could the wisdom of crowds come into play?
What does the tech stack look like?
How is Privateer thinking about its own orbital assets and hosted payloads? Where will it buy vs. build?
What types of organizations will be the power users of Privateer’s platform and the Wayfinder product, if the startup succeeds in its goal?

Come for Moriba’s insightful takes on the serious matters at hand; stay for the dog cameo, keto detour, and wearable technology talk.

On today's episode of the Pathfinder podcast, we’re tackling the topic of space junk. We’re very fortunate to have Dr. Moriba Jah, one of the world’s foremost authorities on this topic, joining us this week.

Moriba is an astrodynamicist, space environmentalist, and associate professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at UT Austin (obligatory 'hook em' from Ryan). Moriba is also the chief scientist and cofounder of Privateer, with Alex Fielding and Steve “Woz” Wozniak. Privateer, which stayed highly secretive until relatively recently, bills itself as “a data and intelligence platform empowering the future of space sustainability.”

Today’s Pathfinder is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems (www.spideroak-ms.com), an industry leader in cybersecurity. 

In the simplest of terms, Moriba specializes in studying and predicting the motion of objects in space. It’s a hot topic at the moment, given recent uncontrolled spacecraft reentries, the growing pile of junk in LEO, and the rising importance of space domain awareness (SDA) and space traffic management (STM).

Moriba walks us through his framework for thinking about the orbital commons. Among other things, we discuss…


The perception of risk and uncertainty
The criticality of accurate measurements
How, when, and where national governments are responsible and liable for debris build-up and the downstream consequences
The geopolitical calculus of maintaining the orbital commons, and the challenges of multilateral coordination
Moriba’s efforts to “recruit empathy” for space environmentalism and reach a wide swath of the general public
A tragedy of the orbital commons…but also, reasons to be optimistic

In the back half of the episode, we focus on Privateer and work through the following questions:


Where does the startup get its data and how could the wisdom of crowds come into play?
What does the tech stack look like?
How is Privateer thinking about its own orbital assets and hosted payloads? Where will it buy vs. build?
What types of organizations will be the power users of Privateer’s platform and the Wayfinder product, if the startup succeeds in its goal?

Come for Moriba’s insightful takes on the serious matters at hand; stay for the dog cameo, keto detour, and wearable technology talk.

53 min