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Pangea Aerospace – A greener and cost affordable launch system

With every innovative idea that the world has witnessed, there came an opportunity to unite people who have a common interest and a vision to make a difference.

We at the Swiss Institute for Disruptive Innovation have been fortunate to have a little talk about the flourishing future of Pangea Aerospace in the Space Economy.

Our aim is always to give wings to a community that not only opens doors for new players but also sustains companies that can dare to think out of the box.

We caught up with the CEO of Pangea Aerospace, Adrià Argemí, to know more about future possibilities of space economy.

1) Tell us what Pangea Aerospace is about & where do you wish to see it by the end of this decade

Pangea Aerospace is a space startup founded in 2018 to lower the cost of accessing space. We are developing key technologies like- propulsion based on an unconventional rocket engine: the Aerospike which can boost efficiency up to 15% when compared to a typical rocket engine. Secondly, a recovery system that allows for the entire reusability of a booster stage. Currently, we are about to hot-fire test our first engine demonstrator later in the year to validate all the research we have been doing since the foundation. We are looking forward to having the first-ever flying aerospike that will demonstrate its superiority over the long-used Bell engines. We envision that the space race will be very competitive, and performance and reusability will be key to be successful.

2) How did the idea for this technology first come about? Can you simplify it for those of us who are not familiar with space engineering?

I have always been very interested in propulsion in general, in how aircraft or rocket engines work and are designed. During my studies and my first professional experiences, I tried to keep myself very informed about research studies on rocket engines, specifically about aerospikes.

This type of rocket engine has been in the theory books for ages and even some prototypes have been made and tested. Compared to the conventional bell-shaped rocket engines that work optimally only at one altitude, aerospikes are optimal throughout the whole ascent trajectory. Such improvement is given by its intrinsic design that uses the ambient pressure as an expanding layer to freely expand the flow at all given points.

However, traditionally aerospikes are difficult to manufacture and simultaneously cool while it is functioning. To combat that issue, we are using 3D printing extensively. Thanks to innovative copper-based alloys and the latest processes in additive manufacturing, we have figured out the first demonstrator that will be tested later in the year.

3) What are the challenges you had to face? Which ones are you still facing?

For technology, this new, funding is a constant challenge. It has been pivotal for us to properly structure our funding rounds in the function of the maturity of the company. We have overcome many technical challenges so far and bootstrapped many solutions to quickly advance to our next step.

The biggest obstacle that we are facing is technical, as the demonstrator that will be tested later this year is the first of its kind. There is little to no literature about 3D printed aerospikes, so it becomes daunting to design something absolutely new. However, we are implementing a lot of smart ideas into our design tools and developing new processes and setting high standards for highly complex additively manufactured parts.

4) Who is Adrià Argemí, apart from being the CEO and founder of Pangea Aerospace?

I spend my time away from Pangea mostly enjoying motorcycling and motorsports in general and, of course, around good food and drinks with family and friends. I see myself as an optimistic person and my main goal right now is to drive Pangea Aerospace to success helping the company where it is needed the most.

5) Could you share something about the other co-founders and what drew them to Pangea Aerospace? What brings this company close to your heart?

I have 5 amazing co-founders. Federico Rossi is the head of propulsion and probably one of the most knowledgeable guys in aerospike propulsion in Europe. He comes from Italy and is driven by his passion for rocket engines. Rasmus Bergström is our Swedish co-founder and is responsible for our proprietary recovery system. He comes from a place of passion for Aerospace Engineering and Nicola, from Italy, is our expert in materials, structures and mechanics. Then we have Xavier and Luis, who studied together at Esade Business School and are our business experts. Luis is the CFO and Xavier brings his expertise in strategy, innovation and public relations.

6) Which international partners are you currently working with?

We are constantly looking for potential partners and collaborators to be able to provide the best technology in the market.

We are leading a European Commission H2020 research project called RRTB (www.rrtb.eu) to investigate our recovery technology that involves several top-notch European companies and institutions. We have joined hands with Thales Alenia, Deimos Space, Von Karman Institute, Achen and Munich universities, Heron engineering and Toseda.

We have recently closed a partnership agreement with an additive manufacturing company in Spain called Aenium, to investigate and qualify complex metal alloys for our high performing engines.

7) What’s the best advice you’ve recently received?

The best advice I have received is that it is okay to prioritize and ask for help. Sometimes you get drowned by the daily tasks and it is important to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Being able to properly identify the key elements and delegate has been an interesting learning curve for me.

8) What keeps you going when things get tough?

The team’s motivation and support gets me going when I can’t go anymore. All the founders at Pangea are united towards one goal and we take care of each other. We understand that we are building a company based on a very ambitious goal where resilience is the key to keep us on our path. We are fully aware that we are running a marathon and we keep track of the whole team to have a steady pace towards our next milestone.

9) What’s your greatest fear as an entrepreneur?

The fear of focusing too much on some details and losing track of what’s going on in the aerospace sector. We try to keep ourselves updated to ensure that we are developing the best technologies for our potential clients.

SIDI was founded in 2019, together with Mars Planet Technology, the European Center for Space Exploration and Colonization (ECSEC), which aims to democratize access to the space market…..

Read more: The Space according ECSEC Co-Founder

10) What advice would you give to start-ups or traditional companies to seize the opportunities that space already represents?

The space market is radically transforming and growing and there are a lot of opportunities to seize. However, space is difficult, and it takes quite some time to understand the whole value chain of the sector, the different industries within the sector (telecom is very different from rocket propulsion for instance). So my advice would be that, “before launching a venture, study and explore the possible sectors about the economy”.

Read more: Space economy - Who is going to win the game

So this was Adrià Argemí, the CEO of Pangea Aerospace, giving us a sneak peek into what his venture is all about and we couldn’t be more proud to join hands with them and exploring the skies….

Read more: ECSEC has landed on Earth

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