While Northern Virginia has no shortage of space-focused startups, an infrastructure buildout on the moon is an ambition of few.
This month, Falls Church, Virginia space startup United Space Structures (USS) appointed cofounder and industry veteran Zigmond Leszczynski as its new CEO. According to Leszczynski, USS was established to be a leader in the cislunar ecosystem, which is the region between Earth and the moon.
Using automation, AI, robotics and data technology, the company eventually hopes to establish exploration, and eventually civilization, on the moon.
The way to begin the journey, Leszczynski said, is with architectural design and infrastructure.
“I really believe in the vision of creating a space-based civilization, and how do you do that? You do that with infrastructure,” Leszczynski told Technical.ly.
Prior to his role at USS, Leszczynski led AI, analytics and innovation at The Aerospace Corporation, whose primary customers are NASA and the US Department of Defence. He also spent time at the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and served as a commander in the Navy, focused on how the branch could better use space and space resources. He was also a board member for the American Astronautical Society and is an associate fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
In the coming year, the five-person startup will be looking to launch a seed round, although it declined to disclose a timeline or funding goal.
In working on USS’ mission of cislunar infrastructure, technology will have a large role to play. He noted a large need for autonomous systems, particularly when it comes to robots that can build out and develop these designs. In order to create an efficient and successful build, he said there’s a need for robots who can understand their mission, as well as the conditions of the environment, and know a few different solutions if something comes up unexpectedly, just like a human.
Enter the robots
It also means creating robots that can easily share information with humans if necessary. A fellow Falls Church startup, Foundation for the Future, is also working on a similar mission of space infrastructure.
“We’re looking at a very grand mission that we’re all very much dedicated to accomplishing,” Leszczynski said.
Likely, Leszczynski said, this will mean using the current resources available, like extracting water from the moon. USS is also looking to build a low-energy, efficient data center as part of its mission, a model that Leszczynski said could even be used for data centers back home on Earth.
One guiding principle, he said, is “working with what the moon has to offer.”
“A lot of the construction we’ll be doing will utilize the resources on the moon so we’re not going to have to take a lot there. We’re going to be good stewards of what we bring and what we use,” Leszczynski said.