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Sociologists in Space with Kelli Kedis-Ogborn

Join Tim in his conversation with Kelli where they talk about the indirect paths taken to Space and how each of us can be involved.

Kelli Kedis Ogborn drives organizational and product growth through leadership roles in disruptive technology commercialization of space and defense innovations. With extensive experience in R&D and cutting-edge technology applications for the U.S. government and private sector, her qualitative and quantitative methodologies guide organizations that are transitioning from development ecosystems to market capitalization. Kedis Ogborn is an often-published author on the market applications of innovation and has worked extensively as an authoritative voice within the emerging space economy –discussing economic drivers and technology trends driving the industry forward and shaping its investment potential and growth. She is a main facilitator for Space Foundation Space Commerce programs—positioning companies and countries for growth into the $1T+ future space economy, a frequent panel reviewer and technology assessor for commercialization merit of government R&D proposals, mentor and coach for entrepreneurs, and speaker for STEM initiatives.

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Episode Transcript:

[00:00:00] Tim Chrisman: Hi, this is Tim. Christmann here for another edition of podcasts for the future. Today I'm joined by Kelli Kedis-Ogborn. Kelli is a C suite level executive that drives organizational and product growth through leadership roles in disruptive technology focusing specifically on space and defense and.

[00:00:26] She's got extensive experience in R and D and cutting edge technology applications across the U S government and in the private sector, her qualitative and quantitative methodologies guide organizations that are transitioning from development ecosystems through market capitalization. She is an often published author on market applications of innovation and has worked extensively as an authoritative voice within the emerging space.

[00:00:54] She is the lead for the space foundation space, commerce Institute, executing [00:01:00] programs, positioning companies, and whole countries for growth into the $1 trillion plus future space economy. She's a frequent panel, reviewer and technology assessor for commercialization, merit of various government R and D proposals.

[00:01:16] She's a mentor and coach for entrepreneurs and speaker for stamina. And we're excited to have her on the program today. Thanks for being here, Kelli.

[00:01:00] Kelli Kedis: Thank you, Tim. I'm happy to be here and I look forward to it.

[00:01:36] Tim Chrisman: Yeah. So I always start this asking about what is it that got you into space? A lot of times when I bring guests in, it's a fairly straightforward. Process. They were a rocket scientist.

[00:01:50] They you know, whatever it was, but your, your bio starts as a intern at USA ID, the space agency. If for those of you [00:02:00] who aren't keeping track.

[00:02:02] Kelli Kedis: Yes. It's actually an interesting story that is not linear whatsoever, but I actually find that more and more people that find themselves in the space industry that sort of is their trajectory.

[00:02:15] So I am a sociologist by academic training. I'm actually trained in the psychology of war and why people go to war. And it's been really interesting over the course of my career because I've had these various pivots. I've ended up applying my skillset and expertise to further the goals and objectives of whatever industry I go into and space really stuck.

[00:02:38] And I'll, I'll tell you that story, but what's interesting about it is that there's a lot of commonalities. Where I started from with, you know, designing a packages to what I do now with helping companies move from R and D to like innovation and adjacent markets and space. Because what I focus on a lot is the human element.

[00:02:56] So how are people going to perceive these innovations? [00:03:00] How is R and D going to impact their lives? What are a lot of the tech trends and market trends, driving industries, and then how can companies position themselves in it? And so it's funny because. Like you said, I started at USA ID. used to design aid packages.

[00:03:13] I came to Washington DC and I was planning on being here a year. I've been here 14, but initially I was going to be here a year and then I was going to go overseas and do my masters. In conflict resolution and I started on the U S Senate and I worked for Senator Barbara boxer. And while I was there, I knew that I was interested in like defense at large, but still me in the defense world was sort of skewing toward this international development conflict resolution.

[00:03:40] But After about a year on the hill, I was like, okay, I need to get some, you know, experience in the R and D or just defense world. And I ended up at DARPA on a fluke, which was probably the best place that I could go because in a pure DC story, I sent my resume to a friend who was working at secret service at the time.

[00:03:59] And I was like, [00:04:00] Shop this out to anybody in defense. It's like a naive 23 year old. Right. Let's figure it out. And I got a call back from a research services at DARPA. And at the time I knew what the agency was. Really didn't know anything about it. Got the job and ended up starting out doing research for program managers, which is probably the ultimate best place to start because it did not come from a technical background, but it was literally drinking from a fire hose in terms of technical requests and being there, there was a changeover in leadership and the new director came in and wanted a more robust congressional strategy.

[00:04:35] I was one of the only people in the building that had worked on the hill. So got pulled up to the director's office to do the congressional strategy and I've loved every second of it. That agency is fascinating. And what I realized while I was working there was that a lot of the same skills in designing aid packages and understanding that human adoption really translates to how you get people to understand and accept radical innovation.

[00:04:58] So it was literally just taking like the [00:05:00] skill set, applying it to a different area. Fell in love with the industry left the agency in 15 and started my consulting company, HS CONUS, as you mentioned. And it was there that I really started to get involved in space pretty heavily through this, through work with the space foundation.

[00:05:16] So at the time in about 2018, they were starting to get more into the entrepreneurial world. Helping companies position for what the future space economy was going to become. So I joined them and ran all of their space commerce programs. And so it was a really fun, creative experience because it was looking at.

[00:05:33] What are the technology and emerging trends driving the industry. And then how can you take traditional and non-traditional companies and position their skills and services for what space wants to become and our collective wish for space. And then I've been doing that for about six years. As you mentioned, I run a a commercial launch company that was actually a.

[00:05:52] Client of mine. Then I did a commercialization study for, and then at the end they asked me to come on and join. So found my way in a very [00:06:00] zigzag way, but it's the perfect kind of marriage of skillsets and opportunity in this burgeoning industry, because it's really a place where everything applies and everyone's building the future as we speak.

[00:06:10] Tim Chrisman: Yeah. And I, I think, you know, starting there at the outset where you were talking about how this was a nonlinear path, you didn't get a degree in physics. And we're, we're starting to see more and more of that. We have enough physicist in space. It's the sociologist, it's the artist. It's the logisticians that we don't have.

[00:06:35] And so you're right. Designing an aid package and convincing stakeholders that this is useful. Looks a lot like convincing people that what an engineer says can fly is something they should buy.

[00:06:50] Kelli Kedis: Yes. No, absolutely. Well, and it's also a really fun time to be in space because it's. It's like the wild west and all the [00:07:00] best ways is kind of how I categorize it.

[00:07:02] Because like I said, we're, we're really building the future. As we come into space industry by process of how it needs to exist. It is very siloed still in the ways of, you know, your launched services and smallsats and other various providers. But as technology progresses and as we start to get, you know, commercial and economic activity in low earth orbit and beyond, it's going to take these myriad of like space adjacent industries that people don't realize that they're in space yet to, to make it at our collective wish.

[00:07:30] And what's interesting is like a lot of people, even in like advanced textiles or fashion design, Are going to become extremely relevant because when space tourism becomes a thing, you're going to have everyday citizens that don't pass the rigorous stress and health tests of astronauts that are going to be going to space.

[00:07:46] So how do you keep them healthy? How do you keep them safe? There's a lot of creative thought process going around it, and I love that because people are now starting to self-select into the industry as opposed to self-selecting out because they're not a rocket scientist. Yeah, [00:08:00]

[00:08:00] Tim Chrisman: no. And, and I love being able to basically tell that story.

[00:08:04] When I go around the country and talk with like community colleges or places like Scranton, Pennsylvania, where they're like, we're not Spacey. And like, well, do you know how to make something literally anything at this point? Cause we're probably gonna need it. I was joking. I have a friend who bartends on the side and telling her like, Jeff Bezos will not mix his own drinks when he goes to a hotel in space.

[00:08:29] So there's a chance. I

[00:08:33] Kelli Kedis: agree. It's it's fun too, because I find myself in those conversations as well. And on the cursory, I do a lot of. Mentoring for especially young girls that want to get them and whatnot. And I essentially tell them, you know, that it's, there is a place for everyone in every skillset.

[00:08:47] You don't have to be an engineer. You don't have to be a rocket scientist because even just on like the comms, HR fleet management, you know, event side, just anything, when you see these large scale events, there's literally a village of. [00:09:00] Making it possible, but those people aren't necessarily heralded in the timeline or like the news headlines and the other things.

[00:09:07] But they are just as critical to mission success. And the more people start to recognize that every day, I think we'll start. See the industry expand in the way that we know it

[00:09:16] Tim Chrisman: can. Yeah. Yeah. And that, that's the sort of thing we need more of is breaking that barrier down because we do self-select I self selected out for a very long time.

[00:09:28] And more or less came in on a dare because my wife was like, why aren't you qualified? And I'm like, well, huh, I guess I'm not qualified for anything else. So I might as well try this too. And like, that's a very common mindset that I've heard. So that's really cool about the mentoring. Like what, what, tell me more about that.

[00:09:49] How does that.

[00:09:50] Kelli Kedis: Yeah. So I I appreciated the opportunity to do this cause it's similar to you. So what's funny is when I found myself at DARPA, I remember I had an ex boyfriend and [00:10:00] he's an ex for a reason. Right. But when I got the call for the interview, he literally was like, what is DARPA. Which was super insulting, right.

[00:10:08] Especially coming from a sociologists like non-technical background. I brought a very different skillset that was necessary because it was, it was the business side, the execution side, the understanding the human piece of how innovation is going to go. But I feel like that sort of thought is pervasive and.

[00:10:26] Throughout the industry, at least, maybe not so much with the companies because they know all the various industries and people that like work within it. But externally, because people just see the big scale systems and the engineers doing it. And so it can be extremely intimidating. And so people sometimes don't understand like how an individual person.

[00:10:47] Into it. And so I want to make sure that I level set to show that, like there isn't a one size fits all there isn't a cookie cutter because throughout my entire career, I've always found myself in roles where it's like I had [00:11:00] imposter syndrome in a lot of way, which I feel like a lot of people do, but I would get into these positions and I'm like, oh, I'm definitely not qualified to be here.

[00:11:07] And then I realized like, no, I definitely am. And I know what I'm talking about. It's just. From the outset, it's very scary and intimidating. And especially the space in stem, a lot of what they push are these hard technical fields, but it's not just that. And especially with young girls even the way that like engineering is taught in school, it's very much not necessarily geared toward female way of thinking about things.

[00:11:33] And I, and I say that lightly. I don't want to genderize stuff, but generally they've done studies that like men are better going through engineering courses by being able to kind of separate the impact with the information. So you can put equations on the board and it'll be like, okay, well, this you're going to learn this today.

[00:11:52] Great. Okay. The next week you're going to learn this great without understanding the broader context where generally women want to understand the broader context. [00:12:00] Why am I doing this? How am I going to use it? And you don't end up actually building something until your senior year. Right? And so a lot of people end up dropping out.

[00:12:09] A lot of girls end up dropping out. And so it's not because women aren't equipped for these engineering things. It's a lot of how it's packaged and, and I want to get them to understand that. There is a place for everyone, every skillset, even if you're not engineering inclined. And you're really good at comms, you're good at people management or you're good at business or program management.

[00:12:26] You definitely need that because the technically minded. We need to have parameters.

[00:12:30] Tim Chrisman: No that's been a perennial issue with space is it's engineers thinking that all they need to do is talk to other engineers to sell what they're doing. And the rest of us are like, I don't know what you're talking about.

[00:12:41] Yeah. So are these college age that you're doing the mentoring

[00:12:44] Kelli Kedis: with? I've done college age and I've also done high school age. So generally around the age where they're trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up, which I think all of us still figure out on a daily basis. But it's more just kind of like [00:13:00] illuminating various paths and industries that can be relevant to.

[00:13:03] Tim Chrisman: Yeah, I I have a friend of mine tells a story about when so he grew up son of a crab fishermen. And now as a PhD invented a new finance mechanism and runs multiple companies has been an exec on wall street, but like that wasn't a path. He was going to be a crap. That was it. And so the fact that he like picked up and went to New York city, he was like a pariah because nobody thought they thought he was just goofing off and not being serious because he wasn't doing the family job.

[00:13:39] And he talks about how he wants to be the last one that struggles to get into Greece. And that's. That if we don't understand how to get somewhere, we're not going to go. It's not because we're dumb. It's just because we don't know it's possible.

[00:13:54] Kelli Kedis: Yeah. Well, and I think that's what draws a lot of people to the industry in particular is I mean, [00:14:00] space in and of itself is just cool.

[00:14:02] Okay. You, you, you won't meet a person on the street that doesn't think that the industry is cool. Right? And so by, by virtue of that, it attracts a lot of folks, but people and humans have always had this like insatiable quest for exploration and, and, you know, figuring out what's beyond the cosmos and beyond the stars.

[00:14:21] And what's nice about the space industry is that people are attracted to it because it's. Yeah, because it's worthwhile because you're learning something new every day and it's not complacent or static at all. And so it really is evolving and it's kind of like your choose your own adventure book.

[00:14:37] Cause you can, you can figure out how the industry progresses and then how to pivot in a business line or.

[00:14:44] Tim Chrisman: Yeah, no. And so like how, what is that challenge? That's like not keeping you up at night, but not what you don't want to sleep because you want to work on it. What, what's that challenge you're working on?

[00:14:56] Kelli Kedis: Yeah, that's a, that's a good one. I think, I think the main one [00:15:00] is, so I spend a lot of time like I said, sort of as this space ecosystem strategist. Right. And figuring out how people can take advantage of it and really trying to. Really understand the economic drivers and the technology driving the industry.

[00:15:16] But really for me, it's being able to balance the space, enthusiasm with business pragmatism, which I think is critical to the industry. And it's also a really fun challenge because space really is an ecosystem and it's not a sector. And so there are. Things that we want to achieve. And a lot of the money that is getting poured into, you know, space tourism and the wish of Asher are asteroid mining and moon mining and Collins on Mars and all of these things.

[00:15:46] But there are still a lot of critical technical challenges and business challenges that we need to address to use. Do that. And so that's the challenge that I really like diving into is being able to figure out what that strategy looks like in [00:16:00] terms of what are the technologies coming on line in five to seven years, and what are those going to enable from investment opportunities and space adjacent market opportunities so that people can start to come into the ecosystem.

[00:16:13] And yes. Become more of a hole. But that, that's one of the biggest challenges. And then on top of that, it's a lot of that narrative, you know, the space is a place for everyone and getting people to really self-selected and understand how they can start to develop their strategy for when their company or industry is going to be relevant in three to five years.

[00:16:30] Tim Chrisman: Yeah. Yeah. No, that that's so cool. And I mean, like I am a relative newcomer. To business. I've been spending my life doing geopolitical forecasting. It's like fascinating to hear, you know, exactly the same, like, Hey, this is where we're going to be in seven years. Here's where the technology is going.

[00:16:49] And I'm like, and that means someone's invading your country. And you're like, and this is how your business can win. And I'm like, wow, your way seems way more productive. [00:17:00]

[00:17:00] Kelli Kedis: Well, It's it can be messy, right? Because it's getting people to understand that. Cause cause part of the thing, and I'd go back to this, you know, space being cool is that there is enthusiasm driving the industry and it has to, but that pragmatism piece is really, what's going to keep it turning, especially when you start to get these investments in space technologies that need, need to produce some sort of ROI.

[00:17:24] Right. And so how do you then anchor the tangible. With the wish. And it's a, it's a, it's a fun roadmap to create.

[00:17:35] Tim Chrisman: And the timelines you're talking about probably uncomfortable for a lot of clients, they

[00:17:40] Kelli Kedis: can be. I think it's because there's also, especially with emerging companies, like young companies, I think that they sometimes underestimate how long.

[00:17:53] Technically something will take to develop. And especially in the space industry, because it's not developing an app, [00:18:00] right? Like there, there are plenty of industries that have had the luxury of like iterations and time and you can push out something that's good enough. And then you can iterate upon it.

[00:18:10] Anything that is a space system has to be complex and it has to work, especially if you're talking about launch or something. Designed to exist in low-earth orbit or G or geosynchronous orbit for like 30 years. And so that in and of itself is you have to blow things up. You have to have flexible timelines, you have to have deep pockets.

[00:18:30] You have to have a big appetite for risk, which a lot of people in the industry do. But it's, I think that sometimes people get like, Overzealous. And they think that it's going to work on the first try and then they get frustrated when it does it. And you have to move their timeline out, maybe like one to two years.

[00:18:47] Tim Chrisman: Yeah, no. And I think the, even the name of your company here be dragons, Latin sounds awkward. And so I'm not going to try to pronounce it. Okay. There we go. But. [00:19:00] Like, like showing them where those dragons are and making sure, you know, they're not running into what they don't want to, I think is a really cool.

[00:19:13] Yeah,

[00:19:14] Kelli Kedis: thank you. No, and, and that's, that was completely the impetus behind the name primarily is that there are a lot of known unknowns that you can at least plan for. And what I mean plan for as at least be somewhat self-aware that you might have to have. Plan ABC once you arrive, but you can plot them.

[00:19:32] Right. And if you don't encounter them then great, you can bypass them. But just understanding all of the, I mean, even beyond technical challenges and this comes from my sociology background, but like a lot of success in business is human driven. I mean, especially when you're trying to push the boundaries of what's possible and really out of the bounds of what people even believe to be reality, it takes this.

[00:19:56] Narrative and trust kind of strategy to get [00:20:00] people, to be champions of your work so that when your work comes online, there's a place for it to go. And a lot of people don't realize that, especially the young technical companies, they figured they'll just show up with something and they're like, here it is, take it.

[00:20:11] And they haven't even done any of the leg work to make sure. There's investment. There's a place for it to go. There's a beta tester, right? There's stakeholders. All of that. Yeah.

[00:20:21] Tim Chrisman: Oh no. I mean, I'm, I am probably guilty of this more than anyone else listening this. Like, I came up with this all by myself. Look at me, go.

[00:20:29] Yeah, there's a cartoon of a gallbladder holding up a kidney stone and being like, I make this that's usually me. Like I made it, somebody will want it right. Yeah. No, but like, how did, how did that start, you know, doing, doing that as a service seems like, I don't know.

[00:20:47] Kelli Kedis: Yeah. So it it grew from what I was working at DARPA, so I was their congressional liaison.

[00:20:52] And so a lot of what I did was, you know, I would talk to our stakeholders on the hill and, and really educate them on the impact [00:21:00] of innovation and R and D coming out of the agency. How it applied to national security, right. And with them to understand the impact of it. A lot of those conversations that I was having on the hill with either members or staff, they would ask, you know, what's, what's life after R and D look like for these companies, because ultimately you want to create, especially for that agency, a really impactful innovation for the war fighter.

[00:21:21] It is taxpayer dollars and, and most technologies that we're realizing, you know, Progress our dual use. And so there are commercial uses and there's also government uses or are the intended use cases. I like to say. And I started to really mold that question over in my head and I realized that there are a lot of answers to that problem, but it's also then how you design the solutions for the people trying to solve them.

[00:21:46] And so what I mean by that is when you think about these really brilliant technologists and these really brilliant engineers They often can get analysis paralysis, like moving beyond the parameters of what the technology was [00:22:00] developed for, because success to them. I got the parameter specs. I developed this, that successful, but when you move it out into the commercial market, it gets messy because there are two proofs of concept it's if the market works and if, or sorry, if the technology works and if the market wants it, and if the market wants it, is that broader piece.

[00:22:18] And so I have worked really closely hand in hand with, you know, really science-minded folks for seven or eight years and realized that a lot of those. Intangible tangibles could be packaged better to assist them. And what I also really wanted to focus on was moving really more towards. Education and learning, but to actual practical execution, because one of the things that I think is a great disservice and I'm, I'm glad that there are a lot of incubators and accelerators and other things that are out there, but you sort of have to move beyond convening really brilliant people to actually teaching them and showing them how to do things.

[00:22:55] So it's one thing to have access to mentors. But if you have access to mentors, you [00:23:00] need to know what kind of questions to ask them. And unless you know what questions to ask them, it's kind of a waste because otherwise you're sort of just going to them and being like, tell me what, you know, So I realized that there was an, there was a place in a need for this kind of strategy and where I really wanted to focus in the supply chain of it all really is creating that go no-go on whether or not commercialization is even smart to do before the execution phase.

[00:23:27] So where we really fit in an HST OCONUS is like before they go onto an incubator and accelerator, cause those are wonderful places to help. Scale and get access and visibility, but I want to dig into the technology and say, okay, like what does commercialization actually mean? Right? Is, is it something that is going to take you?

[00:23:46] Three years and you have to hire 15 people, and you're not going to realize an ROI for five more years, or is it something where you can realize a quick return and then build and scale? So what I do is I look at the internal and external [00:24:00] strategies and build those tangible roadmaps and actually the execution plan so that they can see.

[00:24:06] Yes, this is what I want to do. No, this I'm going to wait for two to three years and then they can go and execute and scale.

[00:24:12] Tim Chrisman: Yeah, no, that's cool. What kind of, you know, what's the spectrum of companies that you've helped?

[00:24:20] Kelli Kedis: So large and small it's interesting. Cause it's less. And I will see across the horizon of different types of technologies.

[00:24:27] Fortunately working where I did at the agency I got, like I said, it was drinking from a fire hose. Right. But I got a really great kind of bird's eye view and a pretty, oh, I don't want to say like deep technical knowledge, but enough working technical knowledge that I can dig into. To understand impact strategy tech goals.

[00:24:47] I pull in experts if I need to go a bit deeper. But so it's less, it's technologically agnostic and size agnostic. It's more where they are. So I've worked with small companies that have had success coming out of government grants or [00:25:00] government funds. That have maybe like a TRL four or five that had gotten past the hypothesis.

[00:25:06] They have a prototype they want to scale. I've also worked with larger companies that want to create a new business line or an a J go into an adjacent market altogether. So it's really that new scoping phase. They could, they can be any size and really any tech.

[00:25:22] Tim Chrisman: No. That's cool. I think of a half dozen companies I need to send you, right?

[00:25:26] Yeah, no, this sounds like you would, you would save so many people heartburn and yeah.

[00:25:35] Kelli Kedis: Well, and, and that's the point because I, I always stress that. Like, even if, if we get to the end of this and we realize that commercialization, isn't the best viable option for you right now. To your point that saves them a lot of time and energy trying to, you know, bust down a wall.

[00:25:53] That's not gonna budge. And also because a lot of the archetypes that we've worked with I want to say like 80, [00:26:00] 80% have come from government funding. So sometimes the better model is for them to continue with the government as a customer. Right. And continue. Progress with their tech. But there are cases where there are commercial avenues.

[00:26:11] It's just that it's a totally different strategy. And then the ones that are purely you know, entrepreneurial or startup, it's interesting because for them, I think part of the challenge is this. I mentioned it before, but analysis paralysis, like there are so many options because they didn't necessarily come from one reason why they developed it, right.

[00:26:30] Or one kind of grant source. And so that also helps them focus because a lot of times, if you go after. Five customers at a time. It's not, not necessarily the best

[00:26:40] Tim Chrisman: past. Yeah. But it seems like such a good idea. One's good fives. Best

[00:26:48] Kelli Kedis: five's best if you know how to tear them. So we focus on this one. You're one, this one, you're two to three, right?

[00:26:55] You prove out an MVP for one. Then you have the iteration for the next. You can have multiple [00:27:00] customer lines. It's just understanding what that focus is going to be.

[00:27:03] Tim Chrisman: Yeah. No, that's that's really cool. So you got into advanced rocket Corp that's right? Yeah. Out of one of these things, so like, how did that play out?

[00:27:14] Obviously you did a good job. They like

[00:27:15] Kelli Kedis: yes. So I met the team there probably mid 20, 20. When they were in this phase of sort of understanding growth, potential, and also tech development potential. So did a commercialization study for them. And then at the outset of these things, normally we have clients come back and they'll say, you know, we.

[00:27:37] We need you to come on and maybe help us with like slight execution and X. And they came on and asked me to come on as president and chief operating officer, which of course you can't really say no to right then. Cause it's space startup. I mean, commercial launch. It's a really exciting. So have been doing that, I guess it's been about a year now because I joined last November and it's been, it's been really exciting, you know, not without its [00:28:00] growth challenges like everything else.

[00:28:01] And what's been really good for me and eye opening is that now I see the practical application and execution of the strategies I put in place. So it's actually made me a better strategist too, because I live and breathe the actual development of it. But it's exciting. We're in a place right now where.

[00:28:21] What we're trying to achieve technically is pretty different in the industry. It's just tackling the, going back to this human piece, that the narrative and the optics that launches a forgone conclusion, which it's been on. Just because there's been success of, you know, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and others.

[00:28:39] People think that it's pretty, the market is pretty much, you know, saturated well, and while there are a lot of launch companies, there is a need for. Different models of rockets, right. And in classes of payloads and everything else. And we're at, we're at two-stage hybrid air breathing, initial stage traditional rocketry second.

[00:28:58] So the goal for us is really [00:29:00] to make space responsive and as ubiquitous as getting on an airplane, which is a challenge that everyone wants to crack. So that's

[00:29:09] Tim Chrisman: where we. Yeah, no, I think you're exactly right. Like we don't have one kind of delivery truck. It ranges from semi to a pickup truck and you know, three or four dozen models in there.

[00:29:22] Yes.

[00:29:23] Kelli Kedis: Well, and, and space is massive. Right. And all this police missions are massive. So when you think about some of these rockets, like some are carrying people, some are carrying payloads. What size of payloads? What orbits are they going to? What are they planning on doing once they get there? I mean, There's all of these variations which makes it an exciting time, but also difficult in the sense of like, where do you then focus your investment and place your bets going back to what I said before this, like enthusiasm and pragmatism, like, what's actually gonna realize.

[00:29:53] Tim Chrisman: Yeah, no. And I, a lot of people talk about how like, oh, you know, now it's just Boeing and Airbus that make [00:30:00] airplanes. So there's not a market for a lot. Well, you know, a hundred years ago there was a lot more than two. And they were all successful for decades.

[00:30:10] Kelli Kedis: Yes. Well, and I also think that that is sort of necessary to continue to drive creative process because the whole point of space.

[00:30:19] Is the industry needs to be collaborative and competitive at the same time. And when you have this consolidation of, of services or or stakeholders, it's not that you, not that they will come, come become complacent, but you run the risk of becoming complacent. I mean,

[00:30:35] Tim Chrisman: because

[00:30:41] Kelli Kedis: when you even think about the fact that like we use the United States, I haven't been back to the moon since 1972. And we now have to get rides to the ISS through Russia, which was the main reason we went to the moon. So you can't get complacent, right. You need to keep [00:31:00] pushing on.

[00:31:01] Tim Chrisman: And it's not that the moon suddenly got harder to get.

[00:31:05] Like you can put stuff on the moon fairly cheap. But you're right. We just like, eh, whatever. It's

[00:31:11] Kelli Kedis: also national national priorities. What's interesting about that is, and what I find fascinating about the whole moon launch or sorry, the space race, and then to begin with is that after, I mean, Kennedy, you know, you read about it.

[00:31:27] Technological advancement was just as important as national security space posturing, which I just expanded it. And right, because at the time we were very much in the United States trying to prove our dominance and win at all costs, which we did. And not very much proved the point that the United.

[00:31:46] You know, from a national security perspective is not someone to mess with funds. We achieved that, you know, we ran the scientific missions, but then our priorities changed as a nation. And so now, fortunately, we're back to a place with the Artemis mission where [00:32:00] scientific advancement and, you know, human space or inner, inner planetary exploration.

[00:32:04] And all of those things have become back on the radar that we refocused again. You know, we had multiple wars in between as you know, cause what you used to, to, and others that sort of took our budget and our focus. Yeah. Sorry about

[00:32:16] Tim Chrisman: that. I didn't spend it well, did a lot of painting rocks.

[00:32:24] Kelli Kedis: I'm sure. I would love to hear those stories.

[00:32:27] Tim Chrisman: They're less exciting than they seem. Oh, well, yeah. But so you were talking about. Advanced rocket, by the way, how is that URL not already taken when it started?

[00:32:41] Kelli Kedis: So it's funny. Cause the, the initial URL was used to be air, and then we also have advanced rockets. Yeah. Cause I think corporation was something that was already taken, but the company's been around since 2016, so yeah, so I just joined in 2020, but it had been around [00:33:00] at least in terms of its patents and starting to get some traction for

[00:33:03] Tim Chrisman: awhile.

[00:33:03] Yeah. Yeah, no. And it seems like the momentum is built to a point where it's taking, taking off where, you know, we get to see the results.

[00:33:16] Kelli Kedis: Yes, yes. Very much. So the, the biggest hurdle to really overcome is that you, you, as I mentioned before, You need to start building and breaking. Right? And so we're at the point where we're in an active fundraising stage because technically our system and the design has been computationally and mathematically validated, but we actually.

[00:33:37] Blowing stuff up and doing our subscale system testing, which we have done in some degrees, but that's really gonna move the needle forward and progression because then we can pivot design and pivot focus where necessary, but that's, what's getting me. I'm not sleeping at night. I can tell you that.

[00:33:53] Tim Chrisman: Yeah.

[00:33:54] Yeah. And it is nice when you're a company like SpaceX and can do tons of rapid [00:34:00] unexpected, this assemblies. I think that's what Elan.

[00:34:02] Kelli Kedis: Necessarily. And I, and I appreciate that he is open and honest about that because again, you know, we talked about this earlier, but like by virtue of these systems, they are hard.

[00:34:13] And when people see explosions, they think it's a failure, but it's not, it's learning something and then iterating. So it doesn't happen the next time. And you have to take those chances. It's just. These big explosions are like, oh, well they failed. No, it did not.

[00:34:29] Tim Chrisman: No. I remember I did a couple interviews over the summer where I was asked like, oh, space X is on the ropes.

[00:34:34] And I'm like, no, nobody was on needs. This is a perfect time to blow them up.

[00:34:40] Kelli Kedis: Exactly. Right. Right. Because you want to make sure that everything then goes right when there are people

[00:34:44] Tim Chrisman: on. Yeah. So if you can blow up 30 of these and now, you know, 30 ways they'll blow up and fix it. So yeah, no, I think having, having a chance to do that, and I'm constantly told, you know, you're going through a funding round that is the least fun [00:35:00] part of any.

[00:35:02] Kelli Kedis: Yeah. Yeah. It's I will say the conversations, I always learn so much from 'cause again, you know, being a sociologist, I'm always curious what people are going to ask and what they're like home in on, and primarily, you know, a lot of there are a lot of truths to How people prepare companies for these types of presentations, like in terms of making sure you have a rock solid team and understand your challenges and your risks.

[00:35:28] But it has been interesting, especially in this launch market. Cause the thing that comes up again and again is why are you building around. There is no need for it. And so that's what I'm like. Oh, well, they're not really poking holes in the tech or the business yet. Right? It's more this understanding the industry and that's where a lot of the other stuff that I do comes in in terms of understanding.

[00:35:49] Y you need these different mission sets in classes of rockets, what low-earth orbit, commerce activities are gonna look like and who we can now bring into the industry because we offer cheap launch that would have [00:36:00] normally been priced out. It's all in that stuff. That narrative takes longer for people to really.

[00:36:06] Yeah, interpret and soak in. It's not a sound soundbite. I mean, you really intimately need to understand it. And then the other thing that I find interesting just about the investment world is that because, you know, spaces and ecosystem and not a sector, Success in one means success in another. So there are these large portfolios that some investors have that will benefit once reusable and reactive and responsive space becomes a thing because their customers are going to be able to be.

[00:36:37] In space quicker and more often, right? It's that kind of cognitive connection

[00:36:43] Tim Chrisman: to that I'm sure it's exceptionally frustrating. The time,

[00:36:47] Kelli Kedis: well, you get, you get really used to hearing. No. Right. And it's like that Winston Churchill quote that I love. That's like, I think success is moving from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

[00:36:58] And so you just have to [00:37:00] kind of learn from what. Adjusted for the next, but you meet a lot of really interesting smart people. And so that's also fun too, because the conversations can take you in a lot of different directions.

[00:37:09] Tim Chrisman: Okay. Yeah. I'm trying to think through here. Yeah. What, what have we missed?

[00:37:17] What you know, what is it that you are excited about that we haven't jumped into?

[00:37:29] Kelli Kedis: It's an open-ended question. I like it. I would say we talked about it a bit before we can go into it more is a really these space adjacent markets. Right? I think that. One of the things that we're going to see more of is a lot, are a lot of these industries coming online and realizing that they have a place in space.

[00:37:51] And then because of that, the landscape is going to shift so rapidly. That we are then going to find ourselves, trying [00:38:00] to keep pace with what the industry can bring to bear. And I think that's really exciting because it we're in a place now where there's a lot of creative thought process. And there are probably things that you and I are going to see in a year from now.

[00:38:13] I didn't even realize that was relevant. So I think that piece is really exciting to keep your finger on, because I feel like every day I read a news story or I talk to someone, I mean, even the fact around a lot of mental health and a lot of like the, the bio behavioral type stuff that, cause there was an interesting study.

[00:38:34] Simulation crude missions for Mars. And one of the biggest challenges they had in these simulations was mute me. Think about it. It's interesting, right? Because you try to solve all these technical challenges. You go along and say, okay, like, does the rocket work? Is it keeping their astronauts safe where the suit's safe, but then you don't account for the fact that then you have.

[00:38:55] People can find any area for a very long amount of [00:39:00] time. And a lot of times with these rockets now, a lot of the things are automated. It's not that the humans don't necessarily still need to interact and use their cognitive ability, but you do have some downtime, but how do you keep people saying, how do you keep each other?

[00:39:13] I mean, those are deeply human challenges that are just as relevant or even just creature comforts. You know, when we ask people to. Take this great risk and sacrifice and do these initial missions. I mean, once they get there, if they're in living in domes or they're living in case. You still want them to not go crazy and feel like they can be connected to their family.

[00:39:35] And so all of that stuff I think is really fascinating in that industry, I think is you're going to start to see more and more of, because we are going to have more and more people realizing that space is an option.

[00:39:46] Tim Chrisman: Right. No, and I mean, it's been what, 300 years, 400 years, since we had to worry about mutiny because people didn't know where they were going and didn't see the end.

[00:39:55] Kelli Kedis: We're in a brand new frontier race altogether. And so. [00:40:00] And obviously you get people that are mentally resilient. People can be mentally resilient, but I mean, even the best of us have our breaking point and you don't know what that is.

[00:40:09] Tim Chrisman: No. And I mean, I, you know, spent decade in the military and you leave even somebody who is highly trained, highly skilled, highly disciplined with idle hands long enough.

[00:40:22] They're gonna get it. Yeah. So the more automated, the more automated these systems are probably the worse because these are smart people. They need something to do. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:40:34] Kelli Kedis: Well, and even just I don't know if this. Relevant to it, but it's where my mind sort of goes, but even think about people that have seasonal effective disorder from, from darkness in Scandinavian countries and other spaces, dark.

[00:40:48] So turns out it's dark. And so when you have these periods of time where you don't have. Your body responding to natural sunlight, right. And just all of these [00:41:00] like natural bio responses that we take for granted, even things like we take for granted because of gravity. I mean, accommodating for that and accounting for that on these long duration flights, I think it's going to be really fascinating.

[00:41:11] And one of the, one of the areas that I'm sort of monitoring very closely. Right?

[00:41:16] Tim Chrisman: Right. No. And I mean, I think for, you know, even just the fact that a lot of these things aren't accounted for like creature comforts, Result of too many people self-selecting out in fashion designers, the artist, the behavioral therapist being like, no, I don't do rockets.

[00:41:35] I don't know anything about it. So I'll see later. And in 10 years being like, well, I guess we'll figure it out. We've got this, this little meat sack of a robot here. They get input and output and we'll, we're done right.

[00:41:50] Kelli Kedis: They're going to be increasingly relevant. Cause even when you look at these a lot of the, you know, designs for moon colonies and others, they do account for hospitals and for other things.

[00:41:59] But [00:42:00] like what happens when you get injured in space? How does someone have a child in space? I mean, there are all these things that aren't necessarily. Relevant in the next 10 years, but in the next 50 years, for sure. And that's within our lifetime. And so starting to get people to self-select in and start to build that future is really, really

[00:42:18] Tim Chrisman: important.

[00:42:19] Yeah. 'cause ultimately, we're people, we fancy monkeys with pants, so we need everything we have here and we want to take it. Well,

[00:42:29] Kelli Kedis: and you also have to account for, you know, humans are deeply irrational creatures, as much as we like to think that we are super logical and we are logical in certain ways.

[00:42:39] But we're also irrational in a lot of ways. And so that is a really big factor.

[00:42:43] Tim Chrisman: Yeah. And the more people then we have, the better we can get insight and build to control for that, because then we're not narrowly confined. We have the advantage of other perspectives and. Sociologists and space [00:43:00] turns out are really useful.

[00:43:02] I hope so. And it would certainly appear so based on your track record of success. So yeah, but it's it's been great having you here today, Kelli, and yeah. Look forward to seeing where you go next.

[00:43:16] Kelli Kedis: Thank you to them. I look forward to it and I look forward to continuing the discussion.

[00:43:19] Tim Chrisman: Thanks.

[00:43:20] Kelli Kedis: Thanks.

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