He leaves the conference room of the 4and Space Resources Week almost plunged into darkness. Stops for a moment at the Redwire booth to exchange a joke with his two representatives. The face crossed by a graying beard, the one who left his Lego robots and the stand to his (still) financial director, Josh Izenberg, is a space adventurer already seen in Luxembourg almost 10 years ago.
In another life. He himself wrote his legend. Born in London in 1968, he is said to have caught the space virus by reading the famous essay by Anglican clergyman Thomas Maltus in 1798. From the “Essay on the Principle of Population”, according to which the planet will not be able to cope with the needs of more and more men, the entrepreneur would have concluded that it was better to hurry to conquer space to find solutions.
From Silicon Valley to the USSR
His journey has always taken him to all playgrounds and industries: President of the AspireSpace Rocketry Foundation, he sent his first machines, if not into space, at least into the sky; a software developer like Elon Musk in Silicon Valley, he imagines a kind of technology that brings together all the information necessary for a mission to give it all the context it needs; at the head of a team specializing in the use of bacteria, he learned everything about the mining industry. Insatiably curious, he accumulates knowledge in construction, transport, logistics and finance; in the 1990s, he worked in the moribund Soviet Union to build bridges between actors from the West and actors from the East; at Surrey Satellite Technology until 2004 finally, he learns all about space and begins to help Nations who dream of a destiny in space.
This is where his career started. At this moment. The jack-of-all-trades joins Lieutenant-Colonel Dale Tietz and Dr. Bill Stone, who understood in the late 1990s that there was water on the Moon and that the subject of fuel was going to become major. The two men did not talk about it to anyone until 2007, when Mr. Stone shared the stage with a certain Richard Branson to talk about space tourism. The Shackleton Energy Company starts with Keravala and an ambition: to create the first offshore platform, capable of bringing thousands of liters of water as fuel for future rockets… before 2020.
The adventure ends three years later, for him in any case, when a participatory fundraiser supposed to bring 1.2 million dollars… ends with promises of 6,000 dollars.
Intelligent robots that are constantly learning
Jim Keravala relaunches with another idea:
or how to endow robots with intelligence and autonomy to send them into space to prepare for the arrival of humans. Very quickly, his journey allows him to understand that these robots could already be very useful on Earth.
“Look!” This Tuesday, in Luxembourg, he designates a screen which broadcasts in a loop the images of the first robot in the world which is not guided by a man, but completely autonomous. In a South African mine, the Digger Bot digs into the rock, replacing itself when the rock is too hard. “It works for a quarter of the usual price,” he says passionately. No breakdown, no employee who has to keep an eye on it, no risk for mine employees, no holidays, rest or claims.
“It ticks all the boxes of the mining industry,” he explains. Mining, construction, infrastructure, airport, space: its robots are not only modular, equipped with artificial intelligence, but learn from each other in cohort. Seen from Earth, it’s more impressive than most sci-fi movies or the dogs of Boston Dynamics. Seen from the Moon, this would solve a basic problem: how to create infrastructure from the materials on the Moon, knowing that getting them there would cost a fortune.
“Since the inception of the company, we raised a first round last year and we are preparing a bigger fundraising this year,” explains Mr. Keravala. “But we grow from our turnover. Today, we are working on three axes for space, with the Luxembourg Space Agency for the exploration of the Moon, with Deep Space for a constellation and we have just signed a contract p
By the end of the year, the space start-up, one of the sponsors of the Luxembourg conference, will grow from 70 to 150 people. In Luxembourg, where she arrived in 2017 and where he had promised a robotics research center in 2019 – “the Covid delayed us” he apologizes – she should really launch her activities in the third quarter. Robotics-as-a-service. Offworld will continue to store mountains of data and feed its artificial intelligences. At the service of a future in the Moon. He has been dreaming about it for more than 30 years.
He will probably talk about it this Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.
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The legend Keravala and his pied-à-terre in Luxembourg
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