Today, we have with us Mr. Plafountzis Eleftherios, who is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of space startup from Greece: Prometheus Space Technologies and a lover of space. He has designed and developed a great project named “Charybdis” which is a satellite system with a state-of-the-art design that will perform Active Debris Removal from Lower Earth Orbit. He is a space pioneer with vast working experience. A lot of people say that, in a parallel way he is at a beginner's level the way Elon Musk was when he started with his companies.
A little background about the visionary founder:
He has over eighteen years of hard-working experience in the aerospace sector in Hellenic Aerospace Industry for the Lockheed Martin F-16 air inlet and aft section assembling project, with more than 300+ parts assembled.
He also has over a 5 years’ experience in the heavy maintenance of C-130 H/B aircraft with specialty on the fueling system. He has studies and certificates from the open course ware of the top world universities such MIT, Harvard, Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne, Australian National University and Queensland Institute of Technology in the fields of Aerospace Engineering, Astronomy and Astrophysics and Robotics. He has also published books and researches.
He has made a deep research about the working needs and gaps in the Space sector. His researches developed and led to the birth of Prometheus Space Technologies.
Let's get straight to the Interview:
1. How did you get into entrepreneurship? Please tell us more about your journey as an entrepreneur?
Although I’m MIT’s certified entrepreneur, to be honest, I don’t consider myself as a one. I’m a space enthusiast, and I’m fascinated by science and those aspects I wanted to develop. The corporate involvement was after those acts as a necessity. In order to achieve our targets for scientific and technology success, we needed to perform successful entrepreneurship!
2. Did you read any books that inspired or motivated you in your journey?
The time prior to the Prometheus Space Technologies launch and the development of the Charybdis project, I have made serious studies in the scientific area for the project development so to reach our target market area and to manage to be far ahead from the competition. I also read so many books and countless articles to assist me on the company development. I intend to write myself a book referring to what I faced until I complete the design of the Charybdis project and the Prometheus Space Technologies creation and launch. In this book, I will include any part of the articles that inspired me to reach our goals. I will include also, any dialogue, any person and any situation faced until our final stage. I will describe and I will thank publicly every person assist us even in the lowest act, but I will refer with all the details every struggle and confrontation faced with the intention for the future developer don’t struggle as me and our team does.
3. Please tell us about your company
Space is very important to the existence of Planet Earth and its creatures such as humans, If not for any other reason but for the fact that the earth exists in the space, just as the fish is to water. It is therefore important that we maintain and take good care of the space as much as we do the planet earth itself. This is what Prometheus Space Technologies does: it maintains and takes care of the space.
Prometheus Space Technologies is a business into the space industry. It develops products that will help maintain the space and therefore ensuring the earth is safe in it.
At Prometheus Space Technologies there is a well-established organizational structure so as to achieve its goals and objectives of becoming the leading name globally, the space technology industry. Also, there is a comprehensive and strategic marketing plan to first gain competitive position in the space technology industry and then to continue and increase its client base to reach the whole of USA, UK and even reaching the global world. At Prometheus Space Technologies quality will be prioritized as it wants to make sure that every of its products are efficient and effective, bringing out results that will surpass consumers expectations.
4. What kind is the threat for our planet and why you decide to deal with it?
In outer space, any launch creates space debris. Since the first man-made object was launched into space in 1957, more than 5600 launches have taken place. In addition, incidents and collisions create additional space debris. As a result, human activities have caused significant negative effects on outer space, as during the past six decades near-Earth orbits have been filled with functional and non-functional objects, the overwhelming majority of which are debris.
Currently, only 6% of the catalogued orbital population are functional objects. The number of non-functional objects that are trackable and contained in the Space Surveillance Network catalogue show that there are more than 21,000 larger than 10 cm. For smaller sizes, the estimates are based on statistical models, such as the NASA Standard Breakup Model and in-situ measurements. The estimates include 150 million objects larger than 1 mm and 600,000 objects up to 1 cm. Moreover, 900,000 pieces of space debris larger than 1 cm have resulted from more than 200 on-orbit defragmentations. As a consequence of the vast orbital velocity in LEO (8 km/s = 28,800 km/h), impacts with the smallest objects of 1 mm might cause degradation and damage to functional spacecraft. So far, shielding options have been developed, but they are only effective for fragments not larger than 1 cm. Impacts with larger objects have the potential to destroy functional satellites.
According to ESA’s data, the destruction of individual satellites due a space debris impact, or permanent loss of specific orbits because of unchecked debris growth, would have a devastating effect on Europe’s economic activities in space worth directly over 8 billion euros, and serious affect the global economy.
Today, global satellite operators spending 14 million euros annually on debris impact avoidance maneuvers, but more than 99% of these are false alerts. However, in recent years, commercialization of space is seeing huge growth, and this means massive deployment of small satellites and large constellations by new commercial players. This will generate several hundreds of thousands collision warnings each week for operators of mega-constellations.
The study’s results demonstrate that the only effective way to deal with space debris issue before it’s too late, reaching the point of loss of functional satellites, spacecrafts or even human life, and serious affected the global economy, is the direct and immediate Active Debris Removal process.
We have made a serious studies, and we have gather almost any scientific research that have published about the space debris case, and we aim at the heart of the problem, without any hesitation we provide the most effective way to solve this problem before is too late.
5. How you will manage to deal with this threat?
As I have mentioned several times so far, we have designed, and we are in the development phase of our current major project which is the “Charybdis” Satellite System and its mission is Active Debris Removal from Low Earth Orbit. It is a satellite structure with state of the art design and function far from the competition. In the payload area, it will deploy a system of our design type of shredders that would reduce debris parts mass to near-zero product particles by crushing them in a thin negligible dusting particle. Additionally, we are designed an even more pioneering configuration with the option of a debris tank area that would collect debris space parts for recycling into Earth’s interested company users. We aim to create a network of space companies, organizations and individuals who will join forces of technology and scientific potentials for the space clean up, recycling and maintenance for protecting our planet. That would be our moto: “We maintain the space; we protect our planet”.
6. What are the difficulties you have faced so far?
I have realized during the process, that to challenge the powerful existing status quo is a very difficult task to perform. It is even harder when you start your project from a blank page. When the only reference is the existing working experience, the studies and the own researches results are a difficult choice to decide to enter the most competitive scientific arena. We did it anyway! This happens because I have complete trust in our team’s potentials, and I have faith in what is capable to perform. We are confident that we will lead in this field and our project is the most advanced so far.
We want to make all the acts needed in order to make a brain drain “resistance”, and to succeed in Greece, but the facts lead us to the US and E.U. markets. In the USA, our associate in Texas has already lined up a well-connected 4-star general and also has connections to state representatives who have a strong voice in Washington D.C. while in Greece we just reach contact with the government.
7. What are your plans for the future?
We have completed our studies for the pre-design phase of our project, and we have reached the third Technology Readiness Level, and we headed to our prototype testing, and we headed to the fifth level of Innovation Readiness Level. That means that we are ready to register our brand in Europe and U.S. and seek funding to complete our progress and get our place in the space market.
Therefore, is time for us to work and expand and while our popularity grows exponentially, so do our innovative practices in order to fuel and continue to pioneer the industry. We soon will launch our first crowdfunding campaign for reach with our own capabilities the full corporate function, and later on, we will seek for a pioneer investor for leading with our team in the head of the market. I’m fully aware that it may look risky for someone to invest in our team, but you must know that who dares, wins, and sometimes the greatest business unicorns were discovered only by special potential individuals.
8. What’s your greatest fear as an entrepreneur?
The greatest fear that has during the establishing of Prometheus Space Technologies is the possibility of the lack of funding. I’m totally confident about the project we have created, and for the quality of our team, and I’m certain that we have what it takes to make a global success. My fear comes after that we need to develop and launch our project while we are the most effective innovators in our field. We have the most advanced product and we are far ahead of the competition. So, this is the time for us to grow and If we launch soon enough, we will be the leaders and headliners in the market. That’s why we need to overcome the lack of funding and work and function even better than our competitors who had establish their products, and they have the financial size of great world companies. We are relatively new to the space market industry, although they have various management team members that are quite experienced in the business.
Gaining a customer base will be relatively herculean as it has to compete with already existing and established companies, but we are born for that and we are ready to reach our target!
9. What keeps you going when things get tough?
So far, I must say that we have face only tough situations in every aspect of our work. I’m not bother because I have the working level experience that allowed me to work effectively under pressure. In fact, this aspect of capability will lead us to the top of our globally success. After all, as the moto says: when the going gets tough, the tough get going and we are on our way!
10. How can people connect with you?
In the company matters, I have gained vast experience through the production line in the aerospace Industry. I know what is important in the connection of people so to make our target achievable. I know what to do and I know what I must avoid. I’m totally certain that effective leadership is about to inspire people to work with you for achieving a great target. Prometheus Space Technologies based on teamwork model, with the “We” word front we inspire and generate enthusiasm, in order to develop our people and giving the credit worth every single person. We intend to coach rather a demand, rely on our partnership in goodwill and not in the authority.
People out of the company can connect with all the social media platforms for contact in person with me or with our team.