Discussing the Next Phase of Space with Hélène Huby

Space Exploration
8/5/2021

​​​​​​​The commercial age of space has arrived with the second wave of space exploration – moving the industry from B2G to B2B2C. In this episode of HARMAN’s interview series “The Next Wave,” Young Sohn sits down with Hélène Huby, VP Orion – ESM at Airbus, to discuss the current state of space exploration, her investments in the industry, her work with the Microbiome Foundation and Karman Project and if we might be able to live on Mars in 2050.

After studying at ENS (École Normale Supériore) and ENA (École Normale d’Administration), Hélène began her career at a European SME undergoing turnaround (in Brussels), where she focused on the Internet. Passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship, she joined FaberNovel (Paris, Hamburg) to manage several digital innovation projects. Subsequently, she was hired by Airbus Defence & Space (Toulouse, Paris, Bremen, Munich, Madrid), where she became Director of Innovation after a few months. In that position, she developed some 50 new businesses and played a critical role in the creation of Airbus Ventures and the OneWeb deal. She also supervised a rocket project, for which she had operational responsibilities.

Today, Hélène is a co-founder of and partner in Global Space Ventures, an aerospace-focused venture capital fund that operates in the United States and in Europe. Hélène is also a private investor in several tech start-ups and is Senior Advisor for Red River West, an investment fund that invests in European start-ups to help them become established and grow in the United States. Hélène is a Young Leader of the French-American Foundation and a member of the Club Choiseul.

In addition, for more than a decade, Hélène has been involved in medical research. When a person close to her was diagnosed with a rare illness, Hélène co-founded the Fonds CSP (PSC Fund) with Alfred Véricel, which is dedicated to funding research into this disease.

Hélène has four children, whom she is raising in an environment of respect and admiration for cultural diversity and humanity.

Helene Huby

Helene Huby

Founder & CEO at The Exploration Company

Helene is Founder & CEO at The Exploration Company, an early-stage space tech startup whose mission is to democratize space exploration for space & non-space industries. The startup is working on developing, producing and operating affordable, modular and reusable spacecraft that go to Earth orbit, to the Moon and come back to Earth. These vehicles are made of common standardized space tech bricks which – for some of them – will also be available in a dedicated space store, hence enabling others to re-use them to build new space applications & products.

Previously, Helene served as VP Orion-ESM at Airbus Defence & Space, responsible for the on-time, on-cost, on-quality delivery of the European Service Module of Orion, i.e. the European contribution to the Orion vehicle which brings back humans to the Moon. She held beforehand strategic and operational roles: Vice President Space Strategy at Airbus Group, Program Manager at ArianeGroup and Head of Innovation at Airbus Defence & Space where she grew a portfolio of profitable new businesses ranging from space data-based services, light laser terminals, electrical-powered stratospheric drones and automated air-to-air refueling. She catalyzed the creation and led the preliminary design of the Airbus Innovation Center in Silicon Valley and of Airbus Ventures.

Helene began her career at the French Ministry for Research and Higher Education as Deputy Head of the Department for European Affairs. Following her passion for entrepreneurship, she joined faberNovel to contribute to the growth of the European digital ecosystem through leading digital innovative projects.

She graduated from Ecole Normale Supérieure rue d’Ulm with a MS in Economics & Applied Mathematics, from Sciences-Po Paris and from Ecole Nationale d’Administration.

Helene is privately engaged in the (space tech) startup ecosystem. She has founded and chairs Urania Ventures, an investment company which funds and supports deep-tech founders who invent for a better world; 50% of Urania Ventures portfolio are space tech startups. With the French Space Agency and the University of the German Army, she has contributed to create and is a Board Member of SpaceFounders, the first French-German space tech startup accelerator. She serves as Senior Advisor of venture funds (Red River West, Prime Movers Labs, Digital Growth) and of startups (SurfAir, Orbite, Hemeria). She is Board Member of the deep tech startups Robeaute, ClearSpace, Interstellar Labs and Loomly.

On the non-profit side, she has founded and chairs the Karman Project, a non-profit German-headquartered foundation whose mission is to foster trust, independent dialogue and cooperation between the ones who shape the future of space. She has co-founded and is a Board Member of the Microbiome Foundation. She is a Board Member of the Académie Musicale de Villecroze and an Anchor Investor of Yunus Social Business.

Helene is Young Leader of the French American Foundation and Young Leader of the France China Foundation.

She has four children and lives in Germany. She enjoys playing tennis and cello, running marathons and sailing.