The Future Is Now: James Yenbamroong of mu Space Corp On How Their Technological Innovations Will Shake Up Space Exploration
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Create an inclusive workplace culture. Hire candidates that are diverse in backgrounds and expertise. Diversity brings a pool of talents to your organization.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing James Yenbamroong.
James Yenbamroong, is a space entrepreneur and engineer. He is the founder, CEO and lead design architect of mu Space Corp. Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Yenbamroong’s interest in aviation started as a child, when he drew airplanes and robots on the wall of his bedroom, while also enjoying anime on space travel and robots. His father, who often brought him to airshows and military museums, also influenced his fascination with flights and outer space.
As a teenager, James moved to New Zealand to attend school and live with a host family. He recalls this time instilled a sense of independence and adventure in him. Later, he relocated to California, finished his secondary education and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering. His first job in the industry was at renowned aerospace and defence technology manufacturer Northrop Grumman, where he was a systems engineer for satellite projects. Later, he began working hands-on within their satellite program, while he also secured a Masters scholarship in Mechanical Engineering, which returned him to UCLA part time. He was later promoted as Project Lead for unmanned vehicle systems at Northrop, where he worked on highly classified projects for the organisation.
Yenbamroong left the US in 2014 and moved back to Bangkok, where he set his sights on starting his own company. In 2017 mu Space Corp was born. The company offers satellite services, satellite internet service, and aerospace manufacturing, and James is the CEO and lead design architect.
In addition to his primary business pursuit, Yenbamroong has plans of opening up space tourism to people in Asia-Pacific and sending the first 100 humans to the moon. He has stated that the goals of mu Space revolve around his vision of improving the quality of life of people on Earth. These include mitigating the impact of human overpopulation on the environment and reducing the risk of human extinction by setting up a lunar habitation.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Since when I was young, I’ve been fascinated with the moon and the constellations you see when you look in the sky at night. I remember as a child, I often drew aeroplanes and robots on the wall of my bedroom, while also enjoying anime on space travel and robots. My father often brought me to airshows and museums which I think has also influenced my fascination with flights and outer space. I always had a natural curiosity for space so I guess it’s natural I would end up an engineer.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I start with ideas on papers and a team of 6 people who share the same passion for transforming the world with space technology. We use each other’s expertise and teamwork to bring the company to what it is today.
Even though what we’re doing is difficult and challenging, I am fortunate to assemble a strong team of young generations who are ready to go on this journey with me and tackle the world’s pressing problems. That’s very exciting for me.
Now, I see more and more people in Thailand who were once not interested in space technology becoming more interested in it, which is a good sign. It’s safe to say that mu Space has sparked the interest in space technology in Thai people. Today, we have a fanbase that follows and encourages us. This is the force that drives us to move forward and do better things and develop more advanced technologies. We want to work and live up to what we always say, “We bring space closer to you.”
Can you tell us about the cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
Our company is an aerospace manufacturer and satellite service provider in Southeast Asia. We develop and manufacture satellites in-house in our own factories with an emphasis on power systems and electronics which are the heart and brain of the satellites. The technological breakthrough that we’re working on right now is called a Space Internet Data Center (IDC) where we do advanced research to further develop and operate a data center in space.
The Space Internet Data Center (Space IDC) is a small-satellite constellation system that will serve cloud services in space on-premises. Data processing and other data activities can be operated right in space where more and more satellites are placed. The microgravity and cold nature of space help lower the power consumption of the server computers, which constitute the majority of data centers. This means that the operation hours of a space data center will last a lot longer than a data center on Earth. There usually are interruptions occurring during data transmission on Earth, either caused by the system itself or natural disasters such as floods, fire, earthquakes, or electronic outages. This space data center will remove most of the risks and problems on Earth and send the data directly from space to users. It will be significantly faster, more stable, safer, and more convenient.
How do you think this might change the world?
This changes everything about data & information storage and cloud services nowadays as we only have data centers on Earth up until now. It is like a new era of data storing and cloud services. Now we’re experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic, we see companies transform to digital and virtual environments. They have to move to the cloud. That’s where our Space IDC is for.
Our job is to improve the lives of people through technology. We need to do that without destroying the planet around us. More importantly, is that we need to ensure that everyone has access to technology and the opportunity to benefit from that technology where needed.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
I know Black Mirror offers a different perspective on technology and portrays a dystopian picture of the technology world which I agree partly that these are serious concerns. However, I would like to point out that we could use technology to help create a better world to live in. For example, having a data center in space helps us prevent the exploitation of energy consumption on Earth. Technology makes our lives easier and more convenient. The area that we need to be careful of is how technology is employed and how it could potentially be abused or used in a non-creative direction.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
There was no single tipping point. It took decades of space technology innovation across an entire ecosystem to make satellites truly accessible from outer space. It’s important for me and it’s also our company mission that we leave the planet and environment a better place for the generations to come. This is the reason we need to explore space to bring back the resources to help our planet Earth and all of humanity because we would run out of resources on Earth and our population will continue to rise until a certain moment that it starts to decline. Putting a data center up in space is one step closer to that goal.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
To me, technology is an enabler to innovation, transformation, and success. We have a strong team of young talented engineers and specialists. Everyone is working hard to bring those ideas on paper into reality. To get this technology to scale to widespread adoption, we need support from different sectors both the government sector and private sector. It’s important that the government consider providing a regulatory framework that facilitates the development and deployment of new technologies. We still have a long road but I’m confident that we’re on the right track.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
We’re fortunate to have had great coverage from news media around the world from the beginning. They are interests from both international and local media outlets. We have been receiving great responses from our fans.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Honestly, “it takes a village” for me to be where I am right now. I have had the opportunity to meet with some of the most talented people in the aerospace industry. I have had great supporters over the years in my career. I have been very lucky to have an amazing team backing me up during these years. To name just one would be unfair.
Also, I would be nowhere if it weren’t for the support of all of my parents, my family and my friends. They’re always there for me. They have been rooting for me since the start.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We have a mu Space internship program, in which we welcome university students from different majors to come and work with us. We’ve had some amazing students from the program, some of whom became employees after their internships ended and some also have the potential to lead their teams.
My approach is to connect smart engineers and problem solvers to bigger real-world problems. Our team is tackling one of the biggest crises in the world’s history of resources running out. We are going to space hoping to find resources to save our mother planet.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Be yourself. Trust your instinct, do what your gut tells you. Nobody knows what you want or what you’re capable of better than yourself.
- Persist until you win. There’ve been so many people saying no to my face since I started my business. It takes a lot of courage to win over all the obstacles that come your way.
- Create an inclusive workplace culture. Hire candidates that are diverse in backgrounds and expertise. Diversity brings a pool of talents to your organization.
- It’s okay to fail. No one is immune to making mistakes. Embrace those failures as they show you the mistakes you make. Reflect on those decisions that lead up to those mistakes and learn from them.
- Stay hungry for new opportunities. Don’t be shy. Keep your eyes open and your mind fresh for any new opportunities. Connect with people and build a relationship, it might lead you to a great experience or new business cooperation.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Seize the day! Make the most out of your life, every day. Time is precious. It flies by so fast. Do the things that you will never regret not doing. The decisions we make will have an impact on our lives as well as the technology we develop will have an impact on society. Technology can transform human lives. We have to think of our future generations who will come after us and live in the society that we have created. It’s up to us to leave the world a place where our children can grow as physically and mentally healthy as we can.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I believe in teamwork. Doing what we do needs a great team with a commitment. So I always go by the quote “Lift as you climb.” I have trust in my team to own and manage the business their way. I will help them when needed. I let them lead their team & projects and own operations end-to-end. The only way to succeed as a company is to lift your team up, recognize talent and offer to promote them. This also goes with everything in life. Success doesn’t come from one person, you need to support others in order to succeed.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
The space industry is accelerating quickly worldwide and generating a massive amount of revenue. mu Space is the first mover in Southeast Asia’s space industry. We will attract and create countless opportunities for both the business and technology sectors. We are looking for investors who share the same vision to join our growing team. If you are one of those people who put importance on long-term investments in the high technology industry to help improve the future for all of humanity, mu Space is your choice.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
The Future Is Now: James Yenbamroong of mu Space Corp On How Their Technological Innovations Will… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.