David Needell, PhD

Senior Associate


David Needell is a Senior Associate at Fine Structure Ventures investigating disruptive technology and identifying ambitious teams poised to enter the aerospace, computing, and climate markets.  Prior to joining the FSV team, David received his undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Physics from Bowdoin College and earned his PhD from Caltech developing next-generation solar photovoltaic light concentrators.  Together with Professor Harry Atwater, David led a startup integrating such devices into commercial window units.  Following his PhD, David conducted research at Columbia University as a postdoctoral scholar in advanced two-dimensional materials for applications in spin-wave and quantum computing.

  • Launch costs and availability are two of the biggest hurdles for small-satellite customers who are developing, testing and deploying New Space technologies. Gilmour Space is developing new launch vehicles powered by lower-cost hybrid propulsion technologies. Their Eris orbital rocket will offer more affordable, reliable and dedicated launches into Low Earth Orbits (LEO) from 2023.

    Learn more at gspacetech.com.

  • Hedron is building a network of data relay satellites that will help solve the connectivity problems faced by remote sensing constellations. Earth Observation (EO) satellites spend 70% of their orbits in connectivity blackout zones, forced to hold their critical data onboard until the next downlink opportunity. With leading multi-aperture optical technology, Hedron is building the infrastructure that makes high bandwidth, low latency connectivity to space a reality.

    Learn more at hedron.space.

  • Most launch vehicles have been designed to carry relatively heavy payloads to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) but do not present viable, low-cost options for transporting crew and/or lighter cargo. Radian Aerospace is developing the holy grail of spaceflight: the world’s first fully reusable horizontal takeoff and landing, single-stage to orbit spaceplane. Radian’s system delivers people and light cargo to LEO and terrestrial destinations with aircraft-like operations. It will make spaceflight affordable and routine, expanding access to commercial space and unlocking the next generation of missions in scientific research and in-space manufacturing.

    Learn more at radianaerospace.com.