2022 will be the year that Maana Electric proves its in-situ resource utilisation-based technology, transforming sand, and eventually moon dust, into solar panels. But, this may not be the only technology that puts it on the lunar map.
When Maana Electric landed in Luxembourg in 2018, it brought fresh air to a new space eco-system that had been largely dominated by satellites and space data. Maana expects to have its first photovoltaic panel factory, the TerraBox, up and running in the desert to prove to the market that it is commercially viable. The first focus will be to customers on Earth to build large-scale solar parks, although the goal is take it to the moon in the next decade. “Besides that, I think that we will see some big steps in some of the space products that we’re working on,” founder and CEO Joost van Oorschot said of his 2022 expectations.
In addition to these “mini-factories”, which take up roughly the space of six, 20 foot shipping containers, Maana’s 40-strong team is developing 3-4 concepts per month. “If they’re attractive enough, we usually propose them to the different space agencies,” says van Oorschot, who was excited about a universal lunar plug socket contract that Maana won in 2021. “It seems normal to be able to plug your laptop into the wall, but imagine how that will work on the moon,” the entrepreneur says, adding: “We want to make something that could potentially be more standardized and offer an interface for all [users].
“It seems normal to be able to plug your laptop into the wall, but imagine how that will work on the moon.”
Joost van Oorschot
2021 was a year of change for Maana, whose team doubled in size. It also moved from its 400 square metres headquarters in Bettembourg to a 2,500-square-metre facility in the SISA industrial zone in Foetz. The will space enable the scaling-up of the industrialisation process and provides dedicated laboratories with ISO7 and ISO8 standard clean rooms, and a dedicated assembly area, among others. “It’s really allowed us to separate a lot of activities and do them properly,” says van Oorschot. The entrepreneur, who originally hails from the Netherlands, joked at the 2021 Christmas party that this was the seventh location in three years for the firm. “So, we hope this will be somewhere we can stay for a couple of years,” he says.
In October 2021, Maana Electric announced the opening of a new office in Dubai, to assist in accessing the Middle Eastern market. There, it will build a team in sales and space technology.
Van Oorschot credits Maana’s rapid growth trajectory in part to having a large and experienced co-founding team, which includes the entrepreneur Fabrice Testa. “I talked quite a bit with other entrepreneurs and I think that played a significant role in us being able to grow because we had a core at management level. We had a trust and a dynamic that made sense,” the entrepreneur says. And he says that the company’s small size has been an advantage when it comes to R&D agility. “We are very much into rapid prototyping and continuous improvement,” he says.
This article was first published in the Silicon Luxembourg magazine. Read the full digital version of the magazine on our website, here. You can also choose to receive a hard copy at the office or at home. Subscribe now.