Plasmos CEO Ali Baghchehsara is using funds raised for propulsion startups Plasmos to start a VC firm. Credit: John Fiamor, Plasmos

SAN FRANCISCO – Plasmos, the Los Angeles-based startup developing rocket engines, is pivoting to become an artificial intelligence-driven venture capital firm.

Plasmos officially changed its business model in late May after struggling to attract investors and strategic partners due in part to the background of Plasmos CEO Ali Baghchehsara. Born in Iran, Baghchehsara moved to Germany as a teenager to earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering. There, he worked for the German Aerospace Center DLR and Airbus, before moving to the United States in 2021 to pursue his dream of developing hybrid electric-chemical rocket engine.

While Plasmos could address the business challenges startups commonly face, the political challenges seemed insurmountable, Baghchehsara said.

“I saw where Plasmos will end,” Baghchehsara told SpaceNews. “If we are successful, I’ll have to deal with the U.S. government. And if I sell to the U.S. government it may become impossible for me to visit my family in Iran. I had to choose a path: company success or family.”

AI for VC

Plasmos has raised about $275,000 in cash and $275,000 in in-kind contributions including 3D printing services. With remaining funds, Baghchehsara is establishing PlasmOS, an AI-driven venture capital firm.

Unlike venture capital partners who base investment decisions on their knowledge, experience or instinct, PlasmOS will use AI to select promising startups.

“We will use data to make almost instantaneous decisions, a quick yes or no on funding,” Baghchehsara said.

Ambitious Plan

As a space startup, Plasmos was developing a Space Truck, powered by the company’s dual-mode propulsion system. The Space Truck was designed to transport payloads in Earth orbit and to support in-space manufacturing, last-mile delivery, point-to-point transportation, on-orbit servicing and active debris removal.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...