Plasmos rendering of the chemical-electric rocket engine the startup is developing. Credit: Plasmos

SAN FRANCISCO – Propulsion startup Plasmos is testing its first rocket engine thanks to a $250,000 in-kind investment from Velo3D, a metal additive manufacturing startup known for its work with SpaceX.

Benny Buller, Velo3D founder and CEO, decided to make the investment after meeting Ali Baghchehsara, Plasmos founder and CEO.

“I was for two years an investor before I started Velo3D,” Buller told SpaceNews. “Startups are, first and foremost, the people. Ali is one of those remarkable founders that you believe will prevail no matter what.”

In addition, Buller sees Velo3D’s technology as a game-changer for Plasmos.

Since the Velo3D was founded in 2014 to additively manufacture complex geometric structures, the Campbell, California company’s technology has been used by SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Astra and Launcher to print rocket engines and other mission-critical parts for space. Velo3D’s metal 3D printing technology is also used to produce jet engines, gas turbines, semiconductor manufacturing equipment and automotive tooling.

“When we see people that are incredible founders with incredible technology that could leverage our capabilities in a meaningful way, we basically say, ‘We have to help this type of company,’” Buller said.

Plasmos, a Colorado corporation based in Los Angeles, was interested in working with Velo3D because the company’s laser powder bed fusion machine could print 95 percent of Plasmos’ chemical-electric engine, including its complicated cooling mechanism.

“That’s not possible with anything else I have seen on the market,” Baghchehsara said.

In the future, Velo3D additive manufacturing also could benefit Plasmos’ plan to develop a vehicle to transport spacecraft within low Earth orbit.

“We are considering using Velo3D technology for the manufacturing of a space tug and space tug components,” Baghchehsara said.

Like Baghchehsara, Buller immigrated to the United States.

Baghchehsara moved from Iran to Germany as a teenager. In Germany, he earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering and worked for the German Aerospace Center DLR and Airbus Defence and Space.

Buller, born in Russia, spent his childhood in Ukraine and Israel. Before moving to the United States, he worked for an Israeli Defense Force intelligence unit focused on advanced technology.

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...