Leon Alkalai


Mandala Space Ventures was founded in 2021 by Dr. Leon Alkalai, a 31-year veteran and Fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. At JPL Leon managed the Office of Strategic Planning and Strategic Partnerships, and was responsible for the strategic vision and strategic relationships for the world’s premier robotic space science exploration institution. In 2018, Leon led a team to develop the laboratories 2018 Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) which is also publicly available at: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/sip

Dr. Alkalai is the recipient of the NASA Individual Distinguished Achievement Medal for the formulation of the GRAIL mission to the (Earth’s) Moon and for leading the JPL team to win the 2007 NASA Discovery competition. GRAIL successfully launched in 2011 and completed its gravity recovery of the Moon. Dr. Alkalai was also responsible for leading and winning the InSight mission to Mars proposal which won the (next) 2012 NASA Discovery competition. InSight launched on May 5th, 2018, and landed on Mars on November 26th, 2018. On October 29th, 2019 Dr. Alkalai received his second individual public achievement medal from NASA for the successful commissioning of the InSight Lander on Mars. 

For the past 20 years, Dr. Alkalai has also been a successful entrepreneur. In 2014, together with Dr. Adrian Ponce (Caltech/JPL) they co-founded Verrix LLC, which exclusively licensed 11 patents from Caltech to launch a medical device company for sterilization monitoring of medical devices in hospitals. After an initial seed round (2014) followed by a Series-A round of financing (2016/2017), Verrix closed its Series-B round of financing (2018) and is currently valued at $50-55M. Verrix demonstrated the business incubation model further developed and used in Leon’s studio model . That is, NASA and JPL developed sterilization monitoring technologies for the rapid sterilization monitoring of NASA rovers before they are deployed to Mars. That is, we protect Mars (and other planetary bodies) from contamination by Earth. Dr. Adrian Ponce and Dr. Leon Alkalai co-founded Verrix, licensed 11 patents from Caltech to create Verrix and apply this technology to sterilization monitoring in hospitals.  

Dr. Alkalai, over his 31-year career at JPL in space engineering sciences, has accumulated a world-wide reach and network across all major international space agencies (CNES, DLR, ISRO, ESA, ASI, IAS, CSA, etc.) and  key leaders in industry, academia, venture capital, investment firms, government and more.