Nicholas Frankl Oly

Nicholas Frankl Oly – Olympic Bobsledder Turns Towards Space Technology

Competing against the world’s top athletes in three Olympic Winter Games, Nicholas Frankl Oly, Axiom Space investor/consultant, and advisory board member of Radian Aerospace has enjoyed the Principality of Monaco for over three Decades.

Nicholas Frankl Oly
Nicholas Frankl Oly

The British-Hungarian, Nicholas Alexander Frankl Oly is a Monaco-based serial entrepreneur, automotive journalist, and former Hungarian bobsledder. He is the founder of several businesses, including My Yacht Group, a luxury events company centered around charity-focused receptions on board Superyachts and Entertainment MarketPlace, a sponsorship and marketing company.

Nicholas is also cementing his name as a space technology investor. Among his portfolio, one can find the private space travel leader and space infrastructure developer Axiom Space and the revolutionary Radian Aerospace that builds reusable orbital aerospace vehicles.

Since how long do you live in Monaco?

I’ve been enjoying the joys of Monaco for over 30 years,” – Nicholas begins.

Why Monaco?

It’s the best place that I know of in the world to live and I consider myself very fortunate to call Monaco home. Formula One originally bought me here with my father (who celebrated his 55th consecutive Monaco Grand Prix in 2023) and I have continued to love the people and Principality through my love of hosting friends at the Grand Prix weekend aboard our trackside superyacht.

Nicholas competed in bobsleigh at three consecutive Olympics. He piloted HUN1 in the two-man in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and in the four-man in the 1998 Nagano, Japan and 2002 Salt Lake City, USA games, respectively.

It is an interesting fact that H.S.H. Prince Albert II, the Sovereign Prince of the Principality of Monaco is a five times Olympian as a bobsleigh pilot under his family name Grimaldi and an IOC member. The Sovereign Prince was the Monaco flag bearer in 1988, 1994, and 2002. 

His Highness competed in bobsleigh at five consecutive Winter Olympics for Monaco, taking part in both the two-man and four-man events. In the two-man bobsleigh, His Highness finished 25th at the 1988 games in Calgary (Canada), 43rd at the 1992 games in Albertville (France), and 31st at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City (U.S.A.). 

In the four-man bobsleigh H.S.H. Prince Albert II finished 27th in 1992 in Albertville (France), 26th at the 1994 games in Lillehammer (Norway), and 28th at both the 1998 games in Nagano (Japan) and the 2002 games in Salt Lake City (U.S.A.).

Prince Albert of Monocco and Nicholas Frankl Oly
13 Feb 2002: Prince Albert of Monocco and Nicholas Frankl Oly of Team Hungary meet for the last time before the Bobsled competition at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics at Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah. Photo via Nicholas Frankl Oly, Credit: John Gichigi/Getty Images

You were competing as a bobsleigh driver for ten years against the best and most colorful teams including Monaco and your rival HSH Prince Albert II. Do you have any nice memories to recall?

His Serene Highness is one of the kindest and most loyal friends I’ve ever been privileged to have in my life and a great fellow competitor who was immensely helpful to our small amateur team throughout our Olympics career and twenty years since our last competition together I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him and his team once again for the generous help they gave to the Hungarian Olympic Team.

After our final Olympics in Salt Lake City 2002 (my third and his fifth) His Serene Highness awarded me a bottle of fine champagne at the IOC meeting here in Monaco in front of the IOC President and executive board and around 1,000 VIP guests. It was a beautiful public gesture as a true friend and fellow sportsman and a total surprise which left me speechless.,” – remembers Nicholas.

Lately, Nicholas turned his attention towards the space industry, more precisely towards Axiom Space, whose team has been involved with every International Space Station mission since the program’s inception.

Axiom Space station
Axiom Space station

Did you always want to work in the field of space? Or how did this journey arise?

I have always been very interested in flying and now as a passionate Cirrus private pilot and committee member of the new Hydravion Club de Monaco I have an appreciation and fascination with humanities space accomplishments, the early days of the Mercury seven – who were all test pilots- the Gemini and Apollo missions and the subsequent development of the Space Shuttle an International Space Station.

How do you see Monaco’s future in the space sector? 

Monaco always hits well above its weight and the opportunity is right here on our doorstep. We have incredible entrepreneurs, technology companies and venture capital investing in space projects, some of which, like Venturi will take Monaco to the surface of the Moon.

Do you think HNWIs of Monaco are interested in investing into the space sector? 

Yes, I do as some have already invested in numerous space related projects.

Nicholas Frankl Oly and Zsolt Szemerszky at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference
Nicholas Frankl Oly and Zsolt Szemerszky at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference

When did you invest into Axiom Space and why?

I was introduced at Monaco’s 60th anniversary NASA space celebration hosted by Monaco’s wonderful US Ambassador in April 2019. Subsequently the Axiom Space leadership team attended the My Yacht Monaco Grand Prix weekend to promote the company and I (along with a number of associates) made an investment in the same year at a $100m company valuation. This was a bet on the unique experience of the executives whom were all seasoned NASA senior executives and astronauts. In August 2023 Axiom announced raising a $350m C-round at a $2.4bn valuation.

Subsequently I advised the company in (U)HNW sales and marketing hosting a series of curated astronaut dinners in Monaco and around the world with our My Yacht Group events in Los Angeles, San Francsico, Austin, Miami, London and Saint Barths. We collaborated with spacewalk world record holder Commander Michael Lopez Allegria who took the first all private mission to the ISS in 2022 and will launch for a record sixth time to the ISS piloting AX3 on January 9th 2024.

Nicholas Frankl Oly
Michael López-Alegría, Nicholas Frankl Oly and Michael T. Suffredini

Axiom Space utilizes its singular human spaceflight engineering, training, operations, and program management expertise to help governments build human spaceflight programs and fly their astronauts on missions to space.

Their team combines NASA experience with commercial agility to offer lower-cost and flexible solutions. They have worked closely with space agencies around the world for over two decades, managed the world’s largest astronaut training program, and have been involved in every International Space Station mission since the program’s inception. 

How do you see the next five years with Axiom? 

They are leading humanities next great endeavors in low Earth orbit and currently building the replacement of the thirty year old international space station – the Axiom station – whose first module will launch by 2026 with full autonomy and a new station completed by 2030. In addition, they are also developing the next generation of NASA space suits for the upcoming lunar missions and landings as well as conducting private space missions for scientific and health research.

Nicholas Frankl Oly at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference
Nicholas Frankl Oly at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference

Many of those who travel to space recount undergoing a fundamental cognitive shift. 

Viewing our home planet from the Cosmos within which it rests, protected by a thin and wispy atmosphere, affects a transcendent experience that has been termed ‘the Overview Effect.’ This was one of the key messages of Former NASA Astronaut, Colonel Ron Garan’s opening speech of the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference.

Astronauts return from space changed, with a renewed perspective on humanity that remains with them the rest of their lives. The trip awakens something that feels primordial, eternal, and essential. Axiom Space is on a mission to reveal it to as many humans as possible.

So today, twenty years after astronauts first began to live and work aboard the International Space Station, Axiom offers you the ability to traverse the sublime reach of space and fulfill personal goals of a philosophical, philanthropic, scientific, or commercial nature — and help open a new chapter in human history.

Axiom Ax3 Mission Patch
Axiom Ax3 Mission Patch

Missions with Axiom include seventeen weeks of expert training at space agency facilities that only a privileged few get to see. Training prepares the participant as an astronaut, develops a deep camaraderie with fellow astronauts, and truly inaugurates one as a member of the exclusive space traveler family.

Driven by his curiosity in space technology, Nicholas also became a member of the advisory board of Radian Aerospace, which is building the world’s first truly reusable orbital aerospace vehicle: a winged vehicle that can take off and land using runway infrastructure.

Think Tank panel with Nicholas Frankl Oly, Per Wimmer and Doct Carlo Viberti at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference
Think Tank panel with Nicholas Frankl Oly, Per Wimmer and Doct Carlo Viberti at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference

Why did you invest into Radian Aerospace? 

Radian aerospace invited me to be an advisor, and it is a great honor to collaborate with some of the brightest and most experience brains in the aerospace world. They announced a record $28m seed round in January 2022 to aid development of a crew carrying orbital space plane that will transform spaceflight and travel on earth. Radian are well on their path to the next series A round.

Radian One is the world’s first crewed, single-stage-to-orbit vehicle with runway-like takeoff and landing. Our fully reusable, aircraft-like configuration requires far less infrastructure than vertical launch systems and can be reflown within 48 hours.

Radian One shuttle
Radian One © Radian Aerospace

What is the key benefit of the Radian shuttle? 

The holy Grail of space travel is a single stage reusable space plane, which up until now was not feasible for technical reasons but with our new manufacturing, component and propulsion abilities this is changing and allows us to create.

Radian’s system makes spaceflight affordable and routine, expanding access to space and unlocking the next generation of missions beneficial to humanity—such as scientific research, in-space manufacturing, and terrestrial observation.

Do you think that space tourism helps to accelerate the industry?

Certainly giving access to the private sector and to less well developed space nations and space agencies can only be a positive for space, industry, and humanity. This is all part of the democratization of space and the Low Earth Orbit economy.

Do you think UHNWI’s of Monaco are interested in space travel?

Yes, from my many meetings, I know that they are and some are in the pipeline to fly personally in the future, including even some Monaco based F1 drivers.

Zsolt Szemerszky, Nicholas Frankl Oly, Doct Carlo Viberti, Per Wimmer and Klaus Lovgreen at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference
Zsolt Szemerszky, Nicholas Frankl Oly, Doct Carlo Viberti, Per Wimmer and Klaus Lovgreen at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference

Do you think ELEVATE can help people to understand space technology and sustainability better? 

I think that the conference is a fantastic addition to the broad array of fascinating content, available throughout the year in Monaco, and serves a growing and exciting sector, which is especially important for youth, education and critical STEM subjects.

I loved the positive audience questions and spirit they were all very meaningful, intelligent and well presented.

What would you suggest to someone who is scared of the word or uninterested in “space”?

To fear space? To fear the beauty of the clear night sky, to gaze into space through a telescope and look at the moon – it’s incredible I recommend it! Exploration of space continues to benefit every part of humanity.” 

Nicholas Frankl Oly at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference
Nicholas Frankl Oly at the ELEVATE Space & Sustainability Conference

Read the full and illustrated interview in the Winter 2023 edition of the Living in Monaco, the Monaco Residents’ Magazine.

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