Matija Milenovic, Co-Founder & CEO of porkchop
Despite spending 2+ years developing an electric propulsion system, developing a patent-pending power processing circuit for powering our solid-fuel thrusters and flying our propulsion system on a SpaceX Falcon 9 mission in January 2022, porkchop is not a propulsion company.
As I described in our first blog post, we started porkchop with the intention of making space more accessible and usable by average people like us. Giving satellites the ability to manoeuvre in orbit is a great way to advance this goal, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Scenario 1: Propulsion companies generally sell a module that you attach to your own satellite, which contains one or more thrusters, propellant (fuel) and control systems such as electronics, pipes, valves and so on. This, in theory, allows users to simply send commands to their propulsion system and execute a particular manoeuvre. There are ~80 companies around the world that sell propulsion systems and they all follow the above approach, each with its own minor twist.
Putting a propulsion system inside your satellite is worth it if you want to allow your satellite to maintain its orbit (compensate for external disturbances it will encounter), to extend its lifetime (mainly overcoming drag from the atmosphere) or to de-orbit itself when its mission is over. For manoeuvres such as increasing your altitude by thousands of kilometres or changing your satellite’s orbital plane, putting propulsion systems inside your satellite stops making sense in most cases. You will require a lot of propellant and/or power in your satellite. That’s where scenario 2 comes in:
Scenario 2: Someone transports you to your desired orbit. Imagine if you didn’t need to worry about how you’re going to get your satellites in a particular orbit, they just magically got to where you need them to be. No need to hire a propulsion team, no need to buy a propulsion system, no need to waste mass, volume and power on operating a propulsion system.
porkchop is in this category. We are an in-space logistics company, developing porkchop M, which can perform the above service, and more. The below gif shows how we envision doing this, and a link to the full video can be found here.
We’d like to make this process as easy for satellite operators as playing a game. Operators ought to be able to input their satellite’s details, design their ideal constellation, and press “Build”. porkchop takes care of the rest. We can transport those satellites across vast distances in space, and get them to where you need them to be in a timely and cost-effective way.
As Hannah Montana has been saying for years, satellite operators can have the best of both worlds. While being transported to your desired orbit is a massive benefit and weight off operators’ shoulders (literally), one must still consider how they will maintain that constellation. This is where putting smaller propulsion systems inside the satellite comes in useful.
If you have questions about porkchop M, always feel free to contact me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m more than happy to discuss your needs with you and see if porkchop M is the right fit for what you’re trying to do. You have my guarantee that if porkchop M isn’t right for you, I’ll gladly suggest alternatives.