A Bizarre Solar-powered Spaceship Called “Supernova” From A Seattle Firm Might Unveiled Next Year

A Bizarre Solar-powered Spaceship Called “Supernova” From A Seattle Firm Might Unveiled Next Year

Developers have revealed that a strange new spaceship will be able to perform objectives that are currently unattainable.

Seattle-based startup The creator of SpaceX’s Raptor engine, Jeff Thornburg, leads Portal Space Systems, which claims that its ground-breaking Supernova satellite bus would be able to transition between orbits and have a 50-fold greater range than current spacecraft.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and Space Force have provided the company with over $3 million in funding, the company revealed this week.

According to Portal, “if current industry players have their way, the next phase of the space economy will involve servicing and life extension, which will require extreme spacecraft maneuverability.”

“Portal Space Systems believes it can help realize this vision by making it easier and much faster to move spacecraft around in orbit.”

According to Portal, the Supernova satellite bus has a unique solar-thermal propulsion technology and was designed from the ground up to be maneuverable.

Large mirrors or concentrators are used in these systems to direct sunlight onto a heat exchanger. Concentrated solar radiation warms a working fluid or propellant that is kept in a tank, such hydrogen.

By rapidly expanding and being expelled through a nozzle, the heated propellant produces thrust in the opposite direction.

Supernova is a 500 kg payload-neutral vehicle that can swiftly move inside or between orbits and support a variety of payload types.

In addition to having the capacity to switch between orbits several times over the course of its lifetime, the business claims it will be able to move from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to Geostationary Orbit (GEO) in a matter of hours.

Portal plans to launch the Supernova system for the first time in late 2025.

The CEO of Portal Space Systems and the former designer of SpaceX’s Raptor Engine, Jeff Thornburg, states: “It has been decades since the space industry made a significant advancement in satellite bus technology. While our country continues to deploy first-generation satellite buses, it is also developing sixth-generation fighter aircraft technology.

“Portal’s Supernova is designed around the customer need for unparalleled mobility and extended mission life.

“Our novel solar-thermal propulsion system and bus design, combined with our compatibility to support any customer payload, sets us apart.

“We provide an over 50x improvement in current spacecraft mobility. For our customers, that means the ability to have spacecraft on orbit that are able to respond in real-time to events in any orbital regime.”