Credit: Portal Space Systems

Seattle,WA - April 30, 2024 - Portal Space Systems, a Seattle-based space startup, announces its emergence from stealth with over $3 million in funding from the Department of Defense (DOD) and Space Force to support the development and launch of its revolutionary Supernova satellite bus. Led by industry veteran Jeff Thornburg, architect of SpaceX’s Raptor engine, former head of Mechanical Engineering & Manufacturing at Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and former Chief of Engineering at Commonwealth Fusion, Portal Space Systems will empower the next generation of space operators to maintain space superiority.

Portal Space Systems was founded by industry leader Jeff Thornburg, alongside COO Ian Vorbach and VP of Engineering Prashaanth Ravindran, and is dedicated to solving the emerging need for rapid and long-range mobility in space. Their flagship product, the Supernova satellite bus, is engineered from the ground up for maneuverability and features a novel solar-thermal propulsion system. With a payload-agnostic design and 500 kg mass, Supernova boasts a remarkable 6 km/s delta-v, setting a new standard for in-space mobility with 50 times the range of existing products on the market. 

That means that the system can perform currently impossible mission needs, like moving from Low Earth Orbit to geostationary orbit in hours or even the moon in just days.

“The space industry hasn’t fundamentally improved satellite bus technology in decades. Our nation is developing 6th-generation fighter aircraft technology but still uses 1st-generation satellite buses. Portal's Supernova is designed around the customer need for unparalleled mobility and extended mission life," said Jeff Thornburg, CEO of Portal Space Systems and former architect of SpaceX's Raptor Engine. "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.”

Portal Space Systems has garnered significant support from the United States Space Force, positioning the company as a key partner in advancing national interests in space. "We are proud to develop solutions that enhance our nation's space capabilities by building in constant collaboration with our government partners," said Ian Vorbach, COO of Portal Space Systems. Portal Space Systems' vision for dynamic space operations, tactical responsiveness, and maneuverability without regret is set to redefine the future of space. They are targeting the first launch of its Supernova system in late 2025. 


Portal Space Systems is a Seattle-based space start-up founded in 2021. It is led by space technology leader Jeff Thornburg and supported by COO Ian Vorbach and Vice President of Engineering Prashaanth Ravindran. Portal Space Systems is a full-service space maneuverability solution that offers tactical responsiveness and dynamic space operations via its flagship product, the Supernova satellite bus. Supernova is payload-agnostic with 500 kg of payload capacity and is powered by a novel solar-thermal propulsion system providing industry-leading 6 km/s delta-v. Portal Space Systems is launching the first Supernova in late 2025. 

Source: Portal Space Systems

Kris Christiaens's Avatar

Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens. Kris Christiaens has been passionate and fascinated by spaceflight and space exploration all his life and has written hundreds of articles on space projects, the commercial space industry and space missions over the past 20 years for magazines, books and websites. In late 2021, he founded the website FutureSpaceFlight with the goal of promoting new space companies and commercial space projects and compiling news of these start-ups and companies on one website.