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Space launch for KTH startup porkchop

A rocket launch and the porkchop team
Today, porkchop will test their propulsion system for nanosatellites in space for the first time. Pictured: founders of porkchop Victor Gonzalez and Matija Milenovic. Photo by SpaceX (CC BY-NC 2.0) and Patrik Lundmark.
Published Jan 13, 2022

Matija Milenovic and Victor Gonzales started the spacetech company porkchop as KTH students. Now, their nanosatellite propulsion system is in orbit after a ride into space on SpaceX Falcon 9.

- Our aim is to test the technology, says founder and KTH alumnus Matija Milenovic.

Nanosatellites are no larger than a shoebox and weigh only a few kilograms. They have plenty of applications, and can for example be used to provide internet access in remote areas, track natural disasters in real time, or improve crop usage.

- When you start making satellites smaller they become cheaper, but you often lose functionality, says Matija. Propulsion systems take up a lot of space, so many nanosatellites completely lack the ability to navigate. This means that they cannot avoid collisions and it shortens their life span. That is the problem we want to solve.

Rendering of porkchop's propulsion system integrated in a satellite
With porkchop's solution, the propulsion system is integrated in the satellite.

Porkchop is developing a solution where fuel, engine, control system and all electronics that handle the propulsion of the satellite are integrated. They compare it to building a car's engine into the chassis instead of it needing its own engine compartment. This is crucial to keeping weight and volume down.

Victor and Matija came up with their idea when they were nearing the end of their first year as master's students in Aerospace Engineering at KTH.

- The problem we have always been trying to solve is how we make it easier to use space. There are so many benefits, but today both technical and economial factors slow us down. If we can help remove some of the obstacles, we could open up space for new technology. Then others can create critical services, like monitoring climate change in real time.

In the Student Workshop  at KTH, they got access to tools, materials and a place where they could build and test their solution. At the same time, they received support from KTH Innovation to develop porkchop towards the market.

In October 2019, porkchop joined the KTH Innovation pre-incubator program , a 12-month program for promising startup projects from KTH. The teams in the program get office space at KTH Innovation’s premises at Teknikringen 1, access to makerspace and production studio, weekly workshops to develop their ideas, and perhaps most importantly, become part of a creative and supportive community.

Apply to the KTH Innovation pre-incubator program!

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- If we hadn’t joined the program, porkchop probably wouldn’t exist today. It was immensely helpful. Even if you do come to the conclusion that it is not for you, you will still have learned a lot from trying to start a business. You have nothing to lose. In our experience, the program and coaching are truly world class.

Porkchop's propulsion system has been integrated into a Laika satellite. On January 13, 2022 at 16.30 Swedish time, it will be launched from Cape Canaveral with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

- We will try to fire the propulsion system on one side to rotate the satellite. If we succeed with that, we will be really happy. In the future, we’re aiming to build on this technology to become an in-space logistics company for the satellites of tomorrow.

By: Lisa Bäckman

About porkchop

  • porkchop was founded in 2019 by KTH students Matija Milenovic and Victor Gonzales.
  • porkchop got support from KTH Innovation between June 2019 and December 2020. They participated in the KTH Innovation pre-incubator program, got funding, help and support to apply for a patent, help recruiting team members, and more. Read more about KTH Innovation's support here.
  • The name porkchop is a nod to a nickname that NASA's space engineers have for a diagram that is made of each spaceflight and that graphically shows the journey from launch to landing. The diagram looks like a pork chop. (From an article by Teknikföretagen)
  • porkchop’s first product is porkchop X, a fully integrated propulsion system for nanosatellites. In the future, their aim is to become an in-space logistics company, “the DHL of space”. They could for example make it easier to deploy constellations like SpaceX Starlink or Amazon’s project Kuiper, but also to inspect, upgrade or reposition satellites.
  • Find out more on www.porkchop.space
Page responsible:innovation@kth.se
Belongs to: About KTH
Last changed: Jan 13, 2022