SCEINCE

Medieval space flight? The company ejects missiles

Why use unstable rocket fuels for small satellite launches when you can just eject them into space?

It may sound like a crazy proposition, but a California-based startup, SpinLaunch, is actually developing an alternative rocket launch technology that spins a vacuum-sealed centrifuge several times faster than the speed of sound before releasing the payload, launching it like a catapult. up into orbit.

According to a report from CNBC, SpinLaunch conducted its first test flight using its prototype electric launch system last month, October 22, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The company not only aims to provide a more sustainable launch system, but also aims to provide satellite launch services “at the lowest cost in the industry,” SpinLaunch CEO Jonathan Yani said in an interview with CNBC.

Rocket launches are bad for the environment, as one launch generates several hundred tons of CO2, uses thousands of gallons of water and also releases harmful nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere – although the space industry’s carbon footprint pales in comparison to that of passenger aircraft. With its launch system called the Suborbital Accelerator, SpinLaunch would provide a significantly more sustainable start-up process that relies on electricity and kinetic energy.

“Bold and crazy” space project

SpinLaunch was founded in 2014 and remains under the radar, as Yani says CNBC that “the bolder and crazier the project, the better you just work on it – instead of talking about it.” The company has raised $ 110 million to date and has built a third large-scale version of its launch system, which it uses for its recent successful test flight. Even on a third of the scale, it is worth noting that it still reaches a height of 165 feet (50 meters), which means that the final model will be approximately the same height as the Eiffel Tower.

For the system, SpinLaunch must develop and test incredibly precise release mechanisms, as well as projectiles that can reach speeds of thousands of miles per hour after being ejected into the air. The company says its test flight in October took place at approximately 20 percent of the full power of the system’s prototype. Although he did not release exact figures, the projectile, which is a satellite payload, is said to have reached a height of “tens of thousands of feet.”

SpinLaunch aims to rebuild its systems after launch and ultimately wants to add rocket engines that will only be used once the projectiles have reached suborbital space. The private space company says it will eventually be able to send about 440 pounds (200 kg) of payload into orbit for a fraction of the cost of other satellite launch services. Over the next eight months, SpinLaunch will conduct about 30 suborbital test flights from Spaceport America. Stay tuned for more updates on this crazy technology that could just change the small satellite launch industry forever.





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