SpinLaunch, a space startup, has an innovative idea. Instead of vertically launching rockets from the ground, why not spin them inside a huge centrifuge? Then, we can use the energy to launch them high up into the air, where they can fire on small rocket engines to reach orbit.
The small company, after years of media attention and many renders of sleek rockets has finally shown off an early prototype for its suborbital acceleration -- which essentially amounts to Spaceport America's massive centrifuge. It was used to launch a rocket high into space.
Jonathan Yaney, SpinLaunch CEO, stated that it was a radical new way to accelerate projectiles or launch vehicles to hypersonic speeds by using a ground-based technology. This is about building a company, and a space launch platform that will allow us to launch commercially at the lowest possible cost.
The prototype for the "suborbital accelerator", despite being only one-third scaled, stands at 165 feet. A rotating arm spins the projectile at insane speeds inside a vacuum chamber. It can travel thousands of miles an hour, or many times the speed of sound.
The arm releases the 10-foot projectile in a fraction of a second and it is then catapulted into high air.
The company's website features a video of the accelerator in action. It also shows the reaction of the team to the company's first test flight.
Yaney stated that aerodynamic models can be validated for the appearance of orbital launch vehicles. This allows them to test new technology when it comes to release mechanisms.
The accelerator could launch a payload at a height of "tens and thousands of feet" even when it was reduced to 20 percent of its full power, as the CEO stated to the broadcaster.
SpinLaunch's advantage is that it doesn't take up space in a rocket to burn fuel, but instead promises its vehicles will focus their mass on payloads and not propellants.
It is not clear where SpinLaunch will be going from here. The company signed a contract in 2019 with the U.S. Department of Defense.
The company has the potential to be a leader in the satellite launch market if it is given the right momentum.
READ MORE: SpinLaunch, an alternative rocket builder, completes its first test flight [CNBC]
SpinLaunch: This startup plans to launch rockets into space with a centrifuge
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