NASA will test SpinLaunch’s “whirl ‘n’ hurl” space launch technology

NASA could launch its satellites into space using extraordinary “vortex and scale” launch technology at the end of this decade.

The American space agency has signed an agreement with California launch SpinLaunch to test the latter’s bizarre “kinetic” launch system, seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to fuel-based launches.

It works by attaching a reusable rocket to a giant rotating arm in a vacuum sealed electric centrifuge and spinning it at several times the speed of sound.

The rocket is then released and fires into space to release payloads such as satellites into low earth orbit. It can then return to Earth to be reused for further launches.

The huge launch machine, located in Spaceport America in New Mexico, measures 165 feet (50.4 meters), slightly taller than the Statue of Liberty (150 feet or 46 meters).

Scroll down for the video

California start-up SpinLaunch has built an alternative rocket launch system (pictured) designed to catapult a spacecraft into orbit. The system works by attaching a rocket to a giant rotating arm in a vacuum sealed centrifuge and spinning it at speeds several times faster than sound. He is then released and fires into space before returning to Earth

California start-up SpinLaunch has built an alternative rocket launch system (pictured) designed to catapult a spacecraft into orbit. The system works by attaching a rocket to a giant rotating arm in a vacuum sealed centrifuge and spinning it at several times the speed of sound. He is then released and fires into space before returning to Earth

Pictured is the Suborbital Accelerator, created by the Californian startup SpinLaunch, which measures taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York. The company wants to build an even larger version in another location in the United States

Pictured is the Suborbital Accelerator, created by the Californian startup SpinLaunch, which measures taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York. The company wants to build an even larger version in another location in the United States

However, this is only a one-third scale version of what SpinLaunch intends to accomplish for future launches.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

An alternative rocket launch system that catapults a spaceship into orbit could one day become a reality after being successfully tested by California-based company SpinLaunch.

Here’s how the system works:

1. The satellite or spacecraft is loaded into the SpinLaunch suborbital accelerator inside a rocket

2. A vacuum centrifuge spins the rocket several times faster than the sound before releasing it

3. The rotary arm system uses kinetic energy to launch rather than the fuel in traditional rockets

4. Upon reaching space, the orbital launch vehicle returns to Earth for reuse

According to a newly released statement, SpinLaunch will fly NASA’s first payload on a development test flight later this year, which will include post-flight payload recovery at NASA.

The two organizations will also work together to evaluate the so-called Suborbital Accelerator for future flight opportunities. This could include SpinLaunch’s first orbital test launches, scheduled for 2025.

“SpinLaunch offers a unique suborbital flight and high-speed test service, and the recent launch agreement with NASA marks a key turning point as SpinLaunch shifts the focus from technology development to commercial offerings,” said Jonathan Yaney, founder and SpinLaunch CEO.

“What began as an innovative idea to make the space more accessible has resulted in a technically mature and revolutionary approach to launch.

“We look forward to announcing more partners and customers soon and we greatly appreciate NASA’s continued interest and support for SpinLaunch.”

SpinLaunch’s machine will accelerate a launch vehicle containing a satellite up to 5,000 miles per hour using its carbon-fiber rotating arm inside a 300-foot-diameter steel vacuum chamber.

In this way, more than 70% of the fuel and structures that make up a typical rocket can be eliminated.

SpinLaunch hopes that its orbital vehicle will eventually be able to carry around 200 kg of payload into orbit, which equates to a number of small satellites.

The company hopes that its orbital vehicle (pictured as a cutaway in an artist's impression) will eventually be able to carry around 440 pounds of payload, which equates to a few small satellites.

The company hopes that its orbital vehicle (pictured as a cutaway in an artist’s impression) will eventually be able to carry around 440 pounds of payload, which equates to a few small satellites.

In October 2021, SpinLaunch’s first test flight successfully pushed a test vehicle to supersonic speeds and ended with vehicle recovery.

A 10-foot-long bullet was rapidly accelerated to thousands of miles per hour in a rotating arm before being released for launch “in less than a millisecond,” Yaney said. CNBC after launch.

The first suborbital flight used about 20 percent of the full throttle capacity and reached a test altitude ‘in tens of thousands of feet’.

Since then, the system has conducted regular test flights with a variety of payloads at speeds in excess of 1,000 miles per hour at Spaceport America.

However, that will not be where the company’s long-term launch system will be based. Instead, a The “coastal location” site “will support dozens of launches per day,” according to Yaney.

A successful test last October involved the suborbital accelerator (pictured), currently a one-third scale version of what SpinLaunch ultimately intends to be.

The vehicle used did not have a rocket engine on board but SpinLaunch plans to add one, as well as other internal systems, in future test flights.

The vehicle used did not have a rocket engine on board but SpinLaunch plans to add one, as well as other internal systems, in future test flights.

SpinLaunch claims to “provide a fundamentally new way to access space”.

“SpinLaunch enables a future where satellite constellations and space payloads can be launched with zero emissions into the most critical layers of the atmosphere,” the company says on its website.

‘In a future where large numbers of people travel into space, the facilities, equipment and supplies needed to support civilization in space must also be launched.

‘For tens of thousands of people to work and live in space one day, millions of tons of infrastructure and supplies have to be launched. SpinLaunch ensures that this can be done with the least possible environmental impact. ‘

The company will help meet the high demand for low Earth orbit constellation launches of small inexpensive satellites for disaster monitoring, weather, homeland security, global communications, and more.

SPIN LAUNCH: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ROCKET BUILDER

When was SpinLaunch founded? 2014

Who launched the company? It was established by CEO Jonathan Yaney to “reimagine space launch technology” and launch small satellites into low Earth orbit.

How many employees do you have? over 200

Where is it based? Long Beach, California

What is the company’s goal? He wants to launch payloads on rockets launched by his “suborbital accelerator”.

What is this? The suborbital accelerator is a strange p-shaped machine measuring 165 feet in height. It contains a giant rotating arm in a vacuum electric centrifuge, which spins a rocket at several times the speed of sound before releasing it.

Why? Kinetic energy technology is seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to fuel rockets.

Where is the suborbital accelerator based? Spaceport America in New Mexico, but is ultimately working on a “coastal location” site to launch its rockets.

When do you want to make your first orbital launch? 2025