Why use unsustainable rocket propellants for small satellite launches when you can eject them into space?
This sounds like a crazy proposal, but the California-based startup SpinLaunch is actually developing an alternative rocket launch technology that spins a vacuum-sealed centrifuge at several times the speed of sound before releasing the payload, like a catapult. Launch into orbit.
According to a CNBC report, SpinLaunch conducted its first test flight using its prototype electric launch system at the US Spaceport in New Mexico on October 22.
The cost of launching a rocket is very high, and it is also harmful to the environment, because a single launch will produce hundreds of tons of carbon dioxide, use thousands of gallons of water, and release harmful nitrous oxide into the atmosphere-although it is worth pointing out Compared with passenger aircraft, the aerospace industry’s carbon footprint is indeed dwarfed.
SpinLaunch CEO Jonathan Yaney told CNBC that SpinLaunch not only aims to provide a more sustainable launch system, but also sets the goal of "providing satellite launch services at the lowest cost in the industry."
SpinLaunch's launch system is called a suborbital accelerator. The system it develops does not rely on rocket fuel, but uses electricity, kinetic energy, and centrifugal mechanism, which looks like a postmodern twist of a medieval device.
The machine consists of a 1,000-ton steel vacuum chamber that maintains the low pressure required for the carbon fiber tether to rotate at incredible high speeds while minimizing air heat. Air is sucked out of the chamber before launch to provide a low-friction environment, allowing the projectile to reach speeds of thousands of miles per hour before being launched from the skyward tube.
SpinLaunch was founded in 2014 and has only recently received a lot of attention. In an interview with CNBC, Yaney explained: “The bolder and crazier this project is, the more you work hard — instead of talking about it outside.”
To date, the company has raised 110 million U.S. dollars, and so far, it has built a one-third version of its launch system for its recent successful test flight. Even at one-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 about the same height as the Eiffel Tower.
For this system, SpinLaunch is developing an incredibly high-precision release mechanism and projectiles that can reach speeds of thousands of miles per hour once they are ejected into the air. The company stated that its test flight in October was conducted at about 20% of the full power of its prototype system. Although it did not release the exact number, it said the projectile representing the satellite's payload reached a height of "tens of thousands of feet."
SpinLaunch’s goal is to restore its system after launch, and it ultimately hopes to add a rocket engine that can only be used after the projectile reaches suborbital space. The private aerospace company stated that it will eventually be able to put approximately 440 pounds (200 kg) of payload into orbit at a cost that is only a fraction of other satellite launch services (such as those provided by SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and other space companies). Small part. In the next eight months, SpinLaunch will conduct approximately 30 suborbital test flights from the US spaceport. Keep posting to get more updates about this project, this project is so crazy, it might work.