Now, NASA has said they are going to test SpinLaunch’s unusual launch technology. Rather than use a first stage rocket to get the launch vehicle out of our atmosphere, SpinLaunch uses an electric centrifuge to hurl the payload like a discus.
While the company’s kinetic launch system is unusual, it has the potential to affect positively both the environment and the cost. But it isn’t for all launches. Obviously, no one is suggesting its use for manned missions or super-heavy payloads.
The company says that SpinLaunch is ideal for any launch vehicle weighing in at under 440 pounds. The key is ruggedizing the packaging so it can take the punishment of 10,000 G force and being released at a speed of over six times the speed of sound (around 5,000 mph.) Once the vehicle is released, a second-stage rocket can take over and provide the power to get the package into orbit.
To quantify the benefits of the SpinLaunch approach, the company says that they can save up to 70% of the fuel by eliminating the first-stage rocket and that also means no need for the expensive launch structures needed with traditional launches. In essence, hurling the vehicle will use a quarter of the fuel at a tenth of the price!
NASA’s interest has led them to sign a Space Act agreement with SpinLaunch to develop and integrate a NASA payload for a slower sub-orbital launch. The payload will take measurements which will be analyzed by both NASA and the company. They are planning this first test for later this year. SpinLaunch is working on a timetable for a first orbital launch in 2025.
“SpinLaunch is offering a unique suborbital flight and high-speed testing service, and the recent launch agreement with NASA marks a key inflection point as SpinLaunch shifts focus from technology development to commercial offerings,” said SpinLaunch Founder and CEO Jonathan Yaney in a press release. “What started as an innovative idea to make space more accessible has materialized into a technically mature and game-changing approach to launch. We look forward to announcing more partners and customers soon and greatly appreciate NASA’s continued interest and support in SpinLaunch.”
SpinLaunch has developed a render video on YouTube showing how this remarkable system will work.