Thursday, February 22, 2024

SpinLaunch to test its unique, low-cost launch system with NASA payload

With the space race in full swing, scientists continue to search for the best ways to send objects into space with minimal cost. SpinLaunch is one of the entities that has found a technique that could reduce the fuel consumption of rockets. Last year, the company made waves with the truly groundbreaking concept of a giant centrifugal slingshot that can launch things into orbit.

The space technology company has now signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to test and confirm the amazing potential of this ingenious contraption for hypersonic launches. As a part of the partnership, SpinLaunch will develop, integrate and fly a NASA payload on its Suborbital Accelerator Launch System at supersonic speeds and recover it shortly thereafter.

The developmental test flight is set to be conducted later this year. The two organizations will work jointly to examine the performance of the mission and evaluate the usefulness of the system for potential future commercial launch opportunities.

SpinLaunch’s Orbital Accelerator will accelerate a launch vehicle containing a satellite up to 5,000 mph (8,046 km/h) using a rotating carbon fiber arm within a 300 feet (91.4 meters) diameter steel vacuum chamber. This helps eliminate over 70% of the fuel and structures that make up a typical rocket. When reaching the stratosphere, a small, inexpensive propulsive stage provides the final required velocity for orbital insertion and positioning.

Back in October last year, SpinLaunch’s first test flight successfully propelled a test vehicle at supersonic speeds and ended with the recovery of the reusable flight vehicle. Since then, the system has conducted a series of test flights with a variety of payloads at speeds in excess of 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) at Spaceport America, located in New Mexico. First orbital test launches are planned for 2025.