This space startup wants to slingshot rockets into orbit

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This space startup wants to slingshot rockets into orbit
SpinLaunch's first prototype suborbital accelerator.SpinLaunch
  • Space startup SpinLaunch has been working on a new and more sustainable way of launching rockets.
  • It tested its first prototype last month and plans to conduct more tests for the final product.
  • The suborbital accelerator uses kinetic energy to launch rockets instead of the traditional fuel-based system.
Space startup SpinLaunch has developed a prototype of a very unique and different kind of launchpad to shoot rockets into orbit. It’s a suborbital accelerator that’s even taller than the Statue of Liberty and looks like a giant-sized rolling tape. What happens inside is electric-powered kinetic energy spinning the rocket and flinging it up to orbit.

This will be different from the traditional way of launching fuel-based rockets vertically, and it’s also said to be a less expensive and environmentally sustainable alternative, according to SpinLaunch. The company successfully demonstrated its first prototype of its suborbital accelerator last month near Spaceport America in New Mexico.

How does it work

The suborbital accelerator features the largest span vacuum chamber inside which there’s a massive rotating arm that uses kinetic energy to spin the rocket several times the speed of sound and then lets go of it so the projectile is flung into the air, according to a report by CNBC. At its first launch, SpinLaunch said the suborbital accelerator successfully propelled a test vehicle at supersonic speeds. This prototype used only around 20% of the accelerator’s power and touched an altitude of tens of thousands of feet, the report added.
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Only a testbed

The suborbital accelerator is only a test-bed for the final product, the Orbital Launch System. The company plans on conducting regular test flights with a variety of vehicles and different launch vehicles throughout 2022. It plans to conduct around 30 suborbital test flights from Spaceport America. As for the final Orbital Launch System, it is still in the works and there’s no confirmed launch timeline for it yet.

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