Nasa to test catapult that flings objects into space at 5,000mph

SpinLaunch accelerator system will ‘eliminate the cost, time, and complexity’ of reaching space

<p>SpinLaunch’s mass accelerator hopes to deliver payloads to orbit after partnering with Nasa</p>

SpinLaunch’s mass accelerator hopes to deliver payloads to orbit after partnering with Nasa

Leer en Español

Nasa could soon be catapulting payloads into space through an innovative launch system that hopes to dramatically improve space accessibility.

The US space agency partnered with California-based startup SpinLaunch to develop a ‘Suborbital Accelerator Launch System’, with the hope of performing the first orbital test flight in 2025.

The launcher works by rotating a carbon fibre arm at speeds of up to 8,000 kilometres per hour (5,000 mph) within a 91-metre diameter steel vacuum chamber.

The hypersonic speed propels a launch vehicle containing a satellite into the sky, allowing it to reach orbit much quicker than conventional rockets.

Once above the stratosphere, the payload deploys a small amount of propulsion to provide the final push to reach the required position for orbit.

SpinLaunch claims the system requires no fundamental advances in material science or emerging technologies, and can be built using existing industrial hardware and commonly available materials.

If successful, it would significantly reduce the cost of delivering payloads into orbit.

“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 Jonathan Yaney, founder and CEO of SpinLaunch.

“What started as an innovative idea to make space more accessible has materialised into a technically mature and game-changing approach to launch.”

SpinLaunch performed the first ever test flight of its launch system in October 2021 from its testing site at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Objects have since been flung into the skies at speeds in excess of 1,600 kph, though none are yet to reach orbit.

“Through these turnkey space solutions, SpinLaunch is helping customers eliminate the cost, time, and complexity constraints currently driving space-related business models – ultimately delivering less expensive, scalable access to space,” SpinLaunch said in a statement.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in