Send a satellite into space without a rocket? SpinLaunch and its centrifuge bet.

Will the future of space be without rockets? Whatever the case, the company fits the SpinLunch in this niche. The California firm, launched in 2014, worked for seven years to develop a system for launching devices into space based on kinetic and centrifuges. SpinLunch had already conducted its first test of its concept in October 2021, which made it possible to send an object a few kilometers above sea level. The young company does not hide this, its purpose is to become a real alternative to Space X or Blue Origin and their reusable launchers… but polluting.

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Centrifuge from Earth to space

To achieve its goal, SpinLunch relies on kinetic energy. The principle is as follows: a launch system in the shape of a drum, called an orbital mass accelerator, where the object will be sent into orbit. The projectile is attached to an arm, which will rotate in this hollow and closed round box, gradually gaining momentum. When it reaches a sufficient speed, the object is detached from the hand to be carried into space through a small pipe adjacent to the centrifuge.

The first test of this ambitious project took place on October 22, 2021 in New Mexico Spaceport America. A base that served as the starting point for coastal flight Virgin Galactic In July 2021. A small object 3 meters high, 33 meters in diameter on the accelerator and 50 meters high – the equivalent of a 15-storey building – was thus lifted 10,000 meters above sea level. The missile reached a speed of more than 8,047 kilometers per hour. The executive director of SpinLunch explained to SpaceNews that the centrifuge ” Only 20% was running at power “, Welcome to a real success of the California company.

The future of space research?

SpinLunch aims to be a real environmental alternative to the current private space conquest, SpaceX and Blue Origin. The device will be operated exclusively with electricity by the centrifuge of the young company. This will avoid the use of propellant, which is a polluting fuel used for conventional launchers.

In order to be able to place a 200 kg device in orbit, SpinLunch would have to build a centrifuge about 100 meters in diameter, 33 meters above the first test. However, the strategy imposes new technical limitations. Companies using such systems need to adapt to objects sent into space so that they can withstand an order of 9,000 to 10,000 G of energy induced by acceleration. One finds it difficult to support sensations outside of 3G and can feel the effects physically. 10 g in his body. A fighter jet is equivalent to a sharp turn.

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The spin launch will still use rockets, giving thrust injections powerful enough to push small satellites into orbit. Used launchers, however, will require much less fuel, which is in favor of a space-powered object payload. The launcher will only be active at altitudes above 10,000 meters. It will then be easier for the projected target to reach the escape speed required for the launcher to detach itself from the Earth’s gravity.

Effective system or whimsical project?

The use of a huge centrifuge to send a satellite into space seems straightforward from an impossible sci-fi movie. However, the idea arouses curiosity and even interest. SpinLunch’s project is a প্রস্তাব 250,000 to $ 500,000 launch offer, with an average cost of $ 57 million for the take-off of the Falcon 9 rocket.

In 2018, SpinLunch earned $ 40 million, mainly through a partnership Google Ventures And Airbus Ventures. In 2019, the agency signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense. The U.S. government has expressed interest in getting small satellites and military devices into orbit quickly and cheaply.

SpinLaunch currently raises 110 million. The firm plans to run several launches in 2022, when the first orbital flight will be in 2025.

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