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The SpinLaunch mass accelerator launch system could provide more sustainable accessibility to space

US company tests rocket free launch mechanism to “fling” payloads into sub-orbital space

NASA has agreed to fly a payload with SpinLaunch’s mass accelerator to test the launch characteristics of its low cost, high cadence launch system. The deal was struck as part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Programme which demonstrates promising technologies for space exploration, discovery and the expansion of space commerce through suborbital testing with industry flight providers.

The agreement will see SpinLaunch develop, integrate and fly the payload on the company’s Suborbital Accelerator Launch System later this year. The two organisations will then analyse the data and assess the system for future flight opportunities.

Sustainable Access to Space

The Orbital Accelerator will accelerate a launch vehicle containing a satellite up to 5,000 miles per hour using a rotating carbon-fibre-arm within a 300-ft diameter steel vacuum chamber. By doing so, over 70 percent of the fuel and structures that make up a typical rocket can be eliminated.

It makes use of existing industrial hardware and commonly available materials in the accelerator system, achieving hypersonic launch speeds without the need for any fundamental advancements in material science or usage of emerging technologies. After ascending above the stratosphere, a small, inexpensive propulsive stage provides the final required velocity for orbital insertion and positioning. Through this unique approach, SpinLaunch is providing a fundamentally new way to access space.

Late last year, a test flight successfully propelled a test vehicle at supersonic speeds and ended with the recovery of the reusable vehicle. Since then, the suborbital system has conducted regular test flights with a variety of payloads at speeds in excess of 1,000 miles per hour at Spaceport America. First orbital test launches are planned for 2025.

According to Jonathan Yaney, Founder and CEO of SpinLaunch, the company is offering a unique suborbital flight and high-speed testing service, and the recent launch agreement with NASA marks a milestone in shifting from technology development to commercial availability.

“What started as an innovative idea to make space more accessible has transformed into a technically mature approach to launch,” he says.

Jonathan Newell
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