A HUGE slingshot has hurled its first Nasa payload on a test flight that could pave the way for a unique way to send satellites into orbit.
Spaceflight technology firm SpinLaunch’s groundbreaking Orbital Accelerator launches objects using a rotating carbon-fibre arm housed within a 300ft-wide steel vacuum chamber.
It’s able to fling a launch vehicle containing a satellite at up to 5,000 miles per hour into the stratosphere.
The technique is touted as a cheap alternative to rocket launches, which cost tens of millions of dollars per flight.
The test, SpinLaunch’s 10th successful launch, was carried out from Spaceport America in New Mexico on September 27.
It’s part of a series of trials that will determine whether scientific payloads and satellites could survive the stress of the procedure.
The test included payloads from NASA, Airbus, Cornell University and satellite maker Output Space.
Jonathan Yaney, founder and CEO of SpinLaunch, said: “Flight Test 10 represents a key inflection point for SpinLaunch, as we’ve opened the Suborbital Accelerator system externally for our customers, strategic partners, and research groups,
“The data and insights collected from flight tests will be invaluable for both SpinLaunch, as we further the development of the Orbital Launch system, and for our customers who are looking to us to provide them with low-cost, high-cadence, sustainable access to space.
The A-33 Suborbital Mass Accelerator system features a disc-shaped accelerator powered by a powerful electric drive.
Most read in Tech
It spins payloads at thousands of miles per hour before releasing them at the top of the structure through the launch tube.
By doing so, over 70 per cent of the fuel and structures that make up a typical rocket can be eliminated.
The company uses existing industrial hardware and commonly available materials to construct the innovative accelerator system.
It’s able to reach hypersonic launch speeds without the need for any major advancements in material science or technology.
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.
The firm announced in April that they had signed a Space Act Agreement with Nasa.
The deal gives Nasa a spot on future flights to test its own payloads on the system.
Nasa says the agreement will provide it with data for potential future commercial launch opportunities.
SpinLaunch’s first flight propelled a test vehicle at supersonic speeds in October 2021.
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.
The first orbital test launches are planned for 2025. The company hopes to begin launching satellites a year later.
“What started as an innovative idea to make space more accessible has materialised into a technically mature and game-changing approach to launch,” Yaney said earlier this year.
“We look forward to announcing more partners and customers soon, and greatly appreciate NASA’s continued interest and support in SpinLaunch.”
Find out more about science
Want to know more about the weird and wonderful world of science? From the Moon to the human body, we have you covered…
- When is the next Full Moon?
- What is a Super Moon?
- What is SpaceX?
- Where is the edge of space?
- How many bones are in the human body?
- How many chromosomes do humans have?
- What causes a volcano to erupt?
- Which sharks attack the most humans?
- What are the conspiracy theories about the world ending?
- All the UFO sightings and whether aliens are real
- Which country has the most earthquakes?
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at email@example.com