big picture: Putting satellites into orbit is expensive. Each launch consumes tons of fuel, and missions can only be completed once every few months. A company called SpinLaunch wants to eventually be able to launch multiple satellites a day, mostly using the kinetic energy generated by a colossal centrifuge.
Space startup SpinLaunch last year completed are working on a prototype centrifuge in New Mexico capable of spinning an object at up to 10,000 g and launching it into the air. The company’s stated goal was to eventually build a huge kinetic cannon that could launch satellites into space.
From October SpinLaunch made eight test flights. The latter is equipped with a camera that allows for the first time (above) a glimpse of what it would be like to shoot tens of thousands of meters into the air from a prototype model (below). As expected, it will be a vomit-inducing ride.
Like a soccer ball or a bullet, the most efficient and stable way to move through the air is to use a spiral. Launcher projectiles are in the form of large bullets or small three-meter rockets. The payload ribs are angled to produce this rotation.
The “optical payload” left the cannon – the A-33 suborbital mass booster – at 1,600 km/h (nearly 1,000 miles per hour). The entire flight lasted 82 seconds and the projectile reached an altitude of over 7,620 meters (25,000 ft). Interestingly, only a fraction of the A-33’s power was used at launch.
The optical payload test gave the engineers a first look in terms of the projectile, which is very interesting. More importantly, the test showed that the electronics could withstand huge g-forces and be fired from the barrel, an issue that had plagued the company ever since the concept was developed. So the camera also served as a proof of concept.
The SpinLaunch L100 full-scale orbital mass accelerator will be three times larger than the A-33. It will be capable of tossing a 200 kg (441 lb) satellite at 8,000 km/h (5,000 mph) to near-orbital altitudes before the rocket engines kick in to complete the flight and stabilize the satellite’s orbit.
In April, NASA Contract SpinLaunch to perform suborbital launch and ascent of specially designed test equipment. A test flight is scheduled for the end of this year. If all goes well, NASA will consider other possible tests with a possible orbital launch after the L100 enters service.
SpinLaunch hasn’t officially announced where it’s located construction L100, stating only that “the first orbital launch site is under final selection in the coastal region of the United States, to be announced shortly.” However, conceptual image (above) has a filename containing “Alaska_Orbital_Wide”. Presumably Alaska is at least a candidate for the seat.
Construction should be completed in the next couple of years as the startup plans to begin commercial launches in 2025. In the meantime, engineers will use the suborbital prototype to conduct one or two tests per month at gradually increasing rates and with varying payloads.
Credit: www.techspot.com /