What if instead of launching cargo into space on the rocket we could throw it with a catapult? This ambitious and slightly crazy idea formed the basis SpinLaunch. In 2014 startup secret was founded by Jonathan Jani, who has previously created a startup on the development of drones solar-powered Titan Aerospace and sold it to Google. According to TechCrunch, citing three sources, SpinLaunch attracted $ 30 million on the development of catapult technology.
The Idea is to create cheaper and working method to deliver, for example, satellites from Earth into space without the use of chemical fuel. Catapult could solve the issue with fuel and expensive boosters that are used by companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin.
SpinLaunch plans to use a centrifuge rotating at an incredible speed. Then all this momentum will be used to bailout the valuable cargo into space at speeds which can exceed 6,000 miles per hour. With enough momentum, the object will be thrown into space. Alternatively, the catapult could provide some needed power to the load could use a small rocket and to go beyond the atmosphere.
Slightly hesitated for a moment (after all four years of secret development), Yani agreed to tell TechCrunch about their secret startup and show a render of the future Angara launch SpinLaunch. "From the very beginning of space exploration rockets were the only way to access the space. However, in 70 years the technology has advanced much", said Jani. "To really commercialize and industrialize space, we need technology, ten times better."
Until recently, about SpinLaunch was known very little. Even the website is password protected. But last month in the state Senate of Hawaii has proposed a bill to issue bonds in the amount of 25 million U.S. dollars to assist SpinLaunch of "partial electric launch small satellites". Hawaii hope to get contracts and jobs, and act in accordance with the government's objectives, helping SpinLaunch.
The SEC filings show that Yani has attracted $ 1 million of capital in 2014, when it was founded SpinLaunch, 2.9 million in 2015, 2.2 million in debt in mid-2017 and 2 million in debt at the end of 2017. Now, she confirms that SpinLaunch raised a total of $ 10 million and that he himself is an investor. As for the next $ 30 million, he said: "We do meet with potential investors and has not yet received a decent offer."
Yan was created by startups since 2000, among which TriVane and Moretti Designs. But the love of aviation led him to what he flew over 1000 hours in the pilot's seat and started developing Titan Aerospace. In 2014, a startup bought by Google, and Yani began work on SpinLaunch.
Jani explains that achieving orbital velocities typically "requires that the rocket was carrying a huge amount of propellant, leaving only a small fraction (a few percent) of the total mass of the vehicle for cargo. But SpinLaunch replace the booster several terrestrial mass accelerators, which were developed in the 1960-ies. Modern fittings include rails and electromagnetic coils, electrothermal chemical gun, light-gas gun accelerators and shock waves".
NASA explored the possibility of runs involving a catapult that launches with the track instead of the centrifuge, but their designs were not economical enough to be used successfully for commercial launch objects into space.
Yani another method. SpinLaunch uses a method of accelerating rotation using angular momentum to gradually accelerate the vehicle to hypersonic speeds. This approach uses a much cheaper architecture with much lower power. SpinLaunch targets the start up cost of less than $ 500,000, while all existing rocket companies require from 5 to 100 million for the startup.
Sources report that physicists who have studied the company, said that a potential problem may be air resistance after firing the catapult. The Earth's atmosphere is so dense that after release it may be, so that the load will face like a brick wall. Any electronics or other sensitive materials in a consignment shall be designed to withstand the intense overload. All this explains the pointed, aerodynamic launcher apparatus that is in the hangar in the image above.
Remains the issue of delivery of the ship in space. "In the last three years to develop, prototypically, tested core technology and most of the technical risk stepped aside," says Jani. "The remaining problems connected with the construction and adjoining areas faced by all major projects in the development and construction of the equipment". Touch the heavens – the pleasure is not cheap, so SpinLaunch negotiating with large institutional firms, which can afford to Fund the next rounds.
If SpinLaunch will be able to overcome the technical barriers, it will be able to democratize access to space, reducing the cost of launch. This can speed up the age of innovation with the zero gravity, from space travel to the development of asteroids.
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