NASA uses a giant slingshot to launch satellites into space

Named as the Spin Launch suborbital accelerator, the space slingshot has had more than 10 hits test

Do you remember watching cartoons where the force of a simple slingshot could send characters into space? Well, it’s a reality now, but calm down this one doesn’t throw sentient beings into the unknown.

NASA, with its giant slingshot called the SpinLaunch suborbital accelerator, is now able to launch objects into space. This mainly includes satellites built for space research or for other purposes such as radio and the Internet.

To measure the Spin Launch’s ability to launch objects without damaging them, the company conducted 10 tests over the past year. The slingshot successfully passed them all and proved that it could overcome Earth’s gravitational force without damaging sensitive equipment.

The current version of the Spin Launch is about 108 feet (33 meters) wide and has a fast-spinning arm inside. This arm quickly spins the object and throws it once it has enough kinetic energy. The sling launches to a height of 25,000 feet (7,600 meters) but plans to increase it in the future.

Once built on a much larger scale, the company hopes to send payloads up to 200,000 feet (60,000 meters). For comparison, an average airplane flies at 36,000 feet (11,000 meters).

The most recent space slingshot was made for NASA, Airbus, Cornell University and satellite maker Outpost Space. It turned out to be a huge success and opened up many new possibilities.

Spin Launch’s current facility is 1/3 the size it plans to build in the future. The company was started by Jonathan Yaney in 2014 and raised up to $150 million in funding. Although a simple concept, spin-launch has been very difficult to execute, but when carried out on a larger scale, it will cut satellite and rocket fuel costs by nearly half.

“The data and insights gathered from flight testing will be invaluable to Spin Launch. As we continue to develop the Orbital Launch System, and to our customers who expect us to provide them with sustainable access to space at low cost, high cadence,” said Founder and CEO Yaney.

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