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article imageSpinLaunch wants to slingshot small rockets into space

By Karen Graham     Jun 15, 2018 in Technology
Sunnyvale - A Silicon Valley startup has devised an ingenious way of sending rockets into space. Dubbed SpinLaunch, the company wants to blast tiny payloads into orbit atop miniature rockets.
Airbus Ventures, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Kleiner Perkins are among major investors in SpinLaunch, a Silicon Valley startup that seeks to slash launch costs by flinging rockets into space without burning fuel.
The company announced it has raised $40 million, reports Bloomberg. The company says it will use the funds to scale-up the team and technology.
SpinLaunch recently came out of stealth mode, but even so, little is known about the company or its founder beyond a brief description. Sunnyvale, California-based SpinLaunch was founded in 2014 by Jonathan Yaney, a self-described “serial entrepreneur” and aerospace enthusiast.
Yaney has spent the last 15 years founding startups in the fields of consulting, IT, construction, and aerospace, according to Universe Today.
Schematic of a mass accelerated in a slingatron by a phased gyrational
motion of the entire acceler...
Schematic of a mass accelerated in a slingatron by a phased gyrational motion of the entire accelerator tube.
Launch system technology
SpinLaunch's concept for sending payloads to space using rotational acceleration and catapults is based on a 1997 proposal by HyperV Technologies Corporation, called the Slingatron.
The company has developed a working prototype of its launcher, but there are few details on how it works, other than it requires the firm to get a rocket spinning in a circle at about 5,000 mph before they let it go. Sort of like a discus thrower would toss a discus after reaching the right momentum.
What is particularly intriguing is that SpinLaunch will not be using traditional rocket fuels. The company's novel technology will rely on a large centrifuge to store energy and will then rapidly transfer that energy into a catapult to send a payload to space at up to 4,800 kilometers per hour (3,000 mph), according to TechCrunch.
SpinLaunch  isn t the first firm to explore catapult-assisted launch systems. NASA looked into simil...
SpinLaunch isn't the first firm to explore catapult-assisted launch systems. NASA looked into similar technology, which was based around a track, instead of a centrifuge.
Ready for launch in 2022
SpinLaunch plans to send its first satellite into space in 2022. If this launch system proves to be successful, it would mean launching a payload into low-Earth-orbit could be reduced to about $500,000, far less than SpaceX or United Launch Alliance charge for a launch.
"Some people call it a non-rocket launch," founder Jonathan Yaney told Bloomberg. "It seems crazy. It seems fantastic. But we are actually using relatively low-tech industrial components to break this problem into manageable chunks."
Wen Hsieh, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins, said he and fellow investors were “very intrigued” by SpinLaunch's technology, according to GeekWire.
“SpinLaunch can be powered by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, thereby eliminating the use of toxic and dangerous rocket fuels,” Hsieh said. “SpinLaunch’s unique and proprietary approach to place satellites into low Earth orbit is not only highly cost-efficient, but also safe and green.”
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