Silicon Valley startup SpinLaunch Inc. will reveal initial details of how it plans to build a machine to fling rockets into space, already securing $40 million from notable technology investors according to founder Jonathon Yaney. The company plans to spin a rocket in a circle at up to 5,000 miles per hour and then let it go, throwing the rocket to the edge of space where it will light up and deliver objects like satellites into orbit.
The kinetic energy launch system would use electricity to accelerate a projectile and fight through gravity and atmosphere. This could build a simple and less expensive rocket more efficient at bringing satellites into space.
Top investors have shown support for the company’s vision, including Alphabet Inc’s GV, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Airbus Ventures, making up most of the $40 million investment. Recently, the rocket industry has become crowded with dozens of companies making small, cheap rockets to launch weekly after Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. These smaller rockets carry mini-satellites, called smallsats, packed with imaging, telecommunications and scientific equipment and are smaller versions of traditional rockets. Meanwhile, SpinLaunch is looking into an entirely new approach of rocket launch.
“SpinLaunch can be powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, thereby eliminating the use of toxic and dangerous rocket fuels,” piquing a general partner’s interest at Kleiner Perkins, Wen Hsieh, in an emailed statement.
The startup expects to begin launching by 2022, charging less than $500,000 per launch and capable of sending multiple rockets daily. Currently, the top rocket companies launch about once a month with $2 million to $10 million per launch for small rockets. If it could reach these numbers, it would be the cheapest and most prolific in the market although it still has to prove that the technology would work, which still seems like it is coming right out of science fiction. The former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Simon “Pete” Worden, was impressed by the company’s prototype and says “It’s a very good approach in my opinion.”