Company that wants to fling rockets into space with giant centrifuge

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https://singularityhub.com/2020/02/10/th...entrifuge/

EXCERPT: . . . Over the last decade, the pioneering work done by SpaceX has shown that getting stuff into orbit doesn’t need to be so expensive and that there are viable business opportunities to be had in the private space industry. [...] But while costs have fallen dramatically, the cheapest option for reaching low-Earth orbit—a rideshare on SpaceX’s Falcon 9—still starts at $1 million, and launches only happen twice a month at best. California-based startup SpinLaunch says its technology will allow up to five launches a day for as little as $250,000.

The company has held its cards close to its chest since its founding in 2014, but last month it gave Wired a close-up look at its ambitious plans. The idea is to build a centrifuge the size of a football field that will spin a rocket around until it reaches a speed of 5,000 miles per hour and then release it into the void.

So far the company has built a prototype about 12 yards across that has managed to get an 11-pound projectile up to 4,000 miles per hour, but they are now in the process of building one three times bigger at New Mexico’s Spaceport America. They hope it will be able to launch 110-pound test vehicles on suborbital flights by the end of this year.

[...] Even these high speeds won’t be enough to get all the way to orbit, so the rocket will have engines that will kick in at 200,000 feet. But because the air is so thin at this altitude, it will only require about a minute’s worth of burn, drastically reducing the fuel bill. SpinLaunch has already built a 25-foot test model of the launch vehicle, which it says will be able to carry a 200-pound satellite.

[...] Unsurprisingly, though, there’s considerable skepticism. Many of the engineers that Wired spoke to raised doubts over whether rockets and satellites would be able to withstand the incredible g-forces... (MORE - details)
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