NASA will soon test a unique launch system. The agency has signed a contract to launch payloads using a suborbital kinetic energy system developed by California-based SpinLaunch. The test flight, expected later this year, will provide NASA with valuable information on the potential for future commercial launches, SpinLaunch said in an e-mail statement.
The recently released Space Act is part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, which helps demonstrate technologies that can help the agency’s future research and drive the growth of the private space industry.
SpinLaunch seeks to drive this growth with a new launch strategy. This strategy involves accelerating missiles to enormous speeds here on solid ground, using a rotating arm, and then throwing them into the sky. Launchers will launch their engines when they are already high in the sky, which will significantly reduce the amount of fuel and equipment and, consequently, the money needed to enter orbit.
SpinLaunch has already conducted a series of test flights from America’s spaceport to New Mexico using its suborbital accelerator. The new agreement with NASA is an important milestone for SpinLaunch, said founder and CEO Jonathan Yaney. “SpinLaunch is offering a unique suborbital flight and high-speed testing service, and the recent launch agreement with NASA marks a key inflection point as SpinLaunch shifts focus from technology development to commercial offerings,” Yani said in the same e-mail statement.
“What started as an innovative idea to make space more accessible has materialized into a technically mature and game-changing approach to launch. We look forward to announcing more partners and customers soon and greatly appreciate NASA’s continued interest and support in SpinLaunch.”