NASA will soon take out a unique launch system for a spin.
The agency has committed to sending a payload using a suborbital kinetic energy-based system developed by a California-based company Spin Launch. The test flight, expected later this year, “will provide NASA with valuable information for potential future commercial launch opportunities,” SpinLaunch officials said in an emailed statement.
The newly unveiled Space Act Agreement is part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, which is helping to demonstrate technologies that could support and advance the agency’s science and exploration portfolios along the way Growth of the private space industry.
Incredible Technology: Space and Exploration
SpinLaunch aims to drive this growth with its novel go-to-market strategy. This strategy consists of accelerating rockets to tremendous speeds here on solid ground with a rotating arm, and then hurling them into the sky. The launch vehicles will fire their engines when they are already high in the sky, greatly reducing the amount of fuel and hardware – and therefore money – needed to reach orbit.
SpinLaunch has already done a number of test flights from New Mexico Spaceport America with its suborbital accelerator. The company aims to launch its first orbital test flights in 2025.
The new agreement with NASA is an important milestone in SpinLaunch’s journey, said company founder and CEO Jonathan Yaney.
“SpinLaunch offers a unique suborbital flight and high-speed test service, and the recent launch agreement with NASA marks an important turning point as SpinLaunch shifts its focus from technology development to commercial offerings,” Yaney said in the same emailed statement.
“What started as an innovative idea to make space more accessible has evolved into a sophisticated and breakthrough approach to launch,” he added. “We look forward to announcing additional partners and customers soon, and greatly appreciate NASA’s continued interest and support in SpinLaunch.”
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there (opens in new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaelwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).