SpinLaunch's latest funding round will help it catapult payloads into space

SpinLaunch says its method will cut 70% of the fuel and infrastructure requirements of traditional rocket launches.
Chris Young
SpinLaunch's Suborbital Accelerator.
SpinLaunch's Suborbital Accelerator.

Source: SpinLaunch 

SpinLaunch, the company that aims to catapult payloads into space using a modern centrifuge system, has raised $71 million.

The new funding will allow it to continue developing its system as well as a new line of satellites.

California-based SpinLaunch announced on September 20 that it raised the funding in a Series B round led by ATW Partners. It now means the firm has raised a total of $150 million as part of its bid to disrupt the small satellite launch industry.

How does SpinLaunch's method work?

SpinLaunch's system uses a vacuum centrifuge to accelerate vehicles to hypersonic speeds before jettisoning them out and upward towards orbit. The launch vehicles then use rocket engines to carry out the final orbital insertion, where they then deploy their payloads in orbit.

This method, SpinLaunch argues, will be much cheaper as it eliminates 70 percent of the fuel and infrastructure requirements of a traditional rocket launch. It is also more environmentally friendly.

“We share in the company’s goal to realize the full-potential of the space economy by developing a revolutionary space launch system that is both very low cost and environmentally sustainable,” said Wen Hsieh, general partner at Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm that participated in the funding round, in a press statement.

SpinLaunch's latest funding round will help it catapult payloads into space
A diagram of SpinLaunch's full-size Orbital Launch system.

Source: SpinLaunch  

SpinLaunch has built a smaller prototype of its launch system, called the Suborbital Accelerator, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Measuring 33 meters in diameter, the system has so far carried out nine suborbital tests. SpinLaunch aims to carry out a total of 30 suborbital test flights.

“SpinLaunch’s mission is to bring the world low-cost, sustainable access to space. We’ve taken a big step in that direction with the completion of our 33-meter Suborbital Mass Accelerator,” explained Jonathan Yaney, founder and CEO of SpinLaunch, “retiring the technical risk as we prepare the way for the construction of our full-size Orbital Launch system.”

The company has remained fairly tightlipped about those tests so far. However, it hopes to begin orbital launches with a larger, 100-meter-diameter launcher by 2026. It has yet to announce where the larger accelerator will be built.

SpinLaunch has a NASA Space Act Agreement contract

SpinLaunch is also working on satellites optimized for its launch system, which will have the capacity to launch 440 lbs (200 kgs) to orbit. These include a 12U CubeSat bus and a 440-lbs satellite.

The company says its launch system is designed to carry out up to 10 launches a day, and 2,000 per year, meaning it will help to meet the increasing demand for launch services. As a point of reference, SpaceX aims to carry out a record 52 launches this year.

Crucially, SpinLaunch's system accelerates the satellites to hypersonic speed inside a vacuum, meaning vibrations from acoustics won't damage the satellites when they reach forces of 10,000 g and speeds of 5,000 mph. NASA has taken note, as the space agency has signed a Space Act Agreement with the company to launch one of its payloads into space. Stay posted for more updates on SpinLaunch's upcoming test flights.

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