A U.S.-based startup co-founded by an ex-SpaceX intern wants to make payloads rain down from Earth's orbit.
Now that launches are much more accessible than a decade ago, it's time to make the return of payloads from orbit equally accessible, according to the company, called Inversion Space.
The startup aims to transport small payloads up to space via traditional rocket launches, where they will then be stored in a small orbital case, according to a report from The New York Times.
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Shooting star-like space suitcases
Inversion Space's concept would essentially create a library of on-demand payloads in orbital space. When the contents of those space cases are required, they are quickly deployed back into Earth's atmosphere like a comet at 25 times the speed of sound. A parachute then deploys a short while before touchdown, allowing for a smooth landing in a designated region.
Inversion Space says its technology could one day be used to quickly deploy artificial organs to hospitals when they're needed for surgical procedures. The low-gravity conditions of space are ideal for these delicate organs, as they are less likely to collapse in on themselves due to the effects of gravity. The company also explains that it could store small mobile hospital units in space for quick deployment in areas hit by natural disasters or humanitarian crises.
The future of commercial space?
Inversion Space was co-founded by Justin Fiaschetti, a former SpaceX intern who dropped out of college, and mechanical engineer Austin Briggs, both of whom are 23 years old. The pair have already secured $10 million in funding for their venture and they have joined the incubator Y Combinator. Though they are still in the testing phase — they recently conducted a series of parachute and engine tests — they aim to develop a full-scale, functional model of their space case by 2025.
CE-1, our engine designed for deorbiting our Ray capsule, being hotfired. Absolutely screams! pic.twitter.com/LA4VHbon6o— Inversion (@InversionSpace) December 2, 2021
Though Inversion Space's technology does rely on rocket launch prices coming down even further than they have in the last few years, the firm says its space suitcases are small enough — roughly 1.2 meters in diameter — to take up a relatively small amount of space inside a rocket, meaning they shouldn't be too expensive to launch into orbit. It's a pretty farfetched proposition, but that's the private space sector for you. Space tourism is now a thing, and so are medieval-style catapulted rockets.