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Watch a gigantic 'slingshot' hurl a payload into the stratosphere at 5,000mph

Metro logo Metro 10/6/2022 Jeff Parsons
Well, that’s one way to get something up into space (Credit: SpinLaunch/YouTube) © Provided by Metro Well, that’s one way to get something up into space (Credit: SpinLaunch/YouTube)

A unique way of putting satellites and small spacecraft into orbit is being developed by a US company.

Why bother with a complicated rocket launch when you can just slingshot them into the sky?

We’re simplifying, but that’s the aim of SpinLaunch – a company that built an accelerator to literally hurl things into space.

The structure stands four feet taller than the Statue of Liberty and uses an arm travelling 5,000mph to shoot projectiles up to 25,000 feet into the air.

Although it’s still in the testing phase, the company hopes it will be a viable alternative to rocket launches by 2026.

Last week, SpinLaunch successfully completed its tenth test launch witnessed by more than 150 partners, government officials, and industry advocates. They had all gathered at Spaceport America in the Jornada del Muerto desert of New Mexico – the same place that Virgin Galactic launches its flights from.

Jonathan Yaney, founder and CEO of SpinLaunch, said in a statement: ‘Flight Test 10 represents a key inflection point for SpinLaunch, as we’ve opened the Suborbital Accelerator system externally for our customers, strategic partners, and research groups,

‘The data and insights collected from flight tests will be invaluable for both SpinLaunch, as we further the development of the Orbital Launch system, and for our customers who are looking to us to provide them with low-cost, high-cadence, sustainable access to space.’

The structure is four feet taller than the Statue of Liberty (Provider: SpinLaunch/YouTube) © Provided by Metro The structure is four feet taller than the Statue of Liberty (Provider: SpinLaunch/YouTube) After spinning the projectile around, it fires it out of this launch tube (Provider: SpinLaunch/YouTube) © Provided by Metro After spinning the projectile around, it fires it out of this launch tube (Provider: SpinLaunch/YouTube)

The system uses a disc-shaped accelerator powered by an electric drive that spins payloads around at thousands of miles per hour to generate velocity before releasing it at the top through the launch tube.

Despite the effectiveness of the slingshot method, it won’t ever be used to send people up into the cosmos.

That’s because the power of slingshot puts about 10,000g (gravitational force equivalent) on the payload. In comparison, a pressurised rocket carrying humans into space only creates about three g because the body can only stand so much.

Engineers load a payload into the accelerator (Provider: SpinLaunch/YouTube) © Provided by Metro Engineers load a payload into the accelerator (Provider: SpinLaunch/YouTube)

So far, SpinLaunch has tested with payloads from Nasa, Airbus, Cornell University and satellite company Output Space.

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