NASA will soon release a unique launch system for a spin.
The agency has pledged to send a payload using a kinetic energy-based suborbital system developed by a California-based company SpinLaunch. The test flight, which is scheduled for later this year, “will provide valuable information to NASA for potential future commercial launch opportunities,” SpinLaunch representatives said in an emailed statement.
The newly revealed Space Act agreement is part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, which helps demonstrate technologies that could help the agency’s science and exploration portfolios down the road and boost the growth of the private spaceflight industry.
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SpinLaunch aims to help fuel this growth with its new launch strategy. This strategy involves accelerating rockets to tremendous speeds here on solid ground using a rotating arm, then launching them skyward. Launchers will ignite their engines when they’re already high in the sky, dramatically reducing the amount of fuel and hardware — and, by extension, money — needed to reach orbit.
SpinLaunch has already conducted a series of test flights from New Mexico Spaceport America thanks to its suborbital accelerator. The company aims to launch its first orbital test flights in 2025.
The new agreement with NASA is an important step 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 a key inflection point as SpinLaunch shifts the focus from technology development to commercial offerings,” said Yaney in the same emailed statement.
“What started as an innovative idea to make the space more accessible has materialized into a technically mature and revolutionary launch approach,” he added. “We look forward to announcing additional partners and customers soon and greatly appreciate NASA’s continued interest and support for SpinLaunch.”
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).